South Carolina student-athletes continued to shine in the classroom this past year. A combined grade point average of 3.23 for spring 2017 was the 21st consecutive semester in which South Carolina student-athletes held a GPA of 3.0 or better. South Carolina also led the SEC for the 2016-17 academic year in the total number of student-athletes listed on the league's fall, winter, spring and first year academic honor rolls.
“Our student-athletes compete for success in the classroom as vigorously as they do in the sport of competition,” said Athletics Director Ray Tanner. “Our Academic Services Staff works with our student-athletes to prepare them for the goal of academic excellence. Graduation is the ultimate goal, and our student-athletes do a great job in working for that.”
“It’s part of the culture here,” said Maria Hickman, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Academics and Student Development. “We have become accustomed to saying that we’ve achieved a 3.0 or better, so for the freshmen it becomes part of the norm. We pride ourselves in how we do things academically.”
It’s part of our culture. The academics side is something we talk about from day one .McGee Moody, Swimming & Diving Head Coach
Fourteen of the eighteen South Carolina athletics teams earned a 3.0 or better GPA this past spring. All seven eligible women’s golfers were on the list, while women’s swimming and diving (3.705) earned its second highest GPA to date, which not only led all of the Gamecock programs this spring, but it also ranked second nationally. Both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams received Scholar All-America Team honors, while 20 student-athletes were named Scholar All-Americans.
“We try to find the total package when we recruit,” said head swimming and diving coach McGee Moody. “We try to research them not only as athletes, but also what kind of student they are, and what kind of person they are. We have a very specific dynamic we are trying to build and academics are a big part of what we do.”
The success of the individual programs as well as athletics facilities are just a few of the selling points coaches use in recruiting. The resources available at South Carolina to help the student-athletes earn their degree,, such as the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center, are also big factors in the recruiting process and continued academic success of the Gamecocks.
“The academics side is huge for us in recruiting,” said women’s soccer head coach Shelley Smith, whose team boasted a 3.57 GPA last semester. “You come to school to get an education, first and foremost. That’s how we approach things. We have players that want to play professionally, and that dictates which schools they look at. But at the end of the day, the education is as important, or more important, because you carry that the rest of your life.
“When we recruit athletes, the Dodie is a very important piece. We always have our academic advisor involved in showing that facility. They [staff at the Dodie] do a tremendous job. Whether the recruits are already extremely strong students coming in, or if it's a student that needs a little help, they have the resources to succeed here.”
“We have great academic advisors here,” Moody added. “They truly care about the performance of our student-athletes, and they care about them being student-athletes, and not just athletes. It’s part of our culture. The academics side is something we talk about from day one when they arrive on campus. A big part of our job as head coaches is to help young men and women learn to navigate their four years as college students, and then have them prepared to go out and be successful contributing members of society when they leave.”
“All of our advisors and learning specialists work tirelessly on a daily basis to help our student-athletes,” Hickman said. “It starts at the top with Coach Tanner. He puts an emphasis on academics and it trickles down. That’s been the culture since I’ve been here.”
South Carolina named 66 student-athletes to the President’s List (4.0 GPA) this spring, 164 to the Dean’s List (3.5 for sophomores and higher/3.25 for freshmen), and 353 to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll (3.0). South Carolina recently graduated 81 student-athletes with another 23 expected to graduate in August.