Grade check to help student athletes succeed

Robert Mullen, Sports Editor

Bakersfield College athletics is in the testing phase of a new grade check program designed to help student athletes.

Helmed by Interim Athletics Director Sandi Taylor, the program is undergoing a trial with both the Track and Field and Swim teams during their 2014 seasons.

Taylor says the intent of the program is to catch students before they get to a point where they are faced with being dropped from their particular athletic program.

Currently, if a student athlete is found to have less than a C in a class, a recommendation is made to them that they have tutoring, but the tutoring is not required.

“Most of [the coaches] do it anyway, but this is more of a concentrated effort to make sure that everyone of [the coaches] and Victor, our academic advisor, get involved in picking out the [athletes] who are struggling,” said Taylor.

Taylor said that the Swimming and Track and Field programs were picked for the pilot because of the sizable pool of athletes and equal access to both male and female students.

“They’re both genders and have similarities, same training, same schedule, that sort of the thing. But it was the coaches that volunteered to be involved in it,” she said.

While the program is still young, Taylor said that they’ve already seen some successes.

“The first round, Victor said it didn’t look too bad, and so we just talked to the ones that were struggling and tried to give them encouragement to get into tutoring, and getting them into all the services available on campus.”

Taylor says that there hasn’t really been reactions from BC coaching staff because the athletics department hasn’t announced much about the program other than that they’re giving it a trial run. Reactions from the faculty, however, has been positive.

“That’s because part of [the program] is about communicating with the faculty, letting them know, ‘here’s what we’re planning to do’, and following through on our part so that we’re a team working together for the success of the students,” she said.

A key part of this program is not just about keeping athletes from being knocked out of sports for grades, but also keeping them on track for transfer into a higher level school later on.

At the end of the semester, the athletics department will present the results from then pilot and decide as a department if the program is something they wish to implement, as well as deciding if tutoring will be mandatory, and other factors.

“We’ll evaluate where we are with it, what worked and what didn’t work, and see if we can’t do something to make it available for all the students,” said Taylor.