Q for Matt RE: Football Academics

There has obviously been a lot of discussion this week about the graduation rates for SEC teams and the fact that Arkansas ranks last. However, unless I am mistaken the UA football team has set program records for team GPA multiple times over the last year or so.

Furthermore, I thought I read that Arkansas had more players with a 3.0 GPA than any other team in the SEC within the same time period. Anyway, I am just wanting to verify that I had correct information on that. If so, then those numbers give a much more accurate reflection on where the football team academics are at this time. And the UA should consider sending out a press release to remind fans/alumni/media of that information and put graduation numbers in context.

The football GPA, graduates, etc., are higher under Bielema’s watch, although I do not know where they rank in terms of other SEC programs.

The Graduation Success Rate takes time to reflect what is going on now. It is a six-year graduation rate, so it will be seven years from now before today’s academic figures are reflected in the GSR.

Arkansas has set several records pertaining to academics. Even the GSR was a record for football, basketball, overall and some other sports.

I won’t recommend what the UA should do from a communications standpoint, just like I do not want it telling me what to write. I do know that PR101 says you accentuate the positives and steer clear from the negative. I doubt you will see much more from the UA than that academics are setting records, which is true even if it is behind its peers. Some might find that disingenuous, which is understandable, but I just see it as the way that field does business.

Almost every school in bigtime athletics has “jock majors” – degree programs they funnel athletes into to keep them eligible and hopefully maintain a decent grade point along the way. LSU has something called “interdisciplinary studies,” which seems to combine health sciences, leadership, organizations and writing/performing arts. A lot of our players seem to end up in Recreation and Sport Management. Auburn doesn’t even list majors; just which college the kid is enrolled in (a lot of them list Education, which the cynic might suspect means P.E.).

Obviously, a 3.0 in Interdisciplinary Studies at LSU isn’t going to be as difficult, or mean as much, as one in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford (I picked that particular player because he happens to be from Louisiana; it seems Stanford recruits the Bayou State quite a bit). And Stanford isn’t going to bend its admission standards very much for athletes, although Tiger Woods freely admits he wouldn’t have gotten into Stanford if he weren’t a star golfer (he had a 3.0 in Economics while he was there).