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Education Secretary Arne Duncan doesn’t think Kentucky, the top-seeded team in the East Region, should have been invited to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this year.

He doesn’t think Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Baylor, California, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico State, Tennessee and Washington should be in the field either.

That has nothing to do with those teams’ hoops prowess. It’s about their slipshod academics.

Each of those 12 schools graduated fewer than 40 percent of their players over a four-year span, according to a study released last week by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida.

That’s unacceptable, Duncan said. If a program wants its athletes to play under college basketball’s brightest lights, it must ensure they’re succeeding as students: “If you can’t manage to graduate two out of five players, how serious are the institution and the coach about their players’ academic success? How are you preparing your student athletes for life?”

Easy to answer: They’re not, and they’re not.

Most of these kids won’t play for a salary in the National Basketball Association. The math is simple. There are 347 men’s Division I basketball teams. Each is allowed to have 13 scholarship players. So roughly 4,500 kids play Division I ball, on scholarship, each year.

But the NBA has only 30 teams, and its draft is only two rounds, meaning only 60 players are drafted each year. And NBA teams are drawing more players from overseas.

As a former player at Harvard, Duncan has seen the opportunities that basketball can provide. “There is no better place to teach invaluable life lessons than on the playing field or court. Discipline, selflessness, resilience, passion, courage — those are all going to be on display this week in the NCAA tournaments.”

But he’s also seen the way college sports can spit out former athletes who ignore their studies, fail to earn degrees and fall short of the pros. “I played with inner-city players who had been used and dumped by their universities. … When the ball stopped bouncing, they struggled to find work, had difficult lives, and some died early,” Duncan said.

He can’t force the NCAA to change postseason eligibility rules, as it should. But he is well situated to keep campaigning for reform.

Would tying eligibility to graduation rates rob the tournament field of stellar teams? Hardly. Duke, Syracuse and Kansas, the other three No. 1 seeds, would have been eligible. So would such top teams as Michigan State, Pitt, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Villanova and Texas. So would Northern Iowa, which stuffed Kansas.

Nine of Duncan’s dismal dozen have already lost and been eliminated from the tournament. Think their players are back on campus hitting the books? Riiight.

If academic failure cost schools tourney slots, they’d pay more attention to their players’ classroom performance.