Student athlete GPA at all-time high

Pat Hickey

Students might need to change their perceptions of student athletes after USI teams released their team grade point averages.

University of Southern Indiana student athletes compiled a collective GPA of 3.19 and received a total of 124 academic honors from the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) during the 2011-2012 school year.

Academic quality has trended upwards for each of the past three years and is currently at an all-time high. USI Athletic Director Jon Mark Hall credits each coach’s efforts in recruiting “high quality individuals” and the Academic Skills (AS) department for the continued progress, but emphasized why the word “student” comes before “athlete.”

“Our goal is to make sure the expectation levels of our student athletes are high,” Hall said. “Honestly, I don’t think people should really be surprised by the numbers. Any student that can succeed academically at USI is going to have to have a high level of discipline and character in them.”

Seven USI programs received Team Academic All-GLVC honors for accruing at least a 3.3 GPA. The Eagles softball program sat at the top of the list, with 20 student athletes averaging a 3.48 GPA. The top six programs all came from the women’s side. Overall, 10 of the 13 sports recorded a GPA over 3.0, while the bottom three came close to it.

Several USI student athletes stay on top of their schoolwork by tutoring each other and using the university’s services, such as AS.

High grades are something every coach in any sport at the collegiate level stresses to incoming recruits and to their players every day at practice. USI men’s basketball coach Rodney Watson said his players’ careers after college are more important to him than whether or not they’ll be eligible to play after grades come out.

“USI is no joke,” Watson said. “I always tell my kids, ‘Don’t let something stupid on a Saturday night get in the way of where you want to be.’ This is way bigger than just coaching basketball. It’s about coaching young men.”