USD student-athletes sport high achievements in classrooms

Even though student-athletes at the University of South Dakota have had to spend more time outside of the classroom because of increased travel with Division I schedules, they still are able to excel in the classroom.

This past fall semester, University of South Dakota's student-athletes obtained a collective 3.148 GPA.

"This is another reflection of our coaching staff to find athletes who can compete on the court and in the classroom," USD Athletic Director Joel Nielsen said. "Also, it's a credit to the athletes for putting in the time and effort in the classroom and to stay dedicated and study on the road."

Ten of USD's 15 teams attained GPAs of 3.1 or higher for the fall semester, led by the men's cross country team at 3.514.

There were 42 student-athletes who attained a perfect 4.0 GPA for the fall semester.

"I think it was a very positive fall semester across the board," USD Coordinator of Athletic Academic Advising David Lorenz said. "It reflects well on how the students manage their time and their coaches for understanding the academic side."

USD also placed 20 student-athletes on the Great West Fall Academic All-Conference Team.

Nielsen said Lorenz and his staff is one of the reasons all of the teams have been doing well in the classroom.

"Dave and Becky (Flynn-Jensen) put in many hours assisting in working on scheduling and setting up study tables and tutors," he said. "Just the day-to-day operations those two handle are to be commended."

Student athletes on two of the teams from the fall semester – volleyball and soccer – missed some of the most class time, but were still able to sustain a high GPAs of 3.288 and 3.179, respectively.

"Both of those programs missed about 15 days of class and for what they achieved, it says a lot about their priorities," Lorenz said.

Part of the reason the student-athletes are able to keep up with their school work despite missed class time is because of the cooperation of the many professors at USD.

"The faculty and staff have been wonderful to work with and they have done a great job working with our student-athletes," Nielsen said. "It's great to see the cooperation between coaches and the faculty as well."

Another reason for the student-athletes' success is the responsibility the coaches take on in making sure their players are studying on road trips.

"I do think it's difficult, but it's definitely not an out," USD head volleyball coach Matt Houk said. "There is a lot of study time on the road and they are required to study a certain amount of hours, whether it's on a bus or in the hotel."

Even though the volleyball team did achieve a high GPA as a team, Houk said the team can do even better academically.

"We were very pleased with our GPA, but we can strive to have an even higher one," he said.

USD soccer player Erin Bello said the same thing about the soccer team, even though they earned a 3.179 team GPA.

"Our goal as a team was to get a 3.25 and we got that last year, so we were a little bummed, but we will get it back," she said.

Bello is an art major and earned a 3.8 GPA in the fall semester.

Bello said one of the things that she feels helps the students when they are not on the road is the study tables for the athletes.

"When you are a freshman, you have to go to the study table 10 hours a week and it definitely helps and forces you to stay on track," she said.

Lorenz said the high GPA in Coyote athletics shows how much the student-athletes use the study tables and tutors.

"There is very little difficulty to get them to use the study tables because they know how valuable it is to keep them on track," he said. "It's more for the younger athletes, and it helps teach them the discipline of time management and setting aside time for studying."

After men's cross country, the women's golf team followed with a GPA of 3.504. The tennis team posted a 3.437 and the women's basketball team and softball each posted a 3.374 GPA.

The women's swimming and diving team earned a 3.353 GPA and women's track had a 3.276.

The women's cross country team finished with a 3.241 GPA in the fall semester.

All USD teams had a GPA of 2.884 or higher for the fall semester.

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