It’s Student-Athlete, not Athlete-Student

When it comes to the college recruiting process, one of the most common questions high school kids will ask me is, “Do grades really matter if I’m a good athlete?” And every time I get that question, I always answer with this: “There’s a reason you’re called a student-athlete, not an athlete-student.”

Listen, grades matter. Regardless of how good of an athlete you are, being a good student will always open more doors for you than sports ever will. Don’t believe me? Well, then take 5 minutes and read what these Division I coaches have to say about it. If you don’t think being a good student matters, go ahead and cross these programs off your college list!


Mike Fox, North Carolina Baseball: I think there’s a direct correlation between how a young man performs in the classroom and the kind of commitment or self-discipline he has. We need young men that are prepared for college work, and most of the time, the transcripts tell the other side of the story.


Paul Mainieri, Louisiana State Baseball: The commitment and dedication it takes to be a good student in high school translates very well at the collegiate level. If you were to ask most student-athletes if they enjoyed school, I would guess that most would say they probably don’t. They just know it’s something they have to do. So, if a young man makes a commitment to perform academically, then it shows he’s willing to make sacrifices and he carries the work ethic required to be successful at this level.


Chris Petersen, Washington Football: The reality is that college is going to be tougher than high school. To be successful at Washington, you need to be a good student when you get here. Or at the very least, show that you’re trending up and making progress in the classroom. Pac 12 football is tough. Being a student at Washington is just as tough. If you’re not qualified and motivated, you won’t fit in well here.


Tim Murphy, Harvard Football: The first thing that we pay attention to are academics. How are his grades and what type of a student is he? We could be dealing with the greatest athlete in the world, but if he isn’t a strong academic kid, then we’re just spinning our wheels and wasting our time. At Harvard, the first box we have to check is great student. If we can’t check that box, we aren’t recruiting you.


Suzie Fritz, Kansas State Volleyball: In my opinion, academic success in high school usually leads to a smoother transition at the collegiate level. In many ways, students with a track record of academic success are less maintenance. As a coaching staff, we aren’t worried about “if” that student is going to class or “if” they care about school. It shows a more balanced lifestyle where volleyball is only part of the equation.


John Cook, Nebraska Volleyball: Good students are disciplined, they do their homework and usually have great time-management skills. If they’re making great decisions all week long in the classroom, they’re probably going to make great decisions in a match when it matters most.