Academics affect athletes’ eligibility

January 16, 2015

Student before athlete.

This is one of the most important ideals of those who play sports. It is what molds the lifestyle of a student-athlete.

Sophomore Andrew Muthart carries remorse as he is currently on academic probation for his junior varsity year of basketball.

“I messed up my freshman year,” said Muthart. “It was stupid.”

This athlete admits that he allowed for his grade-point average to fall below a 2.0, during the off-season, in his first year of high school.

As tryouts for the JV team were coming to an end, he got his wake up call at the time of cuts. “I didn’t think they would look back at my freshman grades,” he said.

The sophomore was on the verge of not making the team. However, JV coach John Gilgert Jr. sees his potential. “He’s a kid to learn from his mistakes.”

Gilgert is one of the coaches in the program who encourages his players to become better students, while also improving as athletes. He confiscates jerseys from students whose grades start to plummet, with F’s red flagged on grade checks and report cards. “Having grades opens up so many more doors.”

He proudly recalls his last year’s team of starters, who made up the highest GPA of the team. Four of the five students maintained a 4.0 or above.

Junior James Green was one of those JV players. He continues to strive for exceptional grades through his first semester of junior year, though he says that football season is when he struggles the most to maintain them.

Green has an established routine after his football practices. He puts his priorities of classes in order, mapping out what work he needs to do for the following days. Green plans to make the workload minimal, by avoiding procrastination.

Football coach Don Norton also encourages his athletes to maintain excellence in their studies. “He likes it when athletes have grades,” Green said. On game days, Norton opens room M3 for a place to do homework, eat lunch, and relax beforehand.

According to Tony Espinoza, athletic director, “Sports are an incentive for doing well in the classroom, academically and behavior wise. The goal is to have athletes out there, representing athletics in a positive way.”

There are two types of academic probations that can be used. One is the freshman probation which allows a first year high school student with low grades to play a sport, only during the spring semester. The other is the regular probation where again a student with a low GPA (less than a 2.0) is considered to be on the team. This probation can only be used once.

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