Student athletes leads SLC in graduation rates again

Nicholls State University’s student-athletes are ranked at the top of the 2015 Graduation Success Rates in the Southland Conference among Louisiana’s schools for the second consecutive year.

The GSR is designed to accurately predict the academic success of student-athletes though the measurement of the proportion of student-athletes who graduate, including incoming transfer students. According to the statistics released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Nicholls is ranked fourth among Louisiana’s 11 public schools that have Division I athletes, with an overall GSR of 73 percent. Louisiana State University ranks first with 84 percent, followed by Louisiana Tech (83) and Louisiana-Lafayette (80).

“Academics is really important to us,” Rob Bernardi, Nicholls athletic director, said. “I think we have stressed enough to the coaches and to the student-athletes that we want academically ambitious students who are good at their sports.”

The 2015 overall ranking statistics show that 73 percent of Nicholls’ student-athletes who started their undergraduate degree in 2008 have concluded their studies within 6 years.

“The graduation rates demonstrate that we are getting the kind of students we want,” Bernardi said. “They are here to compete in their sports, but are serious academic students as well.”

The GSR report ranks five of Nicholls teams at the top among Southland Conference schools, including volleyball, men’s tennis, baseball (76), football (71) and women’s cross country and track (68). Women’s volleyball, soccer, softball and men’s tennis, are the four athletic Colonels programs ranked third in the state, with 92, 91, 89 and 83 percentages consecutively.

The Colonels football team earned the second-highest score among the football teams in Southland for the second year straight. One of Nicholls football team’s highlights is the redshirt sophomore linebacker Geoffrey Hebert. Hebert has been a two-year starter for the Colonel defense and is going to be a senior in the classroom next spring.

“I always wanted to come to Nicholls, not just because of football but also because of the academic program,” Hebert said.

So far, Hebert has a 4.0 GPA as a double major in finance and accounting. He recently named to the 2015 Capital One Academic All-District VI Team. According to Hebert, the clue to achieving academic success as a student-athlete is to balance the dedication and effort put into academic life, as well as during the sports practices.

“Back in 2003, Nicholls’ GSR wasn’t really good, partially because Nicholls was an open enrolment institution,” Bernardi said. “Now, 15 years later, we are at the top of the GSR in our league and I am really proud of the Colonels ratings.”