Student-athletes boast grad rate higher than student body’s

Youngstown State University graduates student-athletes at the lowest rate among Division I schools in Ohio, but their numbers are still better than those of the rest of the student body. By 2010, only 35 percent of first-time students — out of all those who enrolled in 2004 — graduated.

Student-athletes with scholarships graduated at 56 percent.

The athletic department provides student-athletes with one-on-one contact through two separate athletic academic advisers. These advisers meet with student-athletes to ensure that they’re balancing athletic practices and events with studying.

Junior volleyball player Chelsea Guerrieri said that as a freshman, she attended study tables for six hours a week.

“It almost forces you to study,” she said. “I mean, of course, we want to all have fun, but study tables force you to do your work.”

Elaine Jacobs, associate athletic director, said coaches provide a third defense after students meet with athletic and regular advisers.

“You also have the coaches who serve as the hammer in motivating student athletes to study and succeed,” she said. “We are trying to utilize every opportunity we can to get them to graduation.”

If any student-athletes don’t attend the required study tables, the whole team is usually punished, Guerrieri said.

“We may have to run or do other extra exercise,” she said. “You’re not only screwing yourself over by not getting your work done, but you’re also screwing over your teammates. The team has to suffer and take that extra time out of practice.”

Guerrieri said coaches often bring in motivational speakers to stress the importance of balancing athletics with academics.

“Our coaches and advisers help with scheduling and really try to make sure we’re on the right track,” she said. “They plan accordingly, so that practices don’t conflict with classes.”