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The Daily Call – Jan. 10, 2014

BY ANDRES FOCIL
The Daily Call – Jan. 10, 2014

Today’s Daily Call features a question and answer session with Eric Wood, Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete services, discussing the impressive improvement that was seen across the board in this fall’s athletic department GPAs.

Eric, can you share with us what your title is and what your department encompasses?
Well, I’m officially the Associate Athletic Director for student-athlete services, which includes academic services and student-athlete development. Our department consists of academic counselors, learning specialists and the student-athlete development staff. In total, we have a 28 person staff that is geared towards empowering individuals to grow as students, athletes and leaders.
Can you talk about the academic results from this fall?
Our 460 student-athletes recorded 3.17 GPA as a department, which is the highest fall GPA since Jeff Long arrived. Men’s basketball’s 3.0 is the highest in at least 10 years for a fall semester for that program and women’s basketball recorded 3.0 too, which, compared to last fall, is a marked improvement. We hired Ragean Hill as a Director of Academics for Football and they also recorded their highest fall GPA in her first year with us. Felecia Saine laid the foundation for men’s basketball and Justin Johnson took it to the next level. On the women’s side, Tamesha Greenlee did the groundwork that allowed Felecia to bring women’s basketball to another level. A total of 261, or 56 percent, of our student athletes were above 3.0, up from 241 this time last year and 45 of our students recorded perfect 4.0s. Fourteen of our 19 teams are above a 3.0 for the semester, with 10 of those programs improving upon last fall’s grades.
Basketball (M & W)
Cross Country (W)
Golf (M & W)
Gymnastics
Soccer
Softball
Swimming & Diving
Tennis (M &W)
Track (M & W)
Volleyball
What different academic programs and services does your department provide student-athletes?
We have an unbelievable tutoring program led by Lauren Hansen, with 120 trained tutors covering every subject offered on campus. We are averaging 160 tutor appointments a night in the Bogle Academic Center. Our learning specialists, under the direction of Christine Scheets, are developing individualized programs to assist student-athletes with skills they need to accommodate learning differences. They are pushing students to become independent learners while holding them accountable for taking ownership of their academic careers. All of our learning specialists are former teachers and are making a strong impact on the way our student-athletes approach their academic responsibilities.
What has been the most important component of the recipe for academic success?
The support from head coaches is huge. You can have a wonderful academic program in place with a lot of resources but if coaches aren’t on board then it is a difficult task. Every one of our head coaches has committed to ensuring that their teams are working to do their best academically. They are also working to recruit student-athletes who want to come to the University of Arkansas, not only to compete at a high level athletically, but to also pursue a college degree. Of course, it helps that we have student-athletes that work hard in the classroom and want to succeed all across the board. It is easy to do our job when the students are so dedicated to doing their’s.
You’re currently on target to meet your five-year academic plan sooner than anticipated. What has it taken to arrive here so quickly?
It started when Jeff Long shared a vision and set goals for our program on what our student-athletes could achieve academically. At the time, it certainly seemed like an ambitious goal, but it motivated everyone to push themselves to reach that goal. Now, coming off a very good fall semester, we are in position to meet that goal two full semesters earlier than anticipated. Our progress is reflective of the improvement we are making in a number of areas. It starts with coaches and recruiting the right student athletes. The coaches are recruiting the kind of students that have a desire to graduate and succeed. We are no longer trying to simply maintain eligibility, we are focused on graduation. The student-athletes desire to graduate coupled with the commitment of coaches and academic counselors has made a world of difference. We are graduating more student-athletes than ever, and have zero teams under the APR benchmark. Those student-athletes who are leaving early to pursue employment in their professional leagues are leaving eligible now. Our goal is, even if they leave prior to graduation, they are in position to graduate when they return to school.
@RazorbackTF begins 2014 season TODAY
The men’s and women’s track and field team will start the 2014 season with the Arkansas Invitational today at Randal Tyson Track Center. The men’s team is coming off a 2013 NCAA Indoor Championship Title, SEC Triple Crown and National Program of the Year Award. Arkansas returns 13 All-Americans, including defending NCAA individual champions Kevin Lazas (heptathlon) and Andrew Irwin (pole vault). The Razorback’s chase for another NCAA Title begins today, read the full release here.The women return this season after winning their fourth SEC Indoor title under Head Coach Lance Harter. Arkansas returns key All-Americans, providing a competitive edge with All-SEC returners in search of its second-straight conference title. Both teams are joined by members of this fall’s SEC and NCAA South Central Regional Championship cross country teams. For the full women’s preview, click here. Today’s meet at Randal Tyson Track Center begins at 11 a.m. with field events, following by running events slated for 1 p.m. For more information follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter. Live results can be followed here.

@RazorbackGYM Starts Run To NCAA Championships Tonight The #Gymbacks begin their 2014 campaign in Barnhill Arena tonight at 7 p.m. hosting Western Michigan and Bridgeport. For the full preview click here.

Final @RazorbackGYM Floor Music Reveal

Katherine Grable’s Floor Music:

mix of black skinhead and blood on the leaves – kayne west and Incredible by carnage and borge

Katherine’s Tumbling Passes:

1st pass: Round off + back handspring + 1/2 in-1/2 out

2nd pass: Tour jete + split full

3rd pass: Round off + 1 1/2 twist + front full + front barani step out

4th pass: Round off + back hand spring + double pike + switch ring leap

Katherine’s Thoughts On Her Music:

“I like the dramatic beats in my floor music this year,” senior Katherine Grable said. "My music helps me be really sharp during my routine, especially my dance sequences."

Too ambiguous? Know exactly what coverage we’re missing? Have a general question for the athletic department? Tell us. Shout at arkmr@uark.edu with suggestions of what you would like to see covered and what the column is missing. Interaction is good. Think of this as your portal to all things Arkansas.



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