Jan. 25, 2016
Junior guard TreShawn Wilford from the men’s basketball team is academically ineligible to play. As a result, freshman Elijah Ross was taken out of his redshirt year to play.
“It’s been an adjustment,” said head coach Jeff Culver. “We established our blueprint and identity at the beginning of the year. Now we’re having to adjust with the change of point guard again.”
The NCAA requires Division II student athletes to be enrolled in at least 12 credits a semester and keep a 2.0 GPA by their junior year. The UCCS athletic department requires student athletes to maintain a 2.0 GPA regardless of their year.
“To be competitive as a student athlete at UCCS, you need to be competitive in the classroom,” said senior associate athletic director Nate Gibson.
Since the loss of Wilford at the end of last semester, the team is 2-4 overall. Despite not playing for six games, Wilford remains the teams assist leader, steals leader and fourth highest scorer in points per game.
Culver said the overall goals for the season and team have not changed.
“We’re doing everything we’ve always done, it’s a system that we plug people into,” Culver explained.
But he added they have had to be more patient with this younger team, as the backcourt now includes one less upperclassman.
“We just fast forwarded the process of putting (Ross) at point guard,” Culver said. “Now Brandon (Malone) and Elijah get reps together and as they grow, we’ll grow.”
Junior guard Tim Hass explained that the learning curve in the RMAC is steep, but that everyone has stepped up to handle it.
“(Wilford) was one of our more prominent players and leaders, but his personal decisions don’t affect the daily effort and commitment put forth by the other members of this team,” Hass said.
“Grasping the reality of the situation has allowed us to move on and better visualize the long term expectations for this team.”
When student athlete GPAs reach 2.0 or lower, Alex Koehler, assistant athletic director for compliance, said he receives e-mail warnings from an early alert system so the athletic department can take steps to help the student.
“We get notifications if kids aren’t going to class or they are struggling, and then we talk to the coaches, they can talk to their athletes and ask what’s going on with a certain class,” Koehler said.
Coaches have the option to offer study groups to their athletes or the athletic department can create an academic plan for the student.
“I’ll look at their grades, notify the department who’s struggling and everyone will do more background research on the student,” Koehler said.
Gibson added that students who fall under a 2.0 GPA but are within the less stringent NCAA requirements have the option to appeal to the Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Committee.
The IAAC consists of faculty and staff members from UCCS not including any athletic employee, according to Gibson.
“They would go before IAAC and have to answer a set of questions and IAAC would make a decision about whether or not they can continue to compete,” Gibson said.
“If a student has a bad semester and has a good reason we can make that decision then whether or not they can continue to play or take a red shirt year,” he added.
When student athletes fall below UCCS and NCAA requirements, they are ineligible to play and cannot appeal to IAAC.
“It’s ultimately up to our athletic director, he decides if the student athlete should focus on academics solely or continue competing next semester, it just depends on the situation,” Koehler said.
“If they’re not going to class, there’s not much we can do for them.”
According to Gibson, UCCS’ athletic department reached 23 consecutive semesters having a cumulative 3.0 or higher GPA.
“We have department GPAs that have been as high as 3.4. Our goal is to always have a department GPA of 3.0 or better,” Gibson said.