GPA, not PPG wins more aid

By Jean Dobrzynski

Most students believe the number of touchdowns they score or home runs they hit gives them a better shot at a free ride to college.

But they’re wrong. At least in DeKalb.

NIU statistics show more academic scholarships are awarded than athletic scholarships.

However, a National Research Center for College and University Admissions survey shows high school students think athletic scholarships are more prevalent than academic ones.

Cheryl Schaffer, financial aid assistant director, said NIU gives as much money for academic scholarships as athletic scholarships.

“But, when we include outside donors, the proportion of those is one athletic scholarship to every four private and NIU funded (academic) scholarships.”

Schaffer said statistically at NIU there is definitely more financial aid given to students for their academic achievement than there is for their athletic abilities.

Francis Miller, University Honors Program director, said he had not seen the survey, but was surprised to hear high school students feel that way.

“I know a lot of youngsters who play sports in high school and who are not interested in carrying it on into college,” Miller said.

He said he feels too much emphasis is placed on athletics at many institutions. “Athletics is overemphasized by far too many people, which is partly the press, partly the public and partly university administration,” Miller said.

Cary Groth, senior associate athletic director, said she does not feel athletics at NIU is overemphasized, because the number one priority at NIU is academics.

Groth said high school students who have fallen behind in their school work and who have athletic ability probably see an athletic scholarship as their only hope.

But she said, “If they do not have the grades to go along with their athletic ability, they will not be receiving any financial aid.”

“Academics comes before athletics at NIU. We don’t just recruit people with exceptional athletic ability, they must be an all-around good student athlete,” Groth said. “Fortunately, we find a lot of those kids. About 25 percent of our student athletes have a 3.0 GPA or better,” she said.

Two NIU coaches also rank academics before athletics.

Head football coach Jerry Pettibone said he is glad more academic scholarships are awarded each year than athletic scholarships.

“That’s the way it ought to be. We talk to our players as students first,” Pettibone said.

As far as overemphasizing sports, he said it can never be emphasized enough because there are so many things a student can learn on the field and not in the classroom.

“Working as a team, overcoming injuries and learning to be unselfish are all good things sports promote,” Pettibone said.

Head soccer coach Willy Roy said he feels there is room for everything in a student’s life if he knows how to handle himself.

“If the kids can handle it, whether it is golf, swimming or soccer, and they are smart enough and good enough on the field, then they should do it,” Roy said.

“A good mind and a good body go together,” he said.