Black athlete grad rate up in U.S.; CSUN below average

OnTay Johnson

A new study by the NCAA recently found that the graduation rates for black student athletes are rising nationwide. CSUN’s black athlete grad rates are lower, however.

The national student graduation success rate for black student athletes who entered in the 1998-99 school year as freshmen is 59 percent, while CSUN’s graduation success rate for black student athletes is 43 percent.

The study provides graduation statistics for students and student athletes entering the college in 1998 and is broken down into racial categories. This is the most recent graduating information for the required six years of data available.

Janet Lucas, interim director of the Athletics Department, said that seeing change in the graduation rates is something the university is always striving for.

“Improving our graduation rates is an ongoing focus, not only with the institution but with the athletic program,” Lucas said.

In regard to black athletes, Lucas said that it has not been a controversial issue since she has been at CSUN.

“There are some concerns for all of our athletes as well as minorities,” she said. “We are behind the national average.”

The athletics program usually graduates students in a manner consistent with the rest of the university and very rarely is there a major difference in rates, but when there is, you have to look at other factors, Lucas said.

She added that sometimes the athletics program does better than the university as far as the four-year average for graduation.

CSUN’s graduation rates for all students who entered CSUN during the 1998-99 school year is 36 percent, while the student athletes’ rate is 33 percent. Graduation rates for black CSUN students in six years are 22 percent and 10 percent for black student athletes.

“Our goal for every athlete that track and field brings in, regardless of color, is to be a student first,” said Dale Cowper, assistant track and field coach. “Our goal is for them to leave with a degree.”

Lucas said she thinks the challenge begins before the students attend CSUN.

“It begins with the recruiting process – (recruiting) with a philosophy about graduating,” Lucas said. “From my standpoint, we’d like to see them do well by graduating and doing well athletically.”

Many attempts were made to reach black student athletes but none were available for comment.

OnTay Johnson can be reached at