Saddleback athletes are students first; GPAs higher than required minimum

All community college student athlete transfers enrolled since the 2012-13 academic year are now held to the National Collegiate Athletic Association requirement of at least a 2.5 grade point average.

According to recent statistics from a 2014 press release by the Saddleback Athletics Office Saddleback says that since 2008 student athletes who are also full-time athletes have earned an average 2.75 GPA.

“Our initial drive or proponent behind providing this information was to show the community that student athletes in particular regardless of their ethnicity are more successful in the classroom as well as on the field because there is also a misnomer out there, ‘those stupid jocks don’t know anything, all you know is how to play basketball,’” said Senior Administrative Assistant Jess Perez.

Saddleback College student athletes on average earn the highest GPA on campus while also earning the most term units per semester, according to the press release. Since 2008 when students athlete educational statistics started to be studied by staff of the Division of Kinesiology and Athletics at Saddleback, student athletes at Saddleback earn on average .06 points higher than that of regular full-time students.

“That’s just not true especially at this level, I don’t know what it’s like coming out of high school but the first thing that happens when they get to this level especially here at Saddleback we are constantly pushing them you that you a are a student first before you are an athlete, student athlete,” Perez said. “So you got to do the job in the classroom and the caveat to that is if you don’t, you can’t play sports.”

Compared to full-time students and all part-time students attending Saddleback, student athletes have the largest success rate transferring to a four-year university with the necessary amount of units to transfer.

“This is kind of comparing students athletes versus the other students and their ethnicity, so you can see in every single area we are right at or higher than the average student here,” Perez said.

Although Saddleback student athletes are ethnically diverse, ethnicity isn’t a factor in determining the success rate of one athlete versus another.

The only students who are full-time that earn higher grades than student athletes are Asian students who earn about three percent of a higher success rate.

According to the student success scorecard, 75.8 percent of Asian students successfully transfer — 17.6 percent more students than the second highest ethnic group.

However, student athletes who are Asian earn a higher GPA than those Asian students who are only full-time students. Student athletes of all genders and ethnicities earn higher GPA’s than those students who are strictly full-time.

“There is a misnomer out there for a lot of the kids out there who think, ‘Oh, I’m going to be the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or whatever,’ playing basketball or football and when they start to see their dreams fall apart they got nothing to go back to. So that’s kind of where that begins, is teaching at a elementary, middle school then high school level, education, education, education, and so now there is some data to support that. There’s been a couple generations who have come through the community college level, so I think that was a big proponent,” said Perez.

Saddleback College Athletics also offers the Program Assisting Student-Athlete Success program which is based out of Saddleback’s Learning Resource Center. It provides students with free tutoring Monday through Friday.

Any students at Saddleback are able to use the LRC, it is not only limited to athletes or priority students. The LRC is open to students from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Monday – Thursday) and 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Friday). All students have to do is login on Mysite, the school’s class registration program, and enroll in tutoring programs.

Although student athletes at Saddleback are priority students who qualify for priority registration, they do not have priority over students for getting tutoring in the LRC.

“Simply looking at overall graduates who leave here with or without an actual degree, you can complete your degree requirements but not actually receive your degree here, you have that option as a student,” Perez said. “Whether they applied for and actually received the degree or whether they just completed the degree requirements at the community college level. It still applies, they’re still moving on they’re still transferring so that’s the data thats looked at, that’s recorded and then collected and provided to us.”

Saddleback College out of all other California Community Colleges ranks in the 10 percentile in transferring students to University of California and in the top 25 percentile transferring to California State Universities.

Saddleback has transferred students to 104 four-year universities after they met their transferable requirements. According to the student success scorecard, approximately 57 percent of Saddleback students successfully transfer.

“Education is the pathway to success, sports can be also but you need something to rely on to fall back on if sports don’t work,” Perez said.