Arizona State University Student-Athletes: Breaking an Academic Sweat

Brit Milazzo@@M11azzoCorrespondent IMay 27, 2008

At Arizona State University, the athletic department takes pride not only in the excellence the athletes perform on the field, but their success in the classroom.


Practices are long, games are tough and the training in the off-season is nothing others will envy of a student-athlete. However, maintaining a good grade point average is not something that’s merely handed to an athlete.

With the drive to excel in the classroom and a great supportive academic staff, the student-athlete competes in the classroom as hard as on the field.

Many students-athletes entering college wonder how they’re going to keep their grades up while playing a sport.

“It’s tough, but we get through it,” ASU baseball player, Kyle Brule, said. “Standards both on the field, and in the classroom are high.”

Most athletes call themselves students before they call themselves athletes, which is why they are called "student-athletes" and not "athlete-students."

The NCAA requires all athletes to be enrolled at their respective university as full-time students and to maintain a minimum grade-point average of "C."

Those who violate these policies are warned and can be suspended from games and practices.

If the individual continues to violate these rules, extreme measures can be taken; including immediate termination from varsity athletics, cancellation of grants, scholarships and additional counseling.

Many students at ASU have the misconception that student-athletes are offered an easy pass through college solely because they’re athletes. Yet, for the past four-years, ASU has been ranked in the top seven in the country and No. 1 in the Pacific-10 Conference for most Academic All-Americans.

In 2007, twelve ASU student athletes earned Academic All-American honors and ASU had 13 teams with an average cumulative GPA of a 3.0 or more.

Sixty-five percent of all student-athletes at ASU are Maroon and Gold Scholar Athletes.

Forty-eight percent of all student-athletes at the university have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above; and 21 percent of all ASU student-athletes were named to their respective Pac-10 All-Academic teams.

Thirty-nine ASU student-athletes had a fall or spring semester GPA of 4.0 and eight had 4.0 cumulative GPAs. The team GPA for the ASU women's soccer team was ranked No. 17 in the nation among all Division I soccer programs.

Last year’s freshman class at ASU included eight National Merit Scholars, ranking the university third nationwide and No. 8 overall among all public universities; higher than both Princeton University and Stanford.

The 2007 class at ASU included 10 Flinn Scholars, one National Hispanic Scholar and five National Scholars. ASU athletics continues to lead in degrees awarded to undergraduate students among peer institutions.

ASU student-athletes who apply for Fulbright awards to study overseas are among the most successful in the nation, with 40 percent of students who applied being chosen to receive the grants.

To help them accomplish these goals, athletes have specific team rules; some which require a certain amount of mandatory study hall hours a week.

This means the athlete’s coach requires them to use the computers and the tutors the athletic department provides them for a few hours per week. The hours will be recorded when the athlete signs in, and their coach will keep track of how many hours they accumulate.

“We have mandatory study hall for all the freshman and people who don’t have a high enough GPA,” Mirela Kardasevic, a sophomore on the ASU swim team, said. “The freshmen have to get eight hours of study hall a week and depending on our GPA we can get less the next year.”

It’s different for each sport at Arizona State.

“If we get a D or F we are required to have study hall hours as well as all the freshmen,” Junior, Briann January, of the ASU Women’s basketball team, said. “On the road we have team study hall that everyone has to do.”

A support staff is hired to assist athletes at ASU with their homework and studies. The student-athlete is required to take advantage of their team tutor to keep up with their grades, even if that means working extra hard on the road.

Coaches might even ask for midterm evaluations from the athlete’s professors to make sure they are on track with grades and/or sometimes, the athlete will have to skip a practice for a class function.

The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics Academic Performance Monitoring Form says:

“The office for Student Athlete Development closely monitors the academic performance of our student-athletes. Our philosophy is that student-athletes should compete in every area of their lives, including the classroom. We are asking for your assistance in monitoring the named student-athlete’s participation and progress in your class by providing the information below. Your feedback will allow us to address academic concerns for this individual in a structured and timely manner or to give positive reinforcement to a job well done. Your assistance in our program is GREATLY appreciated.”

The information on the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics Academic Performance Monitoring Form requires the student-athlete’s professor to include the athlete’s current grade and additional information such as quiz and exam scores.

Keeping up grades and being an athlete result in receiving awards and honors as a team and individually. This includes, but is not limited to, ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District, College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and academic conference honors.

“The worst stereotype an athlete can be labeled as is a ‘dumb jock’,” January said.

This year, the ASU women’s soccer team set a record high of 11 players earning Academic All-Pac-10 honors, ASU Women’s Soccer Coach Kevin Boyd said.

Former NCAA basketball coach and outreach counselor for UC-Berkeley, Laura Mitchell, added, “Not all sports give out athletic scholarships to their athletes, so keeping up good grades helps an athlete get an academic scholarship, instead.”

“Coaches make their living based on the performance of their student-athletes,” Mitchell continued. “We even have to get permission from our boss in the athletic department to offer scholarships to recruits with low grades or test scores, no matter how well they perform at their sport and most of the time the answer is ‘no’.”

Also, being an athlete doesn’t mean limiting time for school or helping out in the community.

According to the ASU On Campus Outreach program, ASU student-athletes performed 1,300 hours of community service in the last year, touching the lives of more than 40,000 people. Every team engaged in some type of community service.

Seventy percent of ASU student-athletes performed almost 1,700 hours of community service, connecting with more than 61 thousand youth and adults in the community.

The ASU athletic department and its athletes are standout students.

Whether they’re playing a game, attending class, or simply going out, these students remember that they’re representing not only themselves, but their team and Arizona State University.

Britney Milazzo is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. 


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