Ninety-four percent of Beaufort County’s middle and high school students maintained their academic eligibility to participate on 2013-14 fall and winter athletics teams under the district’s academic requirements. That’s up from 93 percent last year.
Of 771 middle school athletes during the first two quarters of the current academic year, 736 met the minimum 2.0 Grade Point Average requirement established by the Beaufort County Board of Education. Thirty-five students did not meet the requirement. The average athletic GPA districtwide for middle school students during the first two quarters of 2012-13 was 3.47, up from 3.05 last year.
Of 1,559 high school athletes in the district, 1,466 met the academic requirement during the first two academic quarters and 93 did not. The average athletic GPA district-wide for high school students was 3.51, an improvement over last year’s 3.45.
The highest-achieving middle school sports were football, volleyball and fall cheerleading, all with GPAs above 3.5. The lowest was wrestling at 2.91.
The highest-achieving high school sports were swimming, cross country, golf, volleyball and tennis, all with GPAs above 3.9. The lowest was wrestling at 2.94.
After a series of community forums in 2011, the Board of Education approved the 2.0 GPA requirement for athletes. Only one other South Carolina district (Richland District 1 in Columbia) has a similar requirement.
Chief Student Services Officer Gregory McCord said that the district’s middle and high schools have after-school tutorial programs to assist students who are in danger of falling below the 2.0 requirement. Interim reports, report card grades, teacher/sponsor recommendations and coaching staff requirements are used to identify students required to attend after-school programs.
McCord said that schools have paid special attention to communicating the new rules to student athletes and their parents. He also noted that the NCAA has raised the GPA requirement for college athletic eligibility to 2.3 starting with the graduating high school Class of 2016.
“The benefits of a solid high school education extend far beyond high school athletics,” McCord said. “The district’s policy makes academics the primary focus goal and helps to ensure that our athletes will be academically for college scholarships.”
A student who is ineligible at the end of a semester due to a GPA of less than 2.0 will remain ineligible during subsequent semesters until she or he meets district requirements. Even if an ineligible student raises the GPA above the 2.0 minimum, she or he must maintain the GPA requirement for the remainder of that semester and wait until the next full semester to participate.