Editorial: student athlete GPA now average – should it be applauded?

Several years ago, FIU was sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its student athletes’ disappointing grades. Later, in 2007, FIU’s academic progress report score was among the lowest in the country, considerably below the minimum score of 900 set by the NCAA – meaning that less than 60 percent of student athletes were graduating. It wasn’t until 2010 that FIU just barely broke the 900 academic progress rate score with a score of 927.

APR scores are a major determining factor for scholarships, graduation, academic eligibility and the ability to compete postseason.

The 2015-2016 student athletes earned the highest grade-point average on record with a 3.1 average throughout the entire department, with 273 of the 400 students earning at least a 3.0.

“The word ‘student’ in ‘student-athlete’ will always be the most important thing to us,” said Pete Garcia, FIU executive director of Sports and Entertainment. “The work that our student-athletes have done in the classroom is outstanding. Their dedication, along with the commitment of our coaches, faculty and Student-Athlete Academic Center towards high academic standards, is the reason we see such impressive results.”

Additionally, student athletes have seen a 10 percent increase in their graduation success rate over the last two years.

Even though Garcia and and his department expects to continue seeing an upward trend of high academic standards, it might be too soon to celebrate. While we agree that academic progress on any level is applaudable, we do not agree that student athletes should be held to different standards from any other student.

We can understand that increasing the average GPA is a step in the right direction, and we should be encouraging our athletes to perform better. A 3.0 is the bare minimum to enroll in some majors at FIU; many students work hard to obtain and maintain a 3.0 simply to pursue their passion. It’s discouraging to see a group of students, who are already seen at times as “elites”, being applauded for this.

It also takes a great effort to attend classes while working full time, being a parent or caretaker. Those students do so without hopes of a pat on the back for a 3.0.

Holding athletes to a lower standard reinforces negative stereotypes against athletes. We do not believe our athletes to be any less capable than any of the other students who attend classes at FIU.

As an editorial board, we believe that holding our athletes to different standards is a disservice to the athletes themselves. We know that it feels great for these athletes to succeed academically, and encourage the University community to promote academic progress and growth for student athletes as much as they would any other student.

We are proud of the academic success of our student athletes and do not wish to diminish the hard work it took to achieve a high GPA. We congratulate and applaud the 143 Panthers who were named to the FIU Dean’s List in the spring.

We admire the dedication it takes to dedicate oneself to a sport, attend multiple practices, and travel for games while ensuring to aim high academically. That is no small feat.

We would also like to wish our student athletes the best in the upcoming academic year, both on and off the court.


Image by Seattle Parks, retrieved from Flickr: 
Adult Outdoor Sports

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