How one college team is thinking outside the box to raise academic standards on their team.
Virginia Tech Bio
The Virginia Tech football team is rocking it, both on and off the field. On the field, they have had a winning season every year since 1993. They have had 21 consecutive bowl appearances, and one trip to the National Championship game in 1999. They have finished in the Top 20 during 16 of the past 21 seasons.
The Hokies are led by Coach Frank Beamer. Beamer, a Virginia Tech alumnus, has been at the helm since 1987.
Hokie Grades Matter
In the player’s lounge there are pictures of the players who have the highest GPA’s. There is a study hall room right next to the player lounge. It has 12 computer workstations and is always staffed with a tutor. I am indebted to Gregg Easterbrook’s book, The King of Sports for much of this information which led me to look into it for myself.
The Hokies have a tradition the day before home games that puts peer pressure on the players to do well in the classroom. On the Friday night before a game you will find the Hokie football team at a top notch steakhouse in Blacksburg, VA. Food is distributed in an unusual and compelling way. Players are called up to pick out their choice and cut of steak, not by seniority or playing time, but in order of GPA. If you are a star player, a captain, and a senior but you have a low GPA you will find yourself at the end of the line.
Not only is the choice of meat on the line, so also is positive peer pressure. Each Hokie football player knows exactly how his teammates are doing in the classroom.
The Hokie Tunnel
Another fascinating tradition is the tunnel that players run out onto the field on game day. It is cut out of limestone from the area. As one passes through the tunnel, he will see the names of all the former players who have graduated. What will be missing will be the name of Michael Vick. The most famous Hokie never graduated and thus his name is absent from this most honored tunnel of forbearers. Their website has great pictures of the Hokie stadium and locker room facility.
If you were a Division 1 football player that chose Virginia Tech, you would be 10% more likely to graduate than if chose FSU or NCS. However, you would be 17% less likely to graduate than if you had chosen Duke or Boston College.
And mom’s think about this: if you sent your baby boy to play football at Duke (92% graduation rate), he would be 27% more likely to walk across the stage, diploma in hand than if you had placed him in the care of the football program down the road at North Carolina State (65% graduation rate).
You think it doesn’t matter!
For an easy research tool for Division 1 graduation rates, go to http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/division-i-graduation-success-rates-search
What You Should Look For if Academics Matter to You
As you are looking for a team, ask the coach and the players the role of academics in the life of the team. Do they have things in place to help them succeed in the classroom? Do they care? How will playing on this team assist you and encourage you to get a great education? Will your time in the program enhance or take away from your academic success? If a major Division 1 football team like Virginia Tech can take care of their grades, every program in every sport can have equal success. Find a program that will give you the best chance to succeed.
Next, take a look at What is NCAA Division 1?
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