Lander student-athletes' GPA on par with rest of state

By David Roberts

More than half of Lander’s student-athletes finished the 2016 fall semester with a grade-point average above 3.0, the board of trustees announced last week at a meeting.

Fifty-five percent of the student-athletes at Lander had at least a 3.0, which is close to the 3.01 average held by all student-athletes at the school.

“I think it shows how well the faculty and the student-athletes work together,” Lander athletic director Brian Reese said. “That’s a good number. Our goal each semester will be 65 percent. That’s where we want to be with student-athletes who have a 3.0 or better.”

With an enrollment of about 2,800, Lander is the state’s second-smallest publicly funded four-year university, yet its numbers are on par with other major institutions across the state.

Reese thinks small class sizes provide a more intimate learning environment, which in turn allows student-athletes to form personal relationships with professors.

“That’s how you get the relationships with the faculty going if the classes are smaller,” Reese said. “You always want to have that relationship with the faculty members. Normally, what you see is it’s a really great relationship that carries on for years down the road, even past their graduation date.”

Last fall, Lander had eight players land on the Peach Belt Conference all-academic team, which requires student-athletes to have at least a 3.30 GPA. In addition, student-athletes must appear in half the team’s games and must have already completed at least one full year at the school they are attending.

Women’s soccer led with four selections, and men’s soccer and volleyball each added two student-athletes.

“We’ve just got a great relationship with the faculty,” Reese said, “And it’s one of the neatest relationships I’ve seen in all the places I’ve been.”

Erskine, which has an enrollment of 575 students, had a cumulative student-athlete GPA of 2.95 for the 2013-14 school year, the most recent year available. According to the school’s website, the 2013-14 year was the best academic year for Erskine since joining Division II in 1992.

The University of South Carolina, which has more than 30,000 students than Lander, ended the 2016 fall semester with its student-athletes carrying a cumulative 3.24 GPA. The school has gone 20 consecutive semesters without its student-athletes’ cumulative GPA dipping below 3.0.

Clemson’s volleyball team logged a 3.35 GPA in the fall, which beat a 13-year school record 3.19 GPA that was also set by the volleyball team.

Contact staff writer David Roberts at 864-943-2530 or follow on Twitter @IJDavidRoberts