Student-Athlete GPA On The Rise


Jae-Kur Lockhart, Opinions Writer/ Editor

Ever wonder what the student-athletes are doing when they are not winning games and setting records? 

They are hitting the books and producing GPAs that are higher than ever before for athletes. 

Like all colleges that have a NCAA Division II team, there are a few requirements and guidelines.

The primary requirement in relation to this report is GPA. 

The NCAA requires that all student athletes have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.

It is not an easy task to manage business both on and off the field, but the athletes here at Henderson make it work.

“We have an overall GPA of 2.85 for over 300 student-athletes,” Shawn Jones, athletic director, said. “More than 50 [percent] of our student-athletes achieve GPA honors of 3.0-4.0 – a considerable improvement from the 2.73 GPA when I first arrived.”

A few of the students are exemplifying interest in both sports and beyond the standard of undergraduate degrees.

“We currently have five student-athletes that have completed their undergraduate degrees and are completing the remainder of their athletic eligibility while pursuing a Master’s Degree,” Jones said.

But what classes are these student-athletes taking? Are they sliding under the radar as far as classes go?

“[That is not the case], NCAA Division II requires that students earn satisfactory progress toward their declared degree,” Jones said. “Student-athletes may only take classes that are degree applicable requirements for their majors.”

The NCAA requires their players to have a 2.0 GPA or higher, so does Henderson when it comes to some of their scholarships. In this case, their athletic scholarships.

“I’m here on scholarship for football and the requirements ask that I keep at least a 2.0, attend all my classes, as well as practices and be very punctual,” Anthony Price, freshman sports management major, said.  

Now that you know the athletes are keeping up their grades, how do their coaches know how they are doing in class? Are there any resources for the student-athletes on campus?

 “NCAA Division II requires that each student-athlete’s academic status is reviewed each semester to ensure satisfactory progress,” Jones said. “To assist with this requirement HSU has implemented mandatory registration for student-athletes; academic and grade checks are conducted four times throughout fall and spring terms to determine any students that may have any academic troubles.” 

Student-athletes participate in tutoring, and supplemental instruction programming that’s offered to the entire general study body. Each head coach also implements a study hall program to assist with increased academic performance. 

“My coach is pretty strict when it comes to grades,” Price said. “He expects nothing but the best from us so he has no problem keeping tabs on us to ensure that we are doing our best.”

As it stands, athletes have to do a bit more than just do good work in class – they have to perform well outside of class as well. 

“You cannot live our vision and purpose without being a dedicated student first and foremost,” Jones said. “Each of our athletic programs is heavily involved in community services projects locally in Arkadelphia, as well as surrounding cities and at the Great American Conference. 

One might even ask what is there for athletes to gain if they keep good grades and capture decent moral standards. Do they get any recognition?

“Per NCAA DII rules we are not allowed to provide our student-athletes with extra benefits.

As incentives our student-athletes are acknowledged and recognized annually for achieving great academic success in our annual assembly,” Jones said. 

“Our academic success report is also reported annually to the NCAA and to our Henderson supporters, faculty and staff in general terms.

 Our student-athletes also may achieve academic recognition from the Great American Conference Office as well as the NCAA.” 

In closing, Jones had this statement to make: “Our athletic department has a vision and expectation for high academic achievement for all of our student-athletes. 

 We still have work to do to reach our ultimate goal of a cumulative GPA of 3.0 each semester for our 350 student-athletes.  We’ve made great progress in the last 22 months, but there is always room for personal and departmental improvement.”