As if the fall semester for Youngstown State University’s athletics program wasn’t successful enough, it became even better with an announcement earlier this month.
On Jan. 2, the department announced that a record 193 YSU student-athletes achieved a GPA above 3.00 during the fall semester.
As a group, the 339 student-athletes posted a GPA of 3.06. That mark is a department best for a fall semester and ties the record for all-time semester performance, which was established in the spring of 2011.
“Obviously, we’re very excited about the ability of our student-athletes to put forth tremendous effort in the classroom and receive the accolades they so deserve, while balancing the commitment and everything that comes with being a student-athlete,” said Elaine Jacobs, associate director of athletics.
The record-setting GPA numbers come in a semester in which the teams also took a step forward on the field. For instance, the football, volleyball and soccer teams all increased their win totals from the previous season.
“For them to make sure that they’re being the consummate student-athlete is quite satisfying for our department,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs oversees the academic and eligibility requirements for YSU student-athletes.
Marilyn O’Bruba, coordinator of athletic academic advising, and Marty Hyden, an athletic academic adviser, assist Jacobs’ efforts.
“I don’t know if anybody fully understands,” Jacobs said of the efforts put forth by the university’s student-athletes. “Until you’ve lived the life and are here early in the mornings, on the weekends [and in] the evenings and understand all the time that they’re putting in, you don’t necessarily get a perspective of how difficult it is for them to achieve what they have.”
With a 3.52 GPA, the women’s basketball team recorded the highest mark among all YSU teams. Second was the women’s cross-country team with a 3.43 GPA. Softball came in third, while soccer ranked fourth.
The men’s tennis team had a 3.32 GPA, the highest among all of YSU’s men’s programs.
“We addressed it,” said head women’s basketball coach Bob Boldon, now in his third season at YSU. “My first year, we were 17th in the country, and last year we were fifth.
They’ve bought into a lot of things that we’ve been doing, and that’s just another thing they’ve bought into.”
Of the 339 student-athletes, 27 earned a 4.00 GPA in the fall. Jacobs said it’s a “universitywide effort” that goes into accomplishing the impressive numbers.
“Our coaches have done a really sound job of recruiting student-athletes that want to be students, that actually are here to get a degree,” Jacobs said. “Then, with the appropriate support from the academic advisers, as well as additional support our coaches give, … we have success. And enough can’t be said for the professors that work with the student-athletes, having to adjust all what they do in the classroom to accommodate travel.”
Boldon said the record GPA numbers speak to the “discipline” of the university’s student-athletes.
“I think there’s a distinct carryover of being able to get up and go to class every morning and do your work in the classroom, to being able to come to practice every day with the mindset to get better and do your job on the floor,” he said.