What is the future of Tennessee State athletics? This is a loaded question that encompasses a variety of things, but for academics the goal is clear. The TSU athletic administration, along with the Associate Athletic Director Dr. Johnnie Smith, the goal set for student-athletes is to meet the 1,000-point benchmark in the near future and for years to come.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we can reach this goal every single year,” said Dr. Smith. “We have a great staff, great facilities, and a wonderful President and Athletic Director who are adamant about the academic success of our student-athletes.”
The 1,000 APR, or Academic Progress Rate, is the gold standard for student-athlete academics created by the NCAA. The APR is used to measure the eligibility and retention of athlete’s academics each term. With help from programs placed in the Athletic Academic Center this goal can be achieved.
One of the biggest resources available for the athletes is the new Academic Center facility located in Hankal Hall.
“Our offices used to be located in the basement of Kean Hall,” said Dr. Smith. “We were very cramped for space which made it difficult to work and to have a large number of students in at one time, but we always got the job done.”
The three-floor facility is home to a computer lab, specifically for student-athletes, and can accommodate up to 22 students at a time. Along with the computer lab, the Academic Center is also home to a tutoring center that allows students to receive help from tutors in multiple academic departments. The tutoring service ensures that every student-athlete can receive necessary help with his or her studies, regardless of the subject.
TSU athletics has also implemented various study hall programs, designed to let student-athletes work independently but still find help when needed. Freshmen are required to complete four hours a week in study hall and weekly mentoring meetings are held to keep all of the student-athletes on top of their work and commitments. These resources create a highly collaborative environment for teachers, students and staff to work together to achieve the 1,000-APR goal.
“We’ve seen some great improvement in the student-athletes work ethic and grades since last year. We had a wonderful fall of 2015 semester,” said Dr. Smith. “137 of our student-athletes made the honor roll, and the highest since then was 83. So we’re definitely seeing some major improvements here.”
Reaching 1,000 APR is not an easy task, but a dedicated TSU athletics staff focused on improving student-athletes classroom performance makes the goal more obtainable.
The Academic Center, located on the second floor of Hankal Hall, not only provides the services to help student’s maintain their grades, but also allows the students to learn life lessons teaches and understand the importance of being successful in the classroom as well as on the field.
“I am looking forward to seeing continued improvement in the athletic department,” said Dr. Smith. “The things the we do, the committed staff that we have, and the passion we have for helping and supporting the student-athletes academically are all key factors in the overall academic success of TSU athletics.”