Juggling Class and Sports: The Athlete’s GPA

Posted: October 13, 2010 in News, Sports, Youth
Tags: , , ,

We have all heard the commercials. “There are over 380,000 student-athletes in the NCAA and almost all of us will go pro in something other than sports.”

sportsDaily practices, weekly, games, a full course load, studying, and sleeping. This pretty much amounts to the lifestyle of a student athlete. But why? For many athletes, especially D-1, playing a sport may have meant a full scholarship and an opportunity that may never have been possible with their athletic ability. For others, it truly is the love of the game. Take D-3 athletes for example, there are no scholarships available at this level. Others may truly be in it for the love of the game and may not want the media attention, strict guidelines, and grade maintenance that comes along with being a superstar college athlete.

Every student athlete has their reasoning behind their choices to become NCAA athletes. Now what about those who are strictly here for the professional advancement as an athlete? There are many takes on this subject.

One of the most popular debates facing the NCAA is their requirements for incoming freshman. According to the NCAA:

  • Division I athletes must have a 2.0 GPA and a 1010 on their SAT.
  • Division II athletes must have a 2.0 GPA and 820 on their SAT.
  • Division III athlete admission is determined the institution.

Are the less-than-strict requirements of college athletes keeping those with strong academic backgrounds out of the colleges of their choice? I’m sure you have heard this argument before. I’m sure we all know someone is has what seemed like the perfect high school track record of grades, test scores, and activities that was denied admission to the school of their dreams. This argument is a tough one. Especially in schools with athletic programs bringing in millions. The all-star football player is going to bring in money where the 3.5, honor student with outstanding community involvement it not. It all seems to be a matter of what the school wants, money or brains.

In a 2008 study conducted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, interesting data was exposed. A majority of colleges did report that there are wide gaps in the college preparation of football players and male basketball players compared to the rest of the student body. The average SAT for all freshmen is 1161. For athletes as a whole, 1037. The average SAT score for football players was 941 and 934 for male basketball players.

After admission, there are undoubtedly many questions regarding the performance of these athletes. Currently, the NCAA requires a 2.0 GPA with a full-time course load to be considered eligible. A lot of individuals feel that colleges give a little extra push to help these money making athletes continue playing. Some speculate that athletes grades are changed and other policies are thrown out the door in order to keep the athlete on the court or field. These accusations are especially not true at D III schools. Coaches have very little control over treatment of their athletes. Student athletes do not receive priority scheduling scholarships, and coaches raise money through team fundraisers. These athletes are often also associated with poor graduation rates. In fact, less than 30% of football and male basketball players actually graduate (keep in mind that the number who leave college to go pro is far and few).

Others believe that despite statistics, student athletes have a poor identity development overall. Hence the lower grade point averages and lack of success when it comes to graduation. Arguments include that football and male basketball players are only there to make their school money. They are perceived as “dumb jocks” and the simple association with this term prevents these players from flourishing off the field or court.

Overall, it is only male basketball players and football players who are perceived and proven to have lower GPAs, test scores, and graduation rates than the rest of the school, other athletic clubs included. Other sports are reported to have average or a hair below average GPAs in comparison to the rest of the school.

Is it the spotlight that causes male basketball players and footballer players’ GPAs and overall college performance including graduation rate to drop? This could make for a very interesting research study.


Comments are closed.