Massachusetts student-athletes are apparently well-equipped to balance the rigors of academics and the challenge of varsity athletics.
The Atlantic 10 Conference recently released its biannual student athlete Commissioner’s Honor Roll for the fall semester of 2009. In order to qualify for this exclusive list, a student-athlete is required to earn a grade point average of 3.5 or better. On Feb. 25, A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade formally named almost 2,000 athletes to the list, 103 of which were UMass students.
The list is published twice each year, once at the end of every semester. At the completion of the semester the A-10 asks each of its member schools to provide a list of all student athletes who achieved a GPA of at least 3.5 and remained eligible all season long. The athletes are then compiled and the Honor Roll is created. Each student-athlete receives a paper certificate from the A-10 marking their outstanding achievement, and some are honored at their university. Any other compensation such as scholarships would be illegal according to NCAA regulations.
At UMass, female athletes largely dominated those nominated to the honor roll. The women’s rowing team recorded 20 nominations, the most of any sport at UMass, with women’s and men’s track and field each naming 17 and 16 athletes respectively. The women’s lacrosse and swimming teams also had a strong showing with nine apiece.
UMass Associate Athletic Director, Joan Hopkins, said that the numbers were not anything out of the ordinary, and that she was not concerned about the lower number of male athletes present on the list.
“Women’s GPAs across colleges in the US are higher than men’s,” Hopkins said. “There are plenty of studies to support this, and it is no reflection of the student body as a whole. Some suggest genetics, others say women in college are at a higher level of intellectual maturity and therefore are more focused on grades [than their male counterparts].”
In today’s society, low graduation rates, high athletic salaries and the domination of Division I sports have many questioning whether or not a “student-athlete” truly exists anymore. According to the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll, it does exist, and these individuals remain as much students as they are athletes.
Hopkins later added that UMass is proud of its student athletes, and sees no reason to believe the number of individuals named to the Commissioner’s Honor Roll will diminish anytime soon.
“Being named to the A-10 Honor Roll is a well-deserved honor for all our student athletes,” Hopkins said. “Being a student-athlete requires balancing time commitments to their sport and their school work. Our students at UMass have always been able to have success without one dominating the other, and I agree with the A-10, they should be honored for this.”
Athletes Honored for 4.0
In addition to the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll, the UMass athletic department hands out two academic honor roll lists of its own.
The Athletic Director’s 4.0 Club recognizes any student-athlete who earned a 4.0 GPA in the fall or spring semesters of last year, and the national athletic academic fraternity Chi Alpha Sigma honors upperclassmen with at least a 3.4 GPA. The same conditions as the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll apply to both of these lists.
Both groups were honored two weeks ago during halftime of a men’s basketball game in front of the entire Mullins Center crowd. The Athletic Director’s 4.0 Club named 21 athletes from last year’s spring semester and 12 from the fall to this honor roll for a total of 33 student-athletes with perfect GPAs. Likewise, 60 UMass athletes were names to the Chi Alpha Sigma fraternity honor roll for athletes with above a 3.4 GPA.
Hopkins added that those athletes who were honored during halftime, exhibit the necessary qualities for success in balancing athletics and academics, and that the University hopes to increase the number of students named to this honor roll each year.
“These student-athletes demonstrate the drive and commitment needed to succeed both on the field and in the classroom,” Hopkins said. “UMass is proud of each and every one of them, and that is why they are recognized for their efforts.”
Michael Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.