How important are strong academics in getting an athletic scholarship from college coaches?

Grades and receiving an athletic scholarshipWhen writing an article, I always seem to have to preface it first just in case someone is reading into it too much. But let me tell you, grades are vital to getting an athletic scholarship as well as an academic scholarship. I wanted to say first that just because you have a 4.0, you have to be able to play your sport of choice very well if you want an athletic scholarship. That 4.0 grade point average will help with academic scholarships, but you need to be able to play if you want that money for athletics.

When coaches are looking for prospective kids, a number of programs look at grades and make a decision based on that. This can happen before they see you play or well before you see their campus. It doesn’t matter because at some academic institutions, they will not even consider you unless your grades (As well as ACT/SAT scores) are up to par. This normally happens at the Division III level or any school that has high academic standards.

For state schools that have lower academic requirements, sending in your transcripts with a 3.8 and a 29 on your ACT will definitely impress any coach, from Division I to Division III. For example, say the University of Texas is looking for a basketball player. They have three kids they have already offered scholarships and you are among that next group of athletes. If that first group of kids decides to go elsewhere, and you are able to play at that level, grades can help you stand out from the pack.

Academics are very important because it shows to the schools that you are very serious about school. While many elite players did not have to spent much time in college, the majority of athletes need to finish with a degree so they can move on with their life outside of athletics. Good academics also shows to schools that this player that they are recruiting is probably a good kid with his head on straight. While most schools know what they are getting with troubled players, an athlete with a high GPA is one that helps the coach sleep well at night. This is the kid that is expected to do well on the court/field, in the classroom, and outside of it as well.

Obviously at the Division I-A level, schools can only give full rides for football and basketball. But when looking at Division I-AA football and lower as well as Division II basketball, grades become huge in this matter. These college coaches are doing what they can to stretch their scholarship dollar as far as they can. And you as an athlete want to leave college with as little debt as possible once you finish up with school. If it works out and you are not one of their elite prospects, what these coaches can do is offer a full scholarship based 50% on athletics and 50% on academics. As an athlete, you may not know it at the time but leaving college without any debt is something that is worth working hard on the field and in the classroom.

For some at the high school level, it may be too late to achieve the 3.8 GPA that most kids desire to graduate. But if you are past that, there are still some things you can do. The first is to try harder in your classes. If anything, use the motivation of having less student loans in the coming years to help you. I promise you may not realize it now but students loans are not a good thing. The second thing is to take an ACT/SAT prep course and take it serious. If you focus on it and really buy into it, this course can really help you improve your score. And unlike I did, take your tests multiple times. I know it is a brutal way to spend your weekend in the classroom but the better you do, the less money you will have to pay for college. If given a chance to do it over, I would have taken it at least three times. But at the time, I was very unaware of what it really meant and what I needed to score.

And last but not least, working hard in school is important. If things fall through in athletics and you hurt your back for your career, having strong academics can help you open doors professionally. These strong high school academics can also help you lower your tuition, even if you quit your chosen sport and have the scholarship taken away. Outside of putting a little effort into it, there is little drawback for putting a lot of time into your academics.


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