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UH Hilo athletics program receives national academic award

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Date: Thursday, September 26, 2002
Contact: Kelly Leong, (808) 974-7606

For Immediate Release

Completing a college degree while participating in athletics is a monumental, if not difficult task. But the University of Hawai`i at Hilo's athletic program is proving that challenge can be met.

UH Hilo has displayed the uniqueness of its campus environment by receiving top honors in graduation rates for student-athletes from USA Today. The Vulcan athletes finished among the top two in three of the categories used to measure athletes' success in the classroom for the 1995 freshmen class. The Vulcans were first in graduation rate (100 percent) and in the difference between athletes and the overall student enrollment (plus 70 percent), and second in improvement from 1994 (57 percent increase).

"This award demonstrates our commitment to making sure our student-athletes achieve their educational goals, while competing in intercollegiate athletics," said Chancellor Rose Tseng. "Although athletics is an important component of this University, our student-athletes must always be students first."

Athletic Director Kathleen McNally added that it is a combination of factors that has given the University this distinguished honor. "A strong supportive faculty, a quiet and peaceful community as well as an environment that is conducive to learning, the living, learning laboratories that are unique to our University, and wonderful support services throughout the campus are the critical components needed to assist in a student's academic career," McNally said. "UH Hilo offers all of this, and more."

Besides classes and study halls, athletes face year-round training, daily practices, competition and travel. Lost class time can quickly add up. A contest on O`ahu, for instance, typically takes up a minimum of two class days, while a mainland trip requires four days of travel, not to mention the event.

"That alone speaks volumes about the type of student-athletes we have in our programs and the commitment they make to their education," McNally said. An important component of the graduation equation is the availability of additional academic assistance for student-athletes once they complete their eligibility. The existence of a strong fifth-year completion of degree program has also assisted the Vulcan athlete in completing his degree.

"We recognize the importance of an education and stand ready to help our student-athletes earn their college degrees," McNally said. "Our fifth-year program offers that assistance."

Fifth-year students not only benefit from the academic assistance, but they in turn assist the Athletic Department in various capacities. They remain an integral part of the office by serving on coaching staffs, helping out at events and working in various department offices. "A total team effort made this recognition possible," Tseng said. "This is a great example of student athletes, coaches and faculty working together as a team, and their combined efforts produced a national championship in the classroom."

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