Marquette athletes are having success on more than just the field, track and court by outperforming other Division I athletes academically, according to the NCAA.
The latest NCAA student-athlete graduation success rate for Marquette was 92 percent. This statistic refers to athletes who graduate in six years or leave the university with at least a 2.0 grade point average. Nationally, the NCAA reported an 80 percent graduation success rate.
Mike Broeker, acting athletic director, said the athletic department does not necessarily celebrate these figures. Instead, he said these numbers simply reaffirm that the department is meeting its obligation to the students.
He said graduating and performing well academically is part of an everyday expectation of the students and academic success is a reflection of the work of a great athletic department staff.
“Every team achieves as they should academically, and every athlete is moving forward towards a degree,” Broeker said.
He also said it is important to recruit students who are motivated to graduate.
Tom Ford, associate athletic director of academic support, works to help athletes with their academics. He said having successful students starts with recruiting athletes who are up to Marquette’s academic standards, although some exceptions are made.
“We take on a few students each year who do not fulfill academic norms but bring outstanding athletic ability,” he said. “We do this because we have had success with them graduating at rates equal to other students in the past.”
Ford said part of his job is to teach students to prepare for school three to four weeks in advance. This begins at the start of each semester when athletes give their instructors their athletic schedules and identify any conflicts.
He said the athletic department facilitates studying on the road and is able to proctor missed exams.
“We place emphasis on getting athletes through their freshman year at Marquette,” Ford said. “Students who are successful their freshman years typically continue good academic behaviors.”
Freshman athletes take part in a seven-week seminar on time management and are required to go to the Eagle’s Nest — a study space in the Al McGuire Center — three times a week for two hours at a time. The required study time is stopped when students attain and maintain a 3.0 GPA.
Ford said the average GPA for a student-athlete at Marquette is a 3.1 and that the women’s soccer team and both men and women’s cross-country teams always have outstanding academic success.
Olivia Johnson, a graduate student in accounting, and Peter Bolgert, a fifth year senior studying physics and mathematics, are track and cross-country runners who were named first-team academic all-Americans for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Johnson said the cross-country team consistently performs well academically because it is a part of their culture.
“Coach Mike Nelson pushes us to strive for excellence in academics,” she said.
Johnson also said she thinks the hard work ethic and intrinsic motivation needed for long distance running transfers to academics.
Bolgert said athletes who do not plan on pursuing a professional sports career have extra motivation to perform well academically.
“Marquette student-athletes realize this is the last time to put all their efforts into sports but also realize this is the time that they need to be developing their future careers,” he said.