May 8, 2014
By Jack Bogaczyk
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – It’s obvious somebody besides star quarterback Rakeem Cato is doing a lot of passing these days on the Marshall campus.
When MU holds commencement ceremonies Saturday downtown at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, 41 Thundering Herd student-athletes will be among the 1,039 receiving undergraduate degrees (among 1,528 total graduates).
Add the 18 athletes who graduated last December and another eight expected to complete coursework this August, that’s 67 athletes joining the alumni pool in 2013-14.
In two years, the number of student-athletes graduating is 132.
“I’d say 41 in this semester alone is a pretty good sized class for us,” said Tara Helton, director of the Buck Harless Student-Athlete Program that provides academic advising to the Herd. “We’ve typically averaged between 32 and 35 in the past, but we’ve been above that the last couple of years.
“I think it’s huge, because it shows how seriously our sports programs and our coaches take it – and most especially, our student-athletes. We have some graduating early in this group. Just for one example, (football tight end) Eric Frohnapfel is graduating in three years, and there are more like him.
“I think it really illustrates an above-and-beyond approach to their academics.”
A year ago, cornerback Monterius Lovett finished a second undergraduate degree. This year, basketball center Yous Mbao is doing the same.
“As with our tennis team getting special NCAA public recognition earlier this week for having a perfect APR (1000) for the fourth straight year, our graduating student-athletes show the kind of commitment to academics we want and need to have at our university,” Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said.
“It’s important to have success not only on the field, but in the classroom, too, because the role of a university is to develop people to go out into the world and have an opportunity to prosper. Our athletes are doing a great job, and they bring credit to our university for more than they do on the field.
“A lot of credit also should go to our coaches and the Buck Harless Student-Athlete Program staff for the commitment they devote to making sure our athletes use the opportunities that we have – and those opportunities will expand when we get into our new Academic Center in the coming months.”
Helton said the student-athlete graduation number is a testament “to the university. The success in this regard is a credit to our administration, faculty, coaches and athletic staff, our Buck Harless staff and the student-athletes themselves. We’re all in this together.”
Helton said she expects another strong indication of a commitment to academics by Herd athletic teams when the NCAA reveals all of the APR scores all Division I schools for 2012-13 next week.
“Our athletes take care of business in academics as well as on the field and on the court,” Helton said. “They expect a lot of themselves, and they live up to expectations.”
Helton is assisted by three academic advisors – Jillian Boys, AJ Hubbard and Ashley Parsons – in the Buck Harless program, which will be moving into new quarters in January when the 14,100-square foot Academic Center adjacent to the under-construction Indoor Athletic Facility is opened.
“That’s only going to help us,” Helton said. “What the Vision Campaign made possible is huge for us. It will be a bright, new facility that will encourage our student-athletes to come in there. It’s going to enhance greatly what we can do.”
The new Academic Center is scheduled to have more than 90 computer work stations. Currently, the Buck Harless Program operations are split between two sites -- in the Shewey Building (11 computers) and Guillickson Hall (15 computers).
“We’ve made it work, and the student-athletes are to be commended for helping make it work,” Helton said. “It’s been unorthodox to say the least, so we’re really anxious to move into the new Academic Center and keep building on the success we’ve had.”
The list of Marshall student-athletes earning undergraduate degrees in May 2014 (and a few expected after summer session in August):
Baseball – Ryan Hopkins, Kyle Kessler (August), Josh King
Men’s basketball – Yous Mbao (second degree)
Women’s basketball – Justine Boerger, Orlandria Williams (August)
Cross country – Jack Whitney
Football – Demetrius Evans (August), Blake Frohnapfel, Eric Frohnapfel, Dameon Garrett, Harold “Gator” Hoskins, Jordan Jeffries, Evan McKelvey (August), Darryl Roberts (August), Garrett Scott, Brandon Sparrow, Essray Taliaferro, Raheem Waiters (August)
Men’s golf – Brian Anania, Aaron Barna, Marshall Hone, Jeremy Rogers
Swimming and diving – Tiffany Aeling, Katie Kramer, Madison Lawhorn, Victoria Mesner, Heather Moore (August), Vera Niemeyer
Men’s soccer – Tyler Atwell, Travis Brent (August)
Women’s soccer – Morgan Cain, Kelsey Gault, Caroline Harwell, Elizabeth Lemons
Softball – Taylor Winton
Tennis – Kelsi Halbert, Kara Kucin, Karli Timko
Track and field – Elaine Derricott, Julia Galloway, Amanda Hottenstein, Vanessa Jules, Amanda Kennedy, Molly Miloscia, Kelley Mortakis, Jasia Richardson
Volleyball – Sacha Byous-McConnell, Laura Der
The list of Marshall student-athletes earning undergraduate degrees in December 2013:
Baseball – Nathan Gomez, Wayland Moore, Gray Stafford
Cross country – Adam Frohnapfel
Football – Justin Haig, Chris Jasperse, Grady Kerr, Monterius Lovett (second degree), Derek Mitchell, Trevor Mendelson, Gage Niemeyer, Devon Smith, Malcolm Strong, Jeremiah Taylor, Derrick Thomas
Men’s soccer – Zach Hunter, Cody Partyka
Swimming and diving – Emily Akalski
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