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UMBC student-athletes study and meet with their advisers. Photo by Morgan Casey

UMBC student athletes set new departmental record for fall GPA

University of Maryland, Baltimore County Athletics posted its departmental GPA with pride on Jan. 30. For the second year in a row, UMBC’s student athletes broke their overall GPA record for the fall semester with UMBC’s 17 varsity athletic teams averaging a 3.19 GPA for fall 2019. This is 0.05 points higher than the cumulative GPA from fall of 2018. Out of over 400 total student athletes, 46 had a 4.0 semester GPA, 153 had a GPA of 3.5 or higher and 258 were at or above a 3.0.

The top three GPAs for the women’s teams were, on average, 0.24 points higher than that of the top three men’s teams. Women’s lacrosse had the highest team GPA of 3.47 with volleyball close behind with a 3.45 GPA and women’s cross country in third with their GPA of 3.41. The highest men’s team GPA was a tie between men’s swimming and diving and men’s lacrosse with 3.25. Men’s soccer had the third highest men’s team GPA of 3.10.

Out of the other America East universities that also set GPA records in the fall 2019 semester, UMBC ranks fourth. The highest record was set by the University of Hartford with a GPA of 3.39, followed by the student athletes at Binghamton University with a GPA of 3.29. University of Vermont’s student athletes had the third highest cumulative GPA of 3.23.

Despite lagging behind other universities in the conference, UMBC’s student athletes’ GPA is 0.89 points higher than the NCAA Division I GPA requirement.

New athletic director Brian Barrio credits the coaches as well as assistant athletic director and head of academic services Abbie Day and the academic staff for the Retrievers’ academic success.

Barrio told UMBC Athletics, “It takes a total team effort to post a semester like this, and all of #RetrieverNation should be proud to see these results.”

Men’s lacrosse head coach Ryan Moran also credited UMBC’s academic staff for ensuring his athletes were doing their best in the classroom. Specifically, Moran thanked his team’s academic advisor Talareah Campbell for helping his athletes reach their full academic potential. Moran explained that Campbell’s meetings with his student athletes are what ensures that they stay on track no matter their athletic schedule.

“Ms. T is one of the best in the business and has such passion and love for our student athletes,” Moran said.

While the hard work of the academic staff played a large role in UMBC student athletes’ GPA, academic advisor and Student Athlete Advisory Committee staff advisor Kristin Ferris says she and the staff can not take all the credit. Ferris knows that without the motivation from the student athletes themselves, she and the other academic advisors’ work would be in vain.

“What people might not realize is that we also see how hard they [student athletes] work even when they might not be working with us directly,” Ferris explained. “We see students in study hall when we come in at 8 in the morning, and students still working when we leave at 9 in the evening. We watch student athletes run right from study hall to practice to class and then do it all again.”

Men’s soccer head coach Pete Caringi Jr. explained that it only takes a few student athletes making the routine Ferris describes their normal for more of their teammates to do the same. To Caringi Jr., the greater the number of student athletes excelling in the classroom, the higher the standards the student athletes set for their entire team.

“They put pressure on one another and I think that’s the key,” Caringi Jr. stated.

This pressure, along with the support from coaches and the academic staff, helps remind student athletes that their primary purpose in attending UMBC to get an education. While their athletic successes may be a highlight of their college experience, the ultimate goal is to come away from their four years at UMBC with a degree that will propel them into their careers.

“In the end, it’s getting them [student athletes] to realize that academics are their future,” cross country’s head coach and track and field assistant coach Matthew Gittermann said. “They are paying quite a bit of money to fund that future, why waste both their time and money to not strive to be your best.

Editor’s Note: Morgan Casey is an athlete on the UMBC track and field team.