May 24, 2011

By Andrew J. Bowman

OXFORD, Ohio - Finals are done. Grades have been submitted. And Miami Athletics is proud of its success in the classroom as much as it for its success in the athletic arena.

During the 2011 spring semester, Miami student-athletes finished with a 3.11 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale), right on par with Miami's general student body, which also compiled a 3.11 GPA. During the 2010 fall semester, athletes earned a 3.08 GPA, marking 13 straight semesters that RedHawk student-athletes earned above a 3.0 GPA.

"It starts with recruitment. The coaches recruit student-athletes who care about both being a student earning a degree and competing," said Elysa Appel, academic coordinator/learning specialist for the Student-Athlete Academic Support Services (SAASS).

SAASS is a branch of the Rinella Learning Center at Miami. It offers such programs as the Tutorial Assistants Program, supplemental instruction and the Academic Coaching Program, all designed with student-athletes in mind.

Men's cross country/track and field head coach Warren Mandrell, who's cross country team posted a 3.57 GPA during the spring, agreed with Appel. "We make sure we get some good kids. We know if they are academically focused in high school and you recruit them, they will likely continue while they are with the program," he said.

"It is a collaborative effort between us [SAASS], coaches, athletes and administrators," Appel added.

Most impressively, 17 student-athletes made the "Straight A Team" by earning a perfect 4.0 GPA and a spot on the President's List. In addition, 114 RedHawks made the Dean's List by having between a 3.50 and 3.99 GPA during the semester while nearly 60 percent of all student-athletes made the Honor Roll by at least having a 3.0.

This spring, the RedHawk women earned bragging rights over the general female student body with a 3.26 GPA compared to a 3.22 GPA for all women at Miami during the semester. On the men's side, male athletes totaled a 2.91 GPA, just shy of the 2.99 GPA that all men at Miami compiled spring semester. The two most distinguished teams this semester were Mandrell's men's cross country team (3.57 GPA) and the women's cross country team, which garnered a 3.47 GPA.

"We make sure to recognize the athletes for their efforts with personal congratulations," said Mandrell, who individually congratulated members of his team for their outstanding effort in the classroom.

The men's cross country team, men's golf and softball recently won Public Recognition Awards for scoring in the top 10 percent nationally in their NCAA sport for their Academic Progress Rate. It was softball's first award, cross country's fifth, and golf's sixth.

"Our coaches are not only good at recruiting students who are good on the field, court, ice, track or in the pool, but in the classroom as well," said Dr. Susan Lipnickey, Miami's Faculty Athletic Representative. "They go after students who will not only succeed at Miami, but in the real world as well."

Throughout the 2010-11 school year, 11 different RedHawks were named Scholar Athletes of the Week by the Mid-American Conference.

At the time of Spring Commencement, 67 student-athletes were eligible to graduate and 10 more were slated to graduate in August according to Appel.

--MURedHawks.com--