Georia Works Towards Higher Grad Rates

DESTIN, Fla. -- Georgia athletic's department is in the process of implementing a new academic monitoring program amid growing concerns from some faculty about the state of scholastics in college athletics.

Athletic director Damon Evans outlined some of his plan here Saturday at the annual spring meeting of the Athletic Association's board of directors. 

Carla Williams, the school's senior woman administrator, will discuss with the board today a new policy to track the graduation progress of every athlete at the school.

Evans already has begun to put more individual emphasis on athletics than was provided in the past. He now meets one-on-one with every Georgia athlete who fails to record at least a 2.0 GPA in a particular semester, and he will begin this year to have an individual meeting with every incoming athlete to stress the importance of academics.

"I believe if you show them you truly care about it, they are going to try to do something to impress you," he said.

The subject of academics was first broached by board member William Barstow, a faculty member at the school.

"I've noticed that we're allowing student-athletes to come in on the NCAA minimum," he said. "The possibility of academic success is very low with these student-athletes."

New NCAA minimums for initial eligibility have dropped in the last two years to the point that athletes can be admitted with extremely low standardized test scores. That issue already had been broached here earlier this week at the Southeastern Conference's annual spring meetings. 

The faculty athletic representatives from the league proposed a motion that would forbid schools from taking more than four male athletes and four female athletes that fall below the former NCAA minimums (an 820 SAT score), but the proposal was voted down.

"The FARs throughout the SEC are gravely concerned about this issue," said Jere Morehead, Georgia's faculty athletic representative. "It's going to come back up again next spring."

Currently, there is no limit to how many high-risk students a school can take. Georgia is among the schools in the league that take the fewest, Evans said.

"Some of our counterparts in the SEC, you would be quite shocked about where they are," he said.

Evans addressed the concerns of the faculty members but added that competitive balance will be a factor in how he treats the acceptance of high-risk students.

"It's a fine line for us," he said. "We have to make sure we maintain that balance."

Georgia is going to begin monitoring how each head coach at the university fares with the high-risk students it brings into its program and use that data to determine how much leeway that coach receives with similar students in the future, Evans said.

Bulldog athletes averaged a 2.9 GPA for the spring semester this year, which is the highest since the implementation of the semester system.

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