Many college athletes, especially black athletes, are unprepared for college. In this episode, we’ll talk to Dr Darron Smith of the University of Memphis to see how BYU’s graduation rate for black students compares to other colleges. I think the answer may surprise you. Dr. Smith says,
Vanderbilt has a very high GSR score, the Graduation Student Record. So basically when a student graduates from college, the university guarantees a student will graduate within a six year period after they have finished their years of eligibility. In this situation the students there have a much higher GSR, they graduate because the mission of Vanderbilt is education, not football. It’s why they don’t do very well. Occasionally they’ll do ok in basketball. Occasionally you have a fluke year where they’ll have a decent team. Generally Vanderbilt, when I was there in Nashville as a youth, they never did well because that wasn’t their mission. Their mission was education.
[BYU has] The lowest [black graduation rate] in the state? I was surprised to see that, very surprised to see that. The data, all of that data, plus the GSR scores, the story is becoming clearer.
Check out the video, audio, or transcripts. But that’s not all. Black students are expelled 9 times higher than whites.
But there’s a reason for that though. It goes back to what you were saying before. It goes back to the fact that these young men are not Mormon. They don’t have the same—they don’t know the rules. They don’t understand the rules. They don’t understand the Honor Code is not just a code, it’s theology. It’s Mormon theology in a code. The Honor Code for Mormon students is kind of like, yeah I do it already. They don’t have to think about that, most Mormon students don’t. But black students, they don’t have that. They already come primed.
The white athlete has the repentance process he can begin, initiate, almost immediately, whereas the African-American player who’s non-Mormon, they don’t have that same luxury, so for them, it’s a much harsher reprisal from the institution because they have none of those systems in place.
Smith recommends that BYU hire someone like Pastor France Davis of the Baptist Church in Salt Lake City to mentor non-LDS blacks when they run into Honor Code issues. What do you think of Smith’s observations and suggestions for improvement? Do you think Smith tells the situation fairly?