Augustana’s student athletes are maintaining the school’s reputation for excellence. The school’s athletic program ranked eighth among Division II schools in the latest NCSA Power Poll.
This placement marks Augustana’s fourth consecutive top 10 finish in the poll, which calculates its rankings on the basis of both statistical standings (those of the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup and US News and World Report) and student athlete graduation rate.
During the 2012-2013 school year, Vikings’ athletic program achieved a 91 percent academic success rate and a 3.09 cumulative GPA. Within the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, 102 Augustana student athletes received All-Academic Awards.
“I’m very proud of our success,” Augustana associate athletic director Jeff Holm said. “When you compare us to the other athletically successful Division II schools, we are at the top of the heap.”
A 2008 survey conducted by the NCAA found that several student athletes committed upwards of 30 hours per week to both their sport and their classwork.
Junior running back Scott Stark said he’s had to make sacrifices in order to be successful in both.
“Athletics teaches you very good time management skills and how to discipline yourself both in the classroom and on the playing field,” Stark said.
Augustana students and administers agree the key to succeeding with such extensive commitments is time management.
“No matter what your discipline, whether it’s theater, choir, the arts, athletics, it’s all a matter of time management,” Holm said.
Sophomore T.J. Gleason, a member of the cross-country team, credits a coaching staff that understands the dual role student athletes are expected to fill.
“Our coaches care about academics as well as athletics,” Gleason said. “Being at a small college we are expected to have better grades and be more successful in the future.”
Wrestler Garret Heiberger also said his coaches have worked around his schedule, and his professors have been accommodating when it comes to making up labs or exams.
Stark said academics will always come before athletics if he has to make a choice.
“I put more time in academics than I do in athletics because my degree will have a way bigger impact on my future than college sports will,” Stark said.
A triple jumper on the Augustana track team, sophomore Kaylynn Erlandson cited the school’s high academic standards as an impetus for success both on and off the field.
“At Augie you earn your grades,” Erlandson said. “I think being forced to manage your time around classes and practice really improves your overall performance.”
Holm expresses a similar esteem for the role the classroom plays in athletic achievement. He specifies Augustana’s high educational standards as crucial to the school’s success in the realm of sports.
“Nothing is more important than the fantastic academic reputation Augustana has,” Holm said. “It allows us to recruit the kind of student athletes who can succeed under these conditions.”