OUR VIEW: Coach academic MVPs

A Daily Journal editorial

August 5, 2014

Richmond County Schools’ next superintendent will have a full plate as he or she adjusts to the new role with the 2014-15 school year just weeks away.

This may not be a top priority, but the superintendent should work with school board members and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association to explore the possibility of raising the academic standards for student-athletes — not only in Richmond County, but throughout the state as well.

During a recent four-part series on academics and athletics in the Daily Journal, our reporting showed that only a handful of North Carolina counties have a minimum required grade-point average. The rest toe the line of the NCHSAA’s requirement of passing three classes out of four in a block schedule or five out of six in the traditional schedule.

The standard line school officials used when asked if the NCHSAA, its member schools or the local school boards should raise the standards was, “Only a fraction of a percentage of the athletes play in college.”

This is true, and statistics show students who play sports or engage in extracurricular activities perform better in school than those who do not.

It’s a great start, but it won’t come close to ensuring the student-athletes who desire to play their sport on the next level have the ability to get into the college of their choosing. The NCAA is set to raise the bar on its academic requirements to play at either the Division I or II level.

Right now, it seems like the state of North Carolina could be left behind. Some of the state’s top athletes may soon be forced to watch collegiate games from the sideline, the stands or from the comfort of their living room because they weren’t able to meet the new academic standards.

Over in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, student-athletes are required to maintain a 2.0 GPA each semester to remain eligible. One of the positives from CMS’ action — and it may have been completely unintentional — is that its student-athletes are in a position to be recruited to play in college. This doesn’t mean all would be eligible because that would depend on their SAT or ACT test scores, but it does give them a leg up on their competition for scholarships across the state.

Some might say asking a student-athletes to maintain a 2.0 GPA would result in a backlash. Players could quit not only their teams, but leave school as well.

This almost sounds like a double standard. During practices and games, coaches try to squeeze every ounce of effort they can from their players. So why shouldn’t administrators ask the same from their students in the classroom?

Isn’t the main job of a school to prepare students for the “real world?”

Not everyone is destined for four-year university or even community colleges, and that is an unfortunate reality. However, there could be students across the state who never thought they would have the opportunity to go to college, but they get that chance because they were “forced” to keep a 2.0 GPA in order to play sports.

Those would be the type of championships we would could all celebrate and embrace.