The constant clash between academics and athletics begs the questions of which will conquer the other, which will be ranked as a top priority, and which will become superior?
For years, collegiate athletes and institutions as a whole have struggled to prioritize academics with athletics.
But at Keene State College the picture is clear cut.
“I always tell people three things. You have academics, your family, and athletics. If they aren’t in that order then there is probably an issue,” KSC Athletic Director John Ratliff said.
Keene State College currently leads the Little East Conference in academic standing and on March 9, 2012 received the President’s Cup. After winning the Commissioner’s Cup and President’s Cup in the same academic year, coaches and sports affiliates could not be any happier.
“We tell all of our recruits that you have to be happy with the school before you’re happy with the sports. I think winning these prestigious awards goes to show that our priorities are clear,” Ratliff said.
He went on to speak of how it has gradually been easier to recruit students for sports, simply for the fact that the academic side of things rests at such a high level.
“Parents always will ask questions about academics, because they understand what is most important, and being that Keene has over 40 majors, parents won’t fear that athletics would ever take over academics,” Women’s Head Soccer Coach Denise Lyons said.
Each coach has her or his own way of pushing across the message, that at the end of the day, the degree is most important.
“I personally think the best way to get the most out of the college, is to make sure students fit their professors,” Lyons said. “That’s why I have my upperclassmen sit down with the new freshmen. This way the students can get a feel of which classes will fit them better.”
The athletic director commented on KSC’s recruiting.
“We have to make our recruits know that the school has to be a good fit for them before the sport. The big picture is always what matters most. If an incoming freshman already has the mindset that school takes precedence over all, than they will be destined for success on and off the field.”
To win the President’s Cup is truly an honor.
“I think it’s a great tribute to our student athletes, but also to our coaches. It goes to show you where the priorities lay of our athletes as a community,” Ratliff said. He continued, “I think you have to be successful in both fields. We have less leniency with coaches who have poor students, rather than if they had a below average record. Let’s just say the coaches have been successful on both ends, which makes my job easier.”
Lyons said the award was important because it represents something about Keene State College athletes that the scoreboard just can’t.
“I think that winning the President’s Cup is a very big deal because our athletic performance speaks for itself, but now having academic recognition I think it makes us a stronger school,” Lyons said. KSC has unfortunately had bad luck with a jumper on the track team, as well as a basketball player who had to be removed from their teams due to grades. Even with this, athletic teams were able to finish with a 3.06 cumulative grade point average.
“When it comes down to it, I think discipline is what it takes to be good at both of these things. If you’re disciplined in school, which will carry over to the field, and vice versa,” Peter Thomas, head coach of the track and field team, said. He went on to say, “Some of my strongest and most committed athletes were also the best students in the classroom. It’s just the mentality of a winner. Once you have that, you will be constantly achieving.”
Luke Flood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org