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Golden Hawks winners in the classroom

WATERLOO, Ont. (January 30, 2012) - An analysis of three decades of research on Laurier student-athletes' academic performance has revealed a significant improvement over time. The study, conducted by professor William McTeer, shows that student-athletes in the 2000's are on average doing as well or better academically than other students. 

"Laurier invests extensively in the academic success of our student-athletes, and we insist that they take their studies seriously," said David McMurray, the universitys vice-president, Student Affairs. "But it wasn't until Bill compiled this material that we realized the full extent of how well our student-athletes are doing academically, while continuing to excel in intercollegiate competition. I'm proud of them."

The results show that in the 1980's, 87.8 per cent of Laurier student-athletes graduated from their programs. Today, 94 per cent of student-athletes graduate compared to 86.7 per cent of non-athletes. Laurier student-athletes average grades on a 12-point scale also increased from 6.76 in the 1980's to 7.48 today. The average grade at Laurier today for non-athletes is 7.44. A further indication of academic quality is that the current admission average of student-athletes is 81.5 per cent compared to an overall non-athlete admission average of 81.4 per cent.

Laurier officials attribute the improvements in part to the universitys holistic approach to student-athlete success. The university places a strong emphasis on academic performance when recruiting athletes. It encourages athlete success in the classroom through academic mentorship programs and referrals to specialist tutors. And students must maintain a passing average in their academic coursework to continue to play their sports. 

"We are focusing on developing the whole student-athlete academically, athletically and personally," said PETER BAXTER, the university's director of Athletics & Recreation. "Sport itself can teach a number of skills, such as leadership, hard work and cooperation, but its not the whole picture. The degree is central."

McTeer, a professor in the department of Kinesiology & Physical Education, began collecting the data in the early 1980's, compiled a second set in the 1990's, and recently completed a third set for the 2000's. He says the average student-athlete invests about 20 hours per week in his or her sport. "We seem to have a healthy balance here between academics and athletics," he said.

The universitys student-athletes have received significant recognition. Between 2000 and 2012, the Laurier Golden Hawks won 35 championships, including eight national championships. Between 2000 and 2010, 248 Laurier athletes earned CIS Academic All-Canadian honours. Football's Dillon Heap was named a CIS Top 8 Academic All-Canadian in 2009-10. 

"The university is continuing to hone its approach to nurturing student-athletes academic performance, and McTeer is curious to know the impact of new measures. "If I'm here in another ten years, Ill certainly be taking a look," he said. 

- courtesy of Wilfrid Laurier Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing 

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