Football Team Achieves 3.0 Spring Semester Average GPA
Members of Sacred Heart University’s football team, their coaching staff and the University’s Office of Student-Athlete Support Services are celebrating a 3.0 cumulative GPA for the school’s football team for the spring 2012 semester. “It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and an emphasis on academics. We tell them it’s all about the dream, but there has to be a backup plan,” said Lucy Cox, director of Student-Athlete Support Services.
The football team’s academic success can be attributed at least partially to a leadership development system set up by their coaches, said Matt Gardner, assistant football coach. He points to a study hall set up by another assistant coach, Darin Edwards, where tutors are available to help the athletes with their studies. Edwards also arranges for private tutoring when needed.
Cox pointed out that the team’s GPA has gone from a 2.75 in the fall of 2008 to the current 3.0. “A rise of .25 in four years for a team of 92 guys is pretty much unheard of, but it didn’t happen by accident,” she said. “There has been a cultural shift here to take academic history into consideration when recruiting student-athletes. Our philosophy is that we want to graduate kids who are successful in athletics, academics and overall wellbeing.”
That philosophy has translated into graduating seniors with options. “We have kids who are graduating and have a difficult decision to make. They have to decide between pursuing a professional sports career or choosing from one or more really great job offers. It’s a wonderful position to be in.”
The football leadership program includes a team challenge during the spring semester. The seniors serve as team leaders and choose their teammates each week. The teams then compete in various challenges, such as academics, video games, weight training and community service and receive points for their results. Each week, the team with the lowest score has to get up and run with Gardner at 6:30 Saturday morning. “We take advantage of their natural competitive spirit and turn it into a life lesson,” Gardner said.
“It’s a testament to the kids,” Cox concluded. “We have a lot of really good students, but we also have some who struggle academically. We know it didn’t come easy for them, and they had to commit to putting in the extra effort.”
Sacred Heart has more good news regarding its student-athletes. Its 31-sport program ended the 2011-12 season by recording its highest-ever semester GPA with a combined 3.23 for the spring semester.
“As proud as we are that the program won its fifth consecutive Brenda Weare Northeast Conference Commissioners Cup, as well as the NEC’s second consecutive Building Communities Award, there’s nothing more telling about the quality and maturity of our student-athletes than achieving high grades in the classroom,” said Don Cook, director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “I couldn’t be more please. Both the men’s teams and the women’s teams were separately over 3.0 for the first time, and I am especially impressed by the football team’s first-ever 3.0.”
“We are not just producing athletes; we are producing graduates with a promising future. Anytime a university can go out and recruit with a cumulative GPA above 3.0, that is a wonderful thing,” Cox said.