HANNAH MORRIS AND CINNAMON PLAYER
Athletic prowess is not the only priority for Northwestern State University athletes. The athletic department holds their athletes to high standards with three core values: academic achievement, personal responsibility and competitive success.
The NSU volleyball team is successful on the court and in the classroom, Greg Burke, director of athletics, and Sean Kiracofe, head volleyball coach said.
To meet the second value, student-athletes participate in Victorious for Life, a leadership development and community service program that facilitates student-athlete involvement in the community and on campus. Victorious for Life aims to prepare student athletes to have a solid personal foundation, along with their academic progress and athletic ability.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and success of college athletes. By participating in Victorious for Life, student-athletes are held not only to NCAA standards, but also to specific NSU standards.
“Regardless of what we do as an administration, or what they do as coaches, we’ve got NCAA guidelines that athletes must comply with,” Burke said.
Along with these guidelines are progress towards degree and academic progress rate, which track student-athletes’ journey to graduation.
“They have to be enrolled in 12 hours minimum every semester. If they drop below 12 hours, they are automatically ineligible,” Jasmine Chievous, assistant athletic director for student-athlete development, said. Student-athletes must maintain a minimum 1.8 GPA to remain eligible to play their sport and keep their scholarships.
The academic department of athletics uses GradesFirst, a software program, to monitor student-athletes’ grades, performance and attendance.
The volleyball team has been awarded the “Team Academic Award” for the past two years, according to Kiracofe. They are looking to recruit students who will add to this success.
“You’re constantly trying to be prepared for the next class coming in,” Kiracofe said. “Each position is a little bit different, but you’re looking for physical ability and [that] they can fill a role with what you’re looking for. How their family is, what they’re like in the classroom [is also important].”
Prospective students must meet certain academic thresholds set by their high school and by the NCAA, and must meet the same criteria as other collegiate student-athletes.
According to Burke, “When it comes to the classroom, [all athletes] are on the same playing field as everyone else.” Burke, Kiracofe and other athletic department members aim to create great players and also make successful individuals after college.