Student athletes juggle class and the competition

When it comes down to balancing academics with athletics, it’s a hard act to juggle. Athletes have the pressure of doing well on the field or the court while going to school at the same time.

Albert Chester II, a 21-year-old pharmacy student from Jacksonville, and quarterback for the football team, has dealt with his hectic school schedule and football practices by just simply writing down what he has to do.

“People are naturally going to have busy days, so I manage my time,” Chester said. “I have a daily planner for everything I need to do.”

Athletes receive support from their teammates on the court, but off the court there is also a support system.

FAMU staff advisors such as Joyce Thomas and Travis Green make sure students stay on track and get through those tough seasons by assisting students with their homework or just having their doors open.

L.C. Robinson, a 20-year-old criminal justice student from Rockford, Ill., has had some battles with schoolwork after long practices.

“I have four classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting from 9:10 till 2, said Robinson. “Then I have practice from 2:45 till 5 in the afternoon on those days. Tuesdays I have practice from 12:15 to about three with just one class that day,” said Robinson of his schedule of his schedule as a student athlete.

Robinson plays for the Rattler men’s basketball team.

“It’s been times I had a practice and just ended up going to sleep afterwards,” said Robinson, ” I had either got up and went to class late or just not going at all.”

Rome Sanders, a 22-year-old criminal justice student from Chicago, said athletes sometimes just have to force themselves to get work done. Sanders is a center, and leading scorer, on the men’s basketball team

“It’s hard, but the time I do get I force myself to study, especially when I’m frustrated with how I was playing, so school suffers, you just take as much help as you can get.”

In addition to balancing school and sports, student athletes have tough social decisions to make.

“You can’t go out and do things your friends do,” Chester said.

“You have to be focused. You can’t follow everybody else. People wish they could be in my spot.”

But when it comes down to it. Student athletes know that schoolwork surpasses the sport because without the right grades, they don’t play.

“School work comes first,” Robinson said. “You shouldn’t push athletics.”

Many times athletes fall short of expectations, which can have an adverse affect on the University. In the 2005-2006 school year FAMU lost a number of scholarships after falling short of the Academic Progress Rate standards of the NCAA.

With FAMU being a Division I institution, there’s a score the University must reach in order to comply with NCAA bylaws.

A team APR is the total points earned by the team, then divided by total points possible. Out of .1000, which is a perfect score, you only have to score .925 to stay in compliance. In the 2005-2006 APR report, men’s basketball received a score of .828, losing 1 scholarship; football received a score of .832, losing 8 scholarships and men’s baseball scored .828 losing 1.07 scholarships.

A sport can lose a scholarship on a simple eligibility and retention point system.

The type of scholarship all depends on what type of sport it is. For instance, a men’s basketball is a head count sport, which means one scholarship for one player. Though an equivalency sport such as volleyball can be broken up into a percent, so three or more athletes can be on one scholarship depending on the percentage. An athlete can get four points per school year or two a semester, one point for getting the grades and one for just coming back to school depending upon if they made the grade and came back to school.

FAMU loses out on athletes and scholarships when students just don’t come back due to different situations that may arise.

That’s is why FAMU has student advisors to help students graduate so the University may have a better retention rate next year, in turn keeping scholarships and students.

Even though FAMU wants to make sure they are in compliance with NCAA bylaws, what’s more important is these same students also graduate from their perspective programs.

“They’re not enough students graduating from college period,” according to Marlynn Jones, associate director of athletes and senior woman administrator.

Jones said with the support of the staff and athletes, being able to play and graduate would no longer be an issue.