SIU swimming and diving coach Rick Walker said academics and athletics are one and the same, but actions speak louder than words as the Salukis raise the bar for academic success.
The Saluki swimming and diving programs were named All-American Scholars by the Swimming Coaches Association of America for a team cumulative grade point average of 3.2 in the fall of 2011, a point higher than the previous season’s GPA. The
award is given to any Division I team with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.
The men’s team posted a 3.25 GPA, an average tied with Alabama for the 15th-best GPA in the country, while the women’s team posted a 3.2 GPA.
Lisa Peden, director of Learning Support Services, said her organization offers student athletes the opportunity to not be left to their own devices when it comes to schoolwork.
All athletes with a GPA lower than a 3.0 are required to attend study table hours, and freshmen members of the swimming and diving teams are required to attend six hours per week of study tables in their first semester. These group study sessions link athletes together according to their majors and class schedules.
“When you’re a freshman, you have a lot of opportunities to get work done during study table hours,” freshman swimmer Caleb Coots said. “This sport has given me the discipline I need to stay on top things.”
Associate Athletic Director Kristina Therriault, who oversees Student Services and the Student Academic Affairs programs with student services and academics, said the athletic program spends a lot of time with freshmen.
“SIU athletics has around 60 tutors on staff, with courses required to freshmen on time management and organizational skills,” Therriault said.
These opportunities are not just offered to freshman athletes. Peden said all athletes have the opportunity to attend study sessions or to get help from tutors. These sessions are highly encouraged by the coaching staff, mandatory for all incoming freshmen and free for all athletes to take advantage of.
“When you play a sport, you’re forced to make time for things,” sophomore diver Brittany Weigel said. “Diving gives me structure.”