Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A few more thoughts

Reading the Dave Newhouse-written article on Tim Pierce that we sent out to you earlier and Tim's projected summer graduation date with a degree in sociology got us to thinking.

This will be a tremendous accomplishment on Tim's part, one that will rightly make his family and friends extremely proud. It's an obvious and dramatic outgrowth of his personal maturation as the article indicated. The hard work Tim has and is putting in plus the encouragement and help his family and friends have provided should be front and center in any campaign about what can be accomplished through diligence.

There is another element to all this that we also wish to highlight -- a factor still all too often missing in college athletics and one that deserves much greater exposure.

That is, San Jose State athletics takes academics seriously -- an emphasis absolutely worthy of our appreciation.

It's sad to say but this wasn't always true.

But Tom Bowen's arrival brought the implementation of change -- for the better. Graduating student-athletes is now the norm, the expected at SJSU, not the aberration.

We also offer praise to Assistant AD for Academic Services Eileen Daley and her staff for their efforts in assisting Spartan student-athletes.

There unfortunately remains coaches throughout the country who offer the correct bromides in public but then either provide no followup or just don't care what happens to the charges in their care as long as performance on the field, on the court, on the diamond and so on is taking place.

Not here.

There is commitment AND followthrough at San Jose State.

We know from experience that this isn't prime material for message boards. The only time academics-related posts appear on such entities is when there is failing and the threat of or the actuality of scholarship reductions loom. THEN it's topic one. But that's because a satisfactory win-loss record is in danger.

This is because the majority of fans of college athletics across the country don't care -- and this is not a shot at those of you who do. We are not playing to the crowd here but most of the Spartan fans we interact with would not accept a winning program in any sport at San Jose State if it meant lousy academics -- an abusing and discarding of young men and women upon completion of eligibility and the bringing in of new "bodies" if you will.

Closer to 'home' so to speak, accolades deservedly go to Coach George Nessman and his assistants, Donald Williams, Brent Davis, Gary Stepan and Tim Marrion for their respective efforts, attention and emphasis towards academics.

The APR (Academic Progress Rate) rate for men's basketball this fall was 1000. The historical four-year average is now over 900 (901) which removes SJSU from the APR historical penalty segment. The period of time measured covers the first three years of the tenure of Coach Nessman and his staff and the last year of the previous coaching regime. With the coming spring release of numbers by the NCAA, the anticipation is that the Spartan men's basketball APR will be even higher as the measurement time will solely be the period of Coach Nessman and his staff and the 'contributions' of the past will finally be null and void.

Let's see how many -- if any -- message board posts cover this news when those results are published in the spring. Hint: we're not going to run out and purchase a fancy calculator in order to tabulate the results.

In winding this up, to have Tim Pierce be able to return to his home as a college graduate and be ready and able to contribute to his community is a Final Four moment to us. We offer an early congratulations to Tim and to everyone who contributed to his evolution.

There's a tendency to forget that college athletics is not all about us. We offer a hearty thanks to everyone involved for finally making the the college experience for San Jose State student-athletes what it should be and what it should have been all along.

It is most welcome.

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