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Phoenix perform on court, in class

Sarah Chayer , News Writer
November 14, 2013
Filed under News

While some may know them to excel on the court, the Phoenix athletes have also managed excel off the court

According to the Horizon League website, eight of 13 UWGB athletic teams achieved 100 percent Graduation Success Rate. Green Bay was particularly noted.

“I want to congratulate Green Bay on its commitment to academic achievement, as demonstrated by these figures,” said Jonathan B. LeCrone, Horizon League Commissioner, in the website post, pleased with the graduation success rates of UWGB as well as other schools in the league.

GSR is used by the NCAA to measure how well a school is teaching student athletes, according to Deborah Furlong, policy and program analyst at UWGB.

“The GSR is a percent of student athletes who started college as new freshmen in a particular fall who have graduated within six years, or who left college in good standing with academic eligibility remaining,” Furlong said.

Student athletes are divided into groups called cohorts, which is determined by the year in which the students started at the school, said Furlong. All student

athletes who started school this fall are part of the 2013 cohort.

According to Furlong, the GSR rate is calculated by dividing the number of student athletes who graduate within the six-year span by the total number of cohorts for that year. Overall, UWGB’s rates were among the highest of Horizon League.

“The only Division I schools in the UW-System are Madison, Milwaukee and Green Bay,” Furlong said. “Milwaukee and Green Bay are in the Horizon League, while Madison is in the Big Ten.”

According to Dan McIver, the interim athletic director at UWGB, other schools that compete in the Horizon League include University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Detroit Mercy, Oakland University and Cleveland State University.

For the cohort year of 2006, the NCAA website posted that the majority of Horizon League schools overall averaged 80 percent for their GSR. UW-Milwaukee overall had a 77 percent, with 100 percent being only for women’s volleyball and women’s tennis.

In comparison, UWGB had 100 percent GSR for 2006 cohort in women’s volleyball, women’s track, women’s tennis, women’s swimming, women’s basketball, men’s track, men’s tennis and men’s basketball.

Kevin Borseth, Phoenix women’s basketball head coach, is proud of UWGB’s success with athletes, but is not surprised.

“When we recruit student athletes, we look at their academic success,” Borseth said. He looks for three correlated factors when recruiting new athletes: social, athletic, and academic.

“Those three balls are very important, and generally speaking, players should have those three balls in the air,” Borseth said. “Conversely, if you drop one of those three balls, the other two tend to suffer with that. So the key is to recruit people who can juggle all three balls in the air.”

Borseth also finds that the athletic department works hard to make sure student athletes succeed academically, since they are students first and foremost.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to be a student. You’re here to get your education. That’s your primary objective,” Borseth said. “Athletes are offered the opportunity to compete while they’re getting their degree, so they’re expected to be good students.”

One method the athletic department uses to enforce academic success include mandatory  study tables  three times a week for freshmen, said James Merner, UWGB’s swimming and diving coach.

The department also checks student athletes’ grades and class attendance to make sure they aren’t slipping.

“When I recruit young people to come here, my philosophy is that I don’t like to hold their hand walking through college,” Merner said. “They need to stand up on their own and make their own decisions. Be responsible for their own success. But in their freshmen year, we want to make certain that they have a great way to start.”

Borseth said that teams spending a lot of time together often create a sort of support system for each other. Upperclassmen take on a mentor role for younger team members to help them academically and socially.

“Being a student athlete is not easy,” Merner said. “But being a student is not easy for anyone.”

He adds that any student who graduates should be proud of themselves, as should the school they graduate from.