Academic Success Could Lead to On-Field Improvement for Jayhawk Football Team

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September 27, 2012 by kujhawk

Heading into a bye week, the Kansas Jayhawk football team has a lot to work on. A 1-3 record, two double-digit leads blown in the fourth quarter against Rice and Northern Illinois, and the sinking feeling that this season could be heading to a 1-11 finish.

But, things could be on the rise for the Jayhawks academically. In the spring of 2012, the KU athletic department reported a 3.0 grade point average for the football team – an all time record for the program – in Head Coach Charlie Weis’s first semester in Lawrence.

Weis Committed to Academics

“Our football program hasn’t been as stellar as it will be,” Paul Buskirk, Associate Athletic Director and head of the university’s Student Athlete Services unit said. “We lost some scholarships in the past couple of years because of academic performance.”

When Weis was hired last December, critics questioned the decision to bring in Weis. Although the team’s win-loss record does not show it, improvements are being made in the classroom thanks to Weis.

“I meet with him weekly, along with two academic advisers, and go over every single player’s academic performance for an hour,” Buskirk said of Weis and his commitment to higher academic standards for the football team. “I have never seen anything like it in 24 years.”

How It All Works

Along with team GPA, there is the Academic Progress Rate, or APR. The APR is a measurement of how student athletes on scholarship are performing on a semester-to-semester basis. More specifically, it indicates whether or not athletes are eligible for the following semester and if they stayed at the college for the next semester. This was implemented in 1990 as a part of the “Student Right-to-Know Act,” which put more of an emphasis on academics for student athletes.

The highest possible number for the APR is 1,000. The benchmark for colleges is 925. That number correlates to a 50 percent graduation rate for a particular sports program. If you are below this number as a program, you face penalties from the NCAA such as losses of scholarships or not being able to participate in postseason play.

The Jayhawk football team’s APR for the 2010-2011 academic year was a 971. This APR trailed only the University of Missouri’s in the Big 12 rankings.

“He (Weis) is very dedicated to academic success in the football program,” Buskirk said.

When shown these numbers, some students were surprised.

“I would not have expected that at all,” Jason Gorman, a fifth-year senior from Milwaukee said. “A 3.0 average? That is pretty good for a bunch of jocks.”


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