Every Topic Every Day

NCAA Basketball Celebrates Academic Success: Inside Higher Ed’s Academic Performance Tournament

In a groundbreaking turn of events, the NCAA women’s basketball championship takes on a new dimension this year, shifting the spotlight from courtside prowess to academic excellence. Amidst the frenzy of March Madness, Inside Higher Ed’s annual tradition, the Academic Performance Tournament, has emerged as a refreshing celebration of student-athlete achievement beyond the game.

The University of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, a beacon of talent on the court, has not only revitalized enthusiasm for women’s college basketball but also exemplified the academic dedication of student-athletes. Her remarkable performance has not only drawn in millions of fans but has also sparked a deeper appreciation for the scholarly pursuits of collegiate athletes.

The recent Big Ten championship, featuring Iowa and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, set records in viewership, marking a significant milestone for women’s college basketball. Caitlin Clark’s undeniable influence was palpable as she spearheaded the surge in interest, demonstrating that academic excellence and athletic prowess need not be mutually exclusive.

Inside Higher Ed’s Academic Performance Tournament, a bracket based on academic success measured by the NCAA’s academic progress rate (APR), provides a refreshing perspective on collegiate athletics. Utilizing data from the 2021–2022 academic year, the tournament highlights institutions’ commitment to nurturing both athletic and academic achievements among their student-athletes.

While acknowledging the imperfections of the metrics used, such as the APR and graduation success rate (GSR), the tournament remains a commendable effort to recognize the scholarly endeavors of collegiate sports programs. Institutions like Columbia University, College of the Holy Cross, Sacred Heart University, and the University of Arizona shine as beacons of academic achievement in the tournament.

However, this year’s tournament witnessed an unprecedented occurrence as Creighton University and Drake University found themselves in a deadlock, boasting identical APR, GPR, and FGR metrics. The tiebreaker, based on overall GSR scores, saw Creighton emerge victorious by a slim margin, underscoring the importance of holistic student-athlete development.

The inclusion of Ivy League universities, despite their lack of FGR data due to their non-issuance of athletic scholarships, added an intriguing twist to the tournament. Columbia University’s triumph over Michigan and Holy Cross’s nail-biting victory in a coin flip against Princeton showcased the intense competition driven by academic prowess.

As March Madness unfolds, it’s essential to acknowledge the broader context of collegiate sports and the ongoing conversations surrounding racial exploitation. While the excitement of the game captivates audiences, Inside Higher Ed’s focus on academic success reminds us of the multifaceted journeys of student-athletes striving for excellence both on and off the court.

In an era where the commercialization of collegiate athletics often overshadows the academic mission of universities, initiatives like the Academic Performance Tournament serve as poignant reminders of the intrinsic value of education within sports. As fans gear up for the thrills of NCAA basketball, let’s not forget to celebrate the scholars behind the jerseys, whose dedication to academic achievement enriches the essence of the game.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More