Nashville, Tenn. According to the federal graduation rates for scholarship student-athletes, Tennessee State University recently finished with a high of 85 percent. At TSU, athleticism and academic achievement is a great combination.
One student-athlete who has played a part in TSU Athletics’ academic success is Charles Sparkman. Sparkman is a sophomore offensive lineman on the Tiger football team and he currently carries a 3.92 cumulative grade point average. The average includes a two-semester streak of a 4.0 GPA. Since attending TSU, he has been named to the President’s List, Dean’s List and the Athletic Director's List.
Sparkman is a communications major on schedule to graduate in May 2012. In his first academic year (2007-08), Sparkman received the Ohio Valley Conference Medal of Honor. The OVC Medal of Honor is given annually to the student-athlete(s) who achieve the highest GPA in a Conference-sponsored sport.
A native of Nashville, Tenn., Sparkman attributes his equal dedication to academics and extra-curricular activities to his parents.
“They raised me to do my best in everything that I do and not allow excuses to hold me back,” explained Sparkman. “I’ll do whatever it takes to be successful on and off the field, because no coach, or teacher, wants to hear why I didn’t get the job done. They just want it done.”
Before his first semester at TSU, Sparkman attended the Real Sports Academy and strongly believes that it prepared him for the rigors of a student-athlete.
“It’s a summer college-prep program for student-athletes. I attended the program during high school and it showed me first-hand what it would take to be a successful student-athlete,” said Sparkman. “I took in all the information I was given and I apply it every day.”
On the field, Sparkman is a reserve lineman but is the designated H-back in the Tigers’ red-zone jumbo package during scoring situations. The Tigers have scored 36 times in 41 attempts (88 percent) which include 25 touchdowns when in scoring position.
“He has a positive attitude and he is a great person. He is successful on and off the field. He is always in place and works hard at any position,” said Head Coach James Webster. “He does a great job going low and we have positive results when he is on the field.”
After graduation, Sparkman plans on going into television as a producer or sports reporter.