Our excellent coaches and competitive athletic teams are a vital and important element of our campus culture. Fifty-eight percent of students participate in recreational sports or intercollegiate athletics, and 29 percent of all recruited students are student-athletes. Not only do athletic programs benefit student recruitment, retention, and alumni engagement, data show that Division III student-athletes on average have significantly better time-management skills and more “leadership potential” than non-athletes. We will ensure that recruiting student-athletes remains a priority and that while at Trinity, student athletes receive ongoing support to balance their academic, athletic, and social commitments. We will investigate the sufficiency of the Bell Center and other facilities to ensure that we possess adequate campus resources to support student needs.
Over the past year, the Trinity University athletics average GPA has risen steadily, sitting at 3.186 in spring 2018. In fact, during the spring, 16 of Trinity’s 18 NCAA varsity athletics teams had team GPAs above 3.0, the most in three years, and the athletics women’s teams’ GPA was higher than Trinity’s average student GPA (3.361 and 3.249, respectively).
Academic initiatives within each sport, as well as overall department support, have been crucial for this success. For example, Jerheme Urban ’03, head football coach, has implemented initiatives that have steadily increased the team GPA over his four years at Trinity, from 2.917 in spring 2014 to 3.012 in spring 2018. Several of his initiatives include: a writing-intensive summer bridge program for first-year students; an academic success program, spearheaded by coach Paul Michalak, that requires with weekly meetings to review class progress; a transition to morning practices, which “sends them to class primed for learning,” according to Urban; and a requirement that they sit in the first two rows of class to enhance focus and engagement with the professor.
Urban rounds these all out with one goal: success after college. “Ultimately we are training these students for life after football,” he explains. “With no football scholarships, they are all investing in their future, and I feel like these initiatives help keep that in perspective for them.”
For Dylan Harrison ’02, head women’s soccer coach, that academics-first perspective begins at the recruitment level. “We try to attract the most qualified students possible by ensuring their academic experience will always take priority over athletics,” Harrison says. “From there, it is our job to make sure we stay true to this promise... but it starts with each player placing a priority on their own academics.”
Harrison’s team has the highest GPA of any Tiger athletics team, men’s or women’s: 3.561. He says his student-athletes stay on track with preseason meetings about class scheduling, study time during away game trips, and, like Urban, early-morning practices. “By 8 a.m. our team has completed their commitments to soccer, and the rest of the day is dedicated to academics,” Harrison explains.
Harrison sums up the academics-first viewpoint that he and Urban share: “We are fortunate that our student-athletes chose Trinity for its academics—being successful on the soccer side just enhances their whole collegiate experience.”