The student side of the student-athlete

Elise Covert, Sports Co-Editor

Bison athletic teams have seen unprecedented success on the field, court, and track this academic year. But as fans, we are less privy to the remarkable student-athlete success that occurs in the classroom.

The Patriot League is one of only two Division I conferences in the nation to require certain academic achievement standards of its student-athletes. Originally established as the Colonial League in 1983, the Patriot League consists of universities who “promote quality athletics within the context of academic excellence.” The League’s Mission Statement highlights the importance of both academic and personal growth of student-athletes. The goal of each member school is to afford students the opportunity to demonstrate success primarily in the classroom, and then in athletic competition.

To reinforce this mission, the League issues League Academic Honor Roll awards each semester, as well as recognizing an Academic All-Patriot League Team and selecting sport-specific Scholar-Athletes of the Year. The University’s student-athletes are consistently recipients of these awards, with Bison student-athletes taking home 151 Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards since academic year 1990-91, the most in the League.

Bison athletes have not only received recognition from the League, but also on the national stage. 72 student-athletes from the University have been honored as College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-Americans since 1970, the most of any school in the Patriot League since that year, according to League records.

Additionally, the NCAA, the governing body for collegiate athletics tracks an Academic Progress Rate, or APR. Student-athletes can earn points for their team for remaining academically eligible for competition throughout the semester and for remaining enrolled for the next academic term. Nationwide, teams who do not meet a certain team APR score threshold shoulder NCAA-imposed penalties. In May 2017, every varsity program for the Orange and Blue met the national threshold, with 15 teams holding perfect scores. Additionally, 15 teams placed in the top 10 percent of highest APR scores for their respective sports nationwide.

The Bison Athletics program also has consistently made national headlines for its student-athlete graduation rate. The latest reports from November 2017 place the University’s Federal Graduation Rate for student-athletes at 90 percent, the fourth-highest in the country. In 2013, the University ranked first in the nation in this measure. According to NCAA figures, 15 varsity programs had perfect 100 percent graduation rates.

All of these measures go to show that our Bison student-athletes should not only be recognized for their success in competition, but also for how they excel in the classroom.

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