Get Those Grades Up: Why Academics Support Your Athletic Profile| Written by Shana D.


Today’s market of student athletes is more dynamic than ever. There is no doubt that athleticism is accelerated and improved each generation. Three-time NBA Champion, Lebron James, was quoted as saying, that at age 12 his son shoots and handles the ball better than Lebron did at age 12. With athleticism at an all-time high, both athletes and colleges rate academics amongst the highest considerations in matching the student athlete with a college team. For the student athlete, academics open the door to scholarship money and contributes to future financial security. For colleges, the commitment in the classroom resonates on the field, court or turf.

College Considerations

The NCAA imposes GPA eligibility requirements for Division I and II athletics. To play Division I athletics an athlete must carry a minimum 2.3 GPA in the core courses. To play Division II athletics, an athlete must carry a minimum 2.0 GPA in the core courses. The NCAA also imposes SAT/ACT requirements based upon the student’s GPA. NAIA schools also require freshman athletes have an overall 2.0 GPA and rank in the top half of their class. These are the minimal requirements. With competition steep, an athlete must be prepared to exceed the minimal requirements.


Aside from league requirements, Universities and Colleges consider GPA as a factor in determining which athletes they will offer a scholarship. Many college coaches view commitment off the field as an asset to performance on the field. A well-rounded athlete invested in his or her future is an asset to the school’s financial investment in the athlete’s education. Schools want to see that athletes can perform the school’s primary purpose of educating.


Earn Your Future

In 2013 Division I and II athletic programs awarded $3 billion in athletic scholarships, but not all the awarded scholarships amounted to full college tuition. Although athletic scholarships are a great opportunity to excel to the next level of play and offer great financial benefits, many students will find that an athletic scholarship will not cover the full cost of a Bachelor’s degree. A student-athlete with a high GPA may also earn an academic scholarship to bridge the gap between the athletic scholarship and full tuition costs.


Regardless of whether the athletic scholarship is full or partial, not all athletes will continue to participate after their first year of college. Some athletes will decide to no longer play, some will be temporary or permanently sidelined due to injury, others will not meet academic qualifications and for an infinite number of other reasons. Academic scholarships can act as ‘back-up’ plan for tuition costs in these events.


Amongst the athletes that continue to play after their freshman year, a fraction will become professional athletes or earn a living as an athlete. For many athletes, their academic careers will become their primary plan and future earning potential. Graduating from a college with a reputable program in the student’s area of study may increase the student’s future earning potential. To be accepted to these reputable programs, a student athlete will require a competitive GPA.


Academics are a necessary component for an athlete searching for an athletic scholarship. Schools want to see strong academics when considering if they should offer a scholarship and students want options and stability in their college careers. Ultimately, a competitive GPA will advantage the athlete’s future in sports and their education and will advantage the school’s investment in the student athlete.

  1. Fedor, Chris. (2017 March 06). Lebron James, Jr., 12-year-old basketball prodigy, passes like his dad. [Sports blog]. Retrieved from
  2. NCAA (2017 April 4). Play Division I sports. Retrieved from
  3. Holland, Kelly and Schoen John W. (2014 October 13). Think athletic scholarship are the ‘holy grail’? Think again [news blog]. Retrieved from
  4. NAIA (2017 April 4). Play NAIA. Retrieved from