Athlete grade changes no longer allowed after report cards issued

Benjamin Gyman, Opinion Editor

Social science teacher Jason Johnson didn’t plan to be athletic director this time last year but now that he has accepted the job, he is enthusiastic to make changes to Bear Creek’s athletic policies.

Johnson has been the head coach of the cross country team for 10 years and was the head coach of the track and field team for 12 years, leaving the post at the end of the 2016 season to spend more time with his family. He said he accepted this position because he wanted to be close to what he loves to do — helping out with the student-athletes — while not losing time with his family.

In his first season as athletic director, Johnson has already taken a firm stand on an issue faced by both teachers and the athletic departments: grade changes. Beginning this school year, the athletic department will no longer accept grade changes after the reporting period. This means that after report cards come out, a student’s GPA is final as far as the athletic department is concerned.

To participate in athletics, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher, have no more than one F, and remain eligible for graduation. All of these criteria are checked by the athletic department every quarter and those that don’t meet all the requirements are not allowed to continue playing the sport.

In years past, after athletes failed to achieve a 2.0 or obtained multiple F’s, some would go to their teachers and beg to have their grade raised in exchange for doing extra credit or by making up work they should have already completed. This situation puts the teachers in an uncomfortable position in which a student’s ability to participate in sports rested on their shoulders.

“My students should take advantage of the opportunities I give them to raise their grade the first time around,” social science teacher Johnathon Clemons said. “I shouldn’t have to feel responsible after the fact.”

The policy change remedies this problem as well as helps the students.

“In part, it’s an effort to create an atmosphere of accountability and responsibility,” Johnson said. “I think it will be a positive change and I know some students will not be happy about it, but as the years go by, this change will… help our student-athletes continue to grow and prioritize their curricular and extracurricular activities.”

Johnson hopes that this new policy will convince more students to focus on their grades during the quarter and not be completely dependent on their teachers to save them retroactively.

Varsity Football Coach Reggie Camp wholeheartedly agrees that this policy change will help make sure students are responsible for their own education.

“School is the most important thing; everything else is secondary,” Camp said.

The football team has study centers and tutorial on campus to ensure that their student-athletes address any educational needs that they may have so they can stay on top of their school work.

“We’re always encouraging the student-athletes… [on the] importance of doing their work, turning it in a timely fashion, taking advantage of resources here,” Camp said. “It’s just another way of holding them accountable and emphasizing why they’re here; it is school first.”

Although there is no doubt in Johnson’s or Camp’s minds that the policy will help make students more responsible, many students are already being held accountable for their grades by their parents.

Sophomore student-athlete Peter Brogger already knows the consequences if his grades ever begin to slip.

“My parents stress school more so than sports and will pull me out of them if my grades ever drop too low,” Brogger said.

Brogger is also uncertain how much the policy will actually help the student-athletes that profited before this change.

“If students don’t care enough to keep their grades up in the first place then I don’t think it will change much,” Brogger said.