Coaches monitor player academics

Head coach Terry Fowler gives his players instructions during a game.

The debate on whether or not sports affect students’ grades has been a topic of interest among students for years. Some believe athletics have a positive effect on students, teaching them to be responsible with their time and grades. However, others believe sports are the reason why some student athletes have lower grades.

“Being involved in sports helps students learn to prioritize,” said Brice Bishop, UNA men’s and women’s tennis coach. “School comes first. My athletes have always been pretty self-motivated when it comes down to their grades.”

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association and UNA’s athletic department, student athletes must maintain a cumulative grade point average to sustain their eligibility for college sports.

“Student athletes are required to pass 24 credit hours per academic year,” said Todd Vardaman, assistant athletic director and director of NCAA compliance. “At the point they reach their fifth full-time semester, they must declare a major and be placed on a check sheet. The student athlete must then earn at least 24 hours toward that degree and maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA.”

Students who fail to meet the required GPA or seem to be slipping academically have to take study hall hours if they want to continue playing a sport. All student athletes in their first semester at UNA must also take study hall hours. A student who does not maintain a cumulative GPA will become academically ineligible and will not be able to participate during games.

Athletics help students by teaching them time management, work ethics and responsibility, according to many players and coaches on campus.

“I often notice that players do better academically in season than out of season,” said Bobby Champagne, head men’s basketball coach. “They learn many skills, the main one being time management.”

The coaches are involved with their student athletes on and off the field.

“My coaches are always keeping up with my grades as well as my test dates,” said Shelby Goodman, a UNA softball player with a 4.0 GPA. “When I’m not playing softball, I am most often found studying in the library.”