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Gophers see 63 Big Ten All-Academic athletes for Fall

Standards for All-Academic athletes are lower than those for other students.

With poor graduation success and academic progress rates, Gopher student-athletes have come under recent scrutiny.

But last week, officials announced 63 student-athletes garnered Big Ten All-Academic awards this fall.

To be eligible for All-Academic selection, student-athletes must carry a grade point average of 3.0 or better.

The football program saw 24 players selected, the women’s soccer team 10, women’s volleyball seven, while the men’s and women’s cross country teams had a combined 22 members receive the accolades.

Sophomore cross country runner Jamie Cheever saw her second selection to the All-Academic team this fall.

“It’s cool they recognize people who are working hard in school and competing at that level,” she said. “I guess (it’s) an honor that the hard work, both in my sports and my school, is recognized.”

While time demands on student-athletes are addressed by athletics officials through a number of programs within the department, Cheever said student-athletes have grown accustomed to managing their time.

“It is hard, but I think everyone who is competing at the Division I level has dealt with balancing both school and sports for a long time, since high school,” she said. “We’re all pretty good at doing it.”

Many other collegiate athletics conferences share the Big Ten’s 3.0 requirement for all-academic awards, but the Big 12’s is 3.20.

Also, at the University, academic awards for students are harder to come by, as a place on the Dean’s list requires a 3.67 GPA.

The Institute of Technology awards scholarships based on academic merit and require 3.5 GPA for undergraduates, Susan Kubitschek, director of student programs, said.

Graduating with honors is also more difficult for the general student body at the University, as the minimum GPA allowed in the College of Liberal Arts Honors program is 3.5.

History and sociology junior Suzy Maves said the Big Ten’s requirement could be based on different goals for the student-athletes.

“It might just be due to the fact that athletes aren’t necessarily going for the awards that are given to people who are focusing more intently on academics,” she said. “I feel like they have a lot more responsibilities and things, but so does everyone else.”

While the Big Ten’s award might be given based on a lower GPA, Maves said it could serve as a motivator to those who are less focused on athletics.

“I think the gap might also be due to the fact that GPAs just aren’t as high for athletes,” she said. “In order to have an academic All-American, it has to be attainable for the population that you’re giving it to.”

“If those GPAs aren’t as high, you’re going to have to lower the standards to be able to achieve it,” she said.

Math and physics junior Dan Brinkman said student-athletes face much higher demands on their time and different goals than the student body, but said the accolade “doesn’t sound very fair.”

“It is important to recognize the student-athletes who receive good grades,” he said. “Obviously you’d prefer to be recognizing the highest caliber athletes you can.”

Despite the gap, CLA Honors assistant program Director Pamela Baker said there are a number of student-athletes who are also in Honors, and the Big Ten’s awards are important.

“I think it means something, and they should be acknowledged,” she said. “3.0’s certainly a strong GPA, that’s a B, there’s nothing wrong with being a B student and B means good.”

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