Women’s version of Inside Higher Ed Academic Performance Tournament

It is a known fact that female college athletes do better academically than their male counterparts, particularly at the highest competitive levels within the National Collegiate Athletic Association. However, a comparison of this year’s brackets for academic success tournaments in the NCAA Division I basketball championships for women and men shows a stark contrast.

Twelve women’s basketball teams participating in the 2021 tournament achieved perfect NCAA academic progress rates for the 2018-19 academic year, compared to just one of the men’s teams participating in the tournament that year.

In fact, the women performed so well that we decided to nominate two teams to be the winners of this year’s Inside Higher Ed Academic Performance tournament for women because they blew out all of the metrics we use to determine which teams have higher scores. Reach out to students. It’s not the first time this has happened for women’s teams in the history of our bizarre tournament. This gives the teams credit for their success in the classroom rather than their skills on the field.

The women’s teams at Stanford University and Lehigh University share the academic crown. Both teams had a perfect 1000 for the NCAA academic progress rate, a perfect 100 for the NCAA graduation rate, and a perfect 100 for the federal graduation rate.

The bracket is based on the teams’ most recently reported academic progression rate, the NCAA’s multi-year measure of a team’s academic success. APR excludes athletes who leave their facility in good academic status, so players who leave college to play professionally are not counted as high school dropouts.

When two teams hit the APR – which has often been the case with the women’s teams this year – we turn to the most recent success rate of the NCAA (in this case 2019-20). The GSR measures the proportion of athletes who graduate within six years of joining the facility and, like the APR, excludes athletes who leave an institution with good academic status. The GSR also credits programs for players who transfer to and graduate from the institution. As a result, the rates are on average significantly higher than the federal government’s completion rate.

We break the links between teams with the federal rate when absolutely necessary. For the women this year, this drastic step has been taken several times. In the Elite 8, all women’s basketball teams remaining in the academic bracket had an annual rate of 1,000. The remainder of the bracket was determined by the graduation rates of those teams when the NCAA’s academic measure was insufficient.

Check out the full bracket below.

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