Top Stories: June 17 Campus Connections

Student-athletes attain academic success

Four SMCC athletic teams made it to national championship tournaments this year. But student-athletes did more than shine on the playing field and court ― they also excelled in the classroom.

For the Spring Semester, SMCC student-athletes had an overall GPA of 2.71 (compared to an average 2.55 GPA among all students), with 43 percent of them maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher, according to the Athletic Department’s Spring Athletics Engagement and Academic Report.  Nine athletes were named United States College Athletic Association (USCAA) Academic All-Americans for having a 3.5 or higher GPA while taking at least 24 credit hours during the academic year.

Matt Richards, SMCC’s Athletic Director and Associate Dean of Student Life, said he impresses upon all student-athletes the importance of academic success.

“We had great success with four teams reaching national tournaments,” he said. “But to see that our retention rate is 86 percent, with nine Academic All-Americans and a 2.71 overall GPA, that to me screams success as much as the teams that went to national tournaments.”

From the moment they are recruited, student-athletes are told they are expected to be a positive representation of the school on the playing field, in the classroom and in the community.

Through engagement and retention reports, Athletic Department staff track athletes’ academic benchmarks, including GPA and credits earned.

Many of the athletic programs hold mandatory study halls for student-athletes, while also compiling progress reports to ensure students are attending classes, turning in all assignments and doing well on tests.

If students fall behind, athletic staff meet with those students to figure out a solution to improve their academic performance, Richards said.

“The message we try to send to student-athletes is for them to utilize the experience of athletics and let that propel them to success inside the classroom,” he said.

The teams with the highest over GPAs were the softball team (3.22 GPA) and the women’s soccer team (3.08 GPA).