The NCAA Final Four is a chance for the multi-billion dollar business of college sports to pivot gracefully from recruiting violations, 19-year old players who drop out of college for the NBA, and ethics accusations and focus on what big-time sports does at its best — entertain.
So before Saturday’s matchups between #1-seed the University of Kentucky and #4-seed the University of Louisville and #2 seeds Ohio State University and the University of Kansas, we’re going to help fans put the light on the things universities stand for, things like scholarship, graduation, and, alas, tuition payments.
Read on for StateImpact Ohio’s off-court Final Four matchup.
Let’s take the measure of incoming freshman at each school by looking at ACT scores. Looking at the 75th percentile composite ACT score for entering students, Kentucky and Louisville are a draw at 27, while Ohio State with 30 clearly pulls ahead of Kansas. If we use admissions selectivity as a tie breaker, we see that Kentucky admits 79 percent of applicants and Louisville 70 percent. But Ohio State still wins the selectivity championship.
The Obama administration is pouring millions of dollars into efforts to increase college graduation rates and make America number-one in the proportion of college graduates by 2020. That’s on top of the $40 billion or so the federal government spends on higher education each year. And that’s not including federal funding for university research. Let’s see how our schools compare.
Graduation Rate: Athletes
Last summer, the NCAA decided to raise the academic standards for postseason eligibility, effective next year. Teams who fall short would be banned from post season play. Most teams in this year’s tournament met current academic standards, but the new, higher standards should spur some action, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says.
Still, looking at how many students actually graduate, eight schools in this year’s tournament fall short. And the way the NCAA calculates graduation rates leaves Kentucky in good standing, even though just 25 percent of the freshmen and sophomores on the roster three years ago are still there.
Since 2000, the cost of attending a public college (including tuition, room, and board) rose 25 percent. The proportion of students receiving financial aid of some type is rising too. But students and their families are now paying for a bigger part of the cost of attending college: Tuition payments accounted for 43 percent of educational revenues last year, nearly twice the proportion it covered some 25 years ago.
The total cost of attendance at our Final Four schools averages $21,000. But bring financial aid into the picture, and that total drops several thousand dollars.
Ohio State – 2. Louisville – 2. Kansas – 1. Notice that Kentucky, the odds-on favorite to win the national athletic title, isn’t in the running.