Athletics and Academics

Student athletes have access to many different supports for their academic and athletic careers

Published by and , Date: November 12, 2021

Student athletes at Slippery Rock University stand out among the general body by balancing their athletics and academics. There are 445 student athletes on SRU’s roster and the athletics cumulative GPA for athletes after the spring 2021 semester was a 3.398. 

Student athletes are required to sustain a high GPA while maintaining the life of a full-time student and a full-time athlete. Athletic teams at SRU strive to be successful both on the field and in the classroom.

According to the Slippery Rock University Student Athlete Handbook, to be academically eligible to participate in athletics, student athletes must be full-time students earning 24-semester hours of academic credit during any school year. Additionally, a student athlete must achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of a 2.000.

Student athletes must adhere to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) and institutional rules and regulations regarding their academic eligibility. SRU Men’s Soccer Coach, Kevin Wilhelm spoke on this.

“The NCAA does have a GPA and the GPA is 2.0,” Wilhelm said. “You have to pass each semester and a certain number for the entire academic year that you have to pass to be eligible.

“As far as us as a team, we use that 2.0. But where we differ from that is any of our guys that don’t have a 3.0 or higher have to do study hours all year long. So if they get above a 3.0 then they get out of study hours and that includes freshmen through seniors.”

Academic integrity is something the university takes pride in with their students and SRU coaches spoke out about the academic success of their players. Wilhelm spoke further about their schedule and emphasized how important time management is. He described the schedule of the soccer team and how it makes proper time management necessary.

“There’s not as much free time is what it comes down to, even in the offseason,” Wilhelm said. “A lot of times we’re doing lifting sessions early in the morning and training sessions late in the evening.

“So, they have a window of opportunity throughout the day where they’re taking their classes, doing their work, study, whatever it may be.”

The SRU Women’s Field Hockey Coach, Rayell Heistand discussed the time management of the players and how they ensure their athletes are in good academic standing.

“I’d say being a student athlete teaches students how to manage their time and within that, their priorities like a task list of what needs to get done first and everything,” Heistand said. “But even working with others in any capacity, because you have group work then too.

“What I always say is you can learn so much just by playing a sport. You’ll be able to apply it to things for the rest of your life. Even though sometimes they don’t see it now, and I didn’t see it right away, when you get out in a couple of years then you will see it.”

Student athletes have athletic and academic integrity that puts them in a position to develop strong time management skills and challenges them to do their best. Although each sports team at SRU has a different method of ensuring their student athletes are fulfilling their academic requirements, it has been found that student athletes succeed with study tables and study hours required by their team.

Student athletes from the women’s field hockey and men’s soccer team discussed their approach and opinion on mandatory study hours.

Graduate student on the field hockey team, Haley Plitt discusses her experiences with study tables and biweekly meetings. 

“I actually love the to-do lists,” Plitt said. “It’s pretty much just an excel file and you write down all of your classes each week.

“The file is already laid out with the due date, start date and the date when the assignments were given. It is kind of like a planner, but already laid out for you.”  

​​Anthony Gagliardi, freshman sport management major on the men’s soccer team at SRU, spoke about study tables. 

“Once you’re actually in there, it’s actually super beneficial because it is just you and the screen,” Gagliardi said. “It’s quiet, there are no distractions and I notice I get a lot of my work done during that time.”

There are many options for student athletes to maintain their GPA aside from study tables.  Coach Wilhelm tries to pair younger plays with older players that have similar majors. This is a useful way for players to have other students to look forward to for help with classes, professors and similar things that come with their majors.  

Wilhelm stated he recruits soccer players out of high school with a high GPA because they generally have an easier transition to college academically.

“Study hours are our main avenue and really a lot of it comes down to the type of student athletes that are recruited,” Wilhelm said. “The other thing is, we really have no athletic aid here for men’s soccer.

“So, for a student athlete to come and get the package, they need to be a high achieving student that can get academic aid, because we don’t have a lot that we give out as far as athletics.”

For the spring 2021 semester, the women’s field hockey team averaged the highest GPA of all athletic teams at SRU with a team average of 3.794. 

“In general, for field hockey players, and you can use this across all divisions and all schools, you really don’t have an issue with the NCAA requirements in that area for us,” Heistand said. “We believe you can be successful on the field and in the classroom at the same time so you are expected to do the best you can in both.”

The correlation between athletics and academics seem positive for student athletes at SRU as they are committed to being full time students and athletes. Being on an athletic team, students get the opportunity to learn teamwork and goal setting. 

What student athletes bring to the playing field applies to their everyday lives, especially influencing their academics and future successes. 

With an emphasis on the “student” in student athlete, players and coaches part of an athletic team at SRU recognize the importance of time management.


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