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Herd Student-Athletes Finishing the Job in Academics


Aaron Dobson graduated in only three and a half years.

Aaron Dobson graduated in only three and a half years.

June 4, 2013

By Jack Bogaczyk

HERDZONE.COM COLUMNIST

HUNTINGTON – Cue up Frank Sinatra … For Marshall student-athletes, it’s been a very good year.

There have been Conference USA top honors and individual (and a softball team) championships and multiple NCAA appearances throughout 2012-13.

Well, the Thundering Herd has been doing much more than running, jumping, hitting, diving, stroking, blocking, tackling, shooting, catching, throwing, etc.

Another “-ing” at which the Herd has been busy is “studying.”

In the school year that will wrap with summer classes, Marshall will have 65 student-athletes who graduated. A total of 58 student-athletes received their undergraduate degrees last December or last month, and another seven are on track – with one or two classes or an internship to go – to graduate this summer.

“This isn’t anything new,” said Tara Helton, director of the Buck Harless Student-Athlete Program that provides academic assistance to the Herd. “What we’re proud of is the consistency and success year-to-year in the numbers.

“Most people obviously understand and see our student-athletes’ commitment on the field and the court, or on the track or in the pool, but their commitment there is equal to the commitment to get that degree.

“I think the success of our student-athletes in the classroom is a testament to our entire university, too. The administration, the faculty, our athletic staff and coaches, the Buck Harless Program and the student-athletes themselves all play a part in this. Like they say, ‘It takes a village.’”

Marshall’s overall student-athlete graduation rate, as measured by the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) has been at least 74 percent for each of the last seven reported years. The most recent number (75 percent) was for the entering class of 2005-06.

The percentage for those exiting in the 2012-13 school year won’t be measured for a couple years.

The GSR is based on a six-year graduation window for student-athletes, and was developed by the NCAA as part of its academic reform initiative to more accurately assess the academic success of student-athletes.

The GSR holds institutions accountable for transfer students, unlike the federal graduation rate. The GSR also accounts for midyear enrollees. Schools are not penalized for outgoing transfer students who leave in good academic standing. These outgoing transfers are passed to the receiving institution’s GSR cohort. By counting incoming transfer students and midyear enrollees, the GSR increases the total number of student-athletes tracked for graduation by more than 37 percent.

The Herd’s football GSR has been above 70 percent in each of the last eight years measured. It was been on the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Academic Achievement list for four straight years (2008-11) for having 75 percent or better in GSR. The Herd just missed the honor roll at 71 percent for the 2012 AFCA honor.

Marshall’s football program had 14 graduates this year, and a couple of rarities.

Wide receiver Aaron Dobson, a second-round NFL Draft pick by New England, graduated in only 3 1/2 years. Offensive guard John Bruhin, who was in school six years because he was granted a medical redshirt year by the NCAA, gained a third undergraduate degree. He has degrees in criminal justice, psychology and sociology.

“Dobson was an exception to the norm. You don’t often see anyone who didn’t redshirt graduate in 3 1/2 years,” Helton said.

Coach Doc Holliday’s 2013 team will have four members who already have earned their diplomas in cornerback Monterius Lovett, defensive linemen Alex Bazzie and James Rouse, and offensive guard Alex Schooler.

Men’s basketball has four players who gained their degrees in Dennis Tinnon, Rob Goff, Nigel Spikes and Yous Mbao, who returns in 2013-14. DeAndre Kane will make that five when he graduates this summer before heading to Iowa State to play a final collegiate season as a graduate transfer.

Helton, who is academic advisor to football in addition to running the Buck Harless Program, said there are no surprises on the Herd’s list of 2012-13 graduates.

“Everybody who should have graduated in the fall did,” she said. “Everybody who should have graduated in the spring did.

“They do what they need to do. They took care of business. They expect a lot of themselves in their sports, but they work hard and expect a lot of themselves on the academic side, too.

“They’ve lived up to expectations.”

Marshall student-athletes who graduated during the 2012-13 school year, or are on track to graduate this summer:

Baseball (6)

December -- Alfredo Brito; Jesse Fernandez; Thor Meeks

May -- Matt Hummel; Matt Kirkwood; Terrence Moore

Men’s Basketball (5)

May -- Robert Goff; Yous Mbao; Nigel Spikes; Dennis Tinnon

Summer -- DeAndre Kane

Women’s Basketball (2)

May -- Veronica Ruiz

Summer -- Suporia Dickens

Men’s Cross Country (3)

December -- Ryan Bowser; David Caldwell

May -- Peter Starnes

Football (14)

December -- Marquis Aiken; Devin Arrington; John Bruhin; C.J. Crawford; Aaron Dobson; Monterius Lovett; James Power; Martin Ward; Antavious Wilson

May -- James Allen; Alex Bazzie; Corey Tenney; James Rouse; Alex Schooler

Men’s Golf (2)

December – Carson Schambach

May – Lance West

Women’s Golf (1)

May – Maria Battaglia

Men’s Soccer (8)

December -- Aaron Dini; Peter Bulat; Devin Perkins

May -- Eddy Prugh; Tom Jackson; Mike McCabe; Cade Parton

Summer – Daniel Withrow

Women’s Soccer (7)

December -- Bella Bramwell; Paige Oschle; Megan Tabler

May -- Robin Waskowski; Lindsey Kerns; Erin Blakely

Summer -- Sarah Vinson

Softball (5)

May -- Ashley Gue; Jessica Ferrick

Summer -- Alysia Hively; BriAnna Hope; Jazmine Valle

Swimming & Diving (5)

May -- Sarah Coghlin; Lauren Rone; Arlie Rykosky; Sarah Schimenti; Maribeth Smith

Tennis (2)

May -- Maria Voscekova; Dominika Zaprazna

Track & Field (4)

December -- Elizabeth Barnhart; Rachel Coaxum

May -- Alecia Daniels; Leslie Thomas

Volleyball (2)

December -- Andrea Snipes-Booker; Cameron Yoho