Challenge to the Theory That Ivy League Colleges Boost the Racial Diversity of Their Student Bodies by Recruiting Large Numbers of Black Athletes

It is widely believed in many circles that the Ivy League colleges are able to boost their racial diversity figures of their student bodies by recruiting large numbers of black athletes. These black athletes, so the theory goes, would not have the qualifications to enter the Ivy League if they were judged solely on their academic merit.

But a study by the Harvard Crimson says that this theory is totally without merit. The figures show that while blacks are nearly 8 percent of the student body at Harvard, they make up only 5.5 percent of the varsity athletes. At Yale, according to the Crimson’s data, blacks are 7.6 percent of the student body but only 5 percent of the varsity athletes. Brown and Penn also had higher percentages of black students than the black percentage of their student athletes. In contrast, blacks are 4 percent of the student body at the University of California at Berkeley. But 16 percent of the recruited athletes are black.
  Nearly a third of the black athletes at Harvard play football. But only 17.5 percent of the players on the Harvard football team are black. Nationwide, more than 45 percent of college football players are black. In men’s basketball, 28.6 percent of the players at Harvard are black. Nationwide, 58 percent of the men playing college basketball are black.

If basketball and football are taken out of the statistics, only 3.3 percent of all varsity athletes at Harvard are black. Many of Harvard’s 41 varsity teams are almost exclusively white.