Athletics smart to emphasize studies

Student-athletes have been long maligned by education and media outlets for putting the “athlete” before the “student.”The relatively low graduation rates among athletics programs nationwide, long considered one of the gold standards for having a successful program, have even gone so far as to question whether institutions of higher learning put too much emphasis on successful athletics.

With that being said, it should make the TCU football program and their fans feel proud knowing the program has maintained graduation rates above the national average for its sport.

The outlook on today’s college athletics can be as ugly as the stories that attempt to depict student-athletes as hired guns serving only one purpose: to win.

This is not one of those stories.

Instead, maybe it will downplay that stereotype and remind critics that some athletes do indeed do not want to play professional sports for a living and have higher aspirations away from on-campus glory.

The graduation success rate of the program should also serve as a challenge to the other athletic programs to rise above the NCAA average.

If head coach Gary Patterson can have his team above the graduation success rate average in a sport that is one of the two most criticized for its low graduation rate, then one can only hope it will push coaches and administrators to put even more emphasis on success in the classroom than success on the field of play.

Though these numbers are encouraging, this should only be the beginning. Whether it is a program as big as football or as small as equestrian, coaches and administrators need to further the academic progression of its student-athletes whenever and however possible.

Smart student-athletes could give way to a smarter team on the field. That is why the student comes first in student-athlete.

Sports editor Tim Bella for the editorial board.