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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tait

KU football’s GPA jump a ‘big stinkin’ deal’

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Kansas University associate athletic director for student support Paul Buskirk has been employed by the department since 1987.

During that time, the veteran academic has seen a lot, done even more and worked with all varieties of coaches and student-athletes.

But he has never seen anything like KU football coach Charlie Weis.

Monday, KU announced that the football team had improved collectively by half a letter grade, soaring from a team grade-point average of 2.46 during the fall semester to a 3.0 this spring. Not only was the squad’s 3.0 the highest in program history, it also was a direct reflection of Weis, a no-nonsense leader who believes there’s a right way to do things and accepts nothing less.

“This is one of the most incredible jumps in academic performance from a team that I’ve ever seen,” Buskirk said. “This is not just over five players or 10 players or 20 players. This is over 70 or 80. That’s a huge, huge jump in performance, and I don’t want to undersell it at all.”

It’s easy for KU administrators and academic officials to bang the drum for their achievements in the classroom, no matter how big or small. Their jobs depend on the A’s and B’s outweighing the C’s and D’s. But that’s not what this is. Buskirk is nearing the completion of his third decade of service to KU because he’s honest and genuine. Rarely does he paint rosy pictures when they’re not there, and he works for no one but the student-athletes. That’s why Monday was like one of those days back in grade school when it was someone’s birthday and everyone in the class got cake.

Buskirk insists there was neither chocolate frosting nor edible flowers in his department on Monday, only satisfied grins coming from all corners. Specifically, Buskirk highlighted co-counselors Glenn Quick and Shanda Hayden, tutoring director Michelle Martin, and graduate assistant Dan Franco.

But their efforts may have gone wasted had it not been for the strong message handed down from the top. On the day he was introduced back in December, Weis emphasized the importance of academic success.

“I remember that because he caught me off guard,” Buskirk said. “I sat in the back and he made a reference to hiring a brand-new liaison for academics. I froze in my tracks at that moment because I hadn’t heard about any other hire. He went on, of course, to point out that he was the academic liaison. I have never worked with a football coach who has taken on the primary responsibility for academic liaison and concern. Ever. But that’s what coach Weis has done. Amazing stuff.”

The way Buskirk tells it is simple to understand. This latest improvement is not the stuff of miracles. It came as the result of a concentrated effort by coaching staff, athletic department and student body believing that the sound of a choir that sings together is much sweeter than discordant voices.

“If you don’t tell them it’s a big stinkin’ deal, they don’t know it,” Buskirk said. “But when we tell them that and then they get a 3.0, they go, ‘Whoa; I got a 3.0. That’s a big stinkin’ deal.’ And they’re proud of something they never thought they could accomplish. Once they’ve tasted it, they want to do it again.

“Coach Weis is gonna keep moving on,” Buskirk continued. “And I guarantee if you ask him, he would say, ‘This is what we should have been doing all along.’ I love it. I love every bit of it.”

Comments

John Randall 1 year, 10 months ago

It is a great thing to know about yourself – that you can things that aren't easy.

This knowledge can come on the field, in the weight room, or in the classroom.

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TulsaJayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

This is the single most positive indicator for our football program.

The fact that the team has bought in to academics will reap volumes on the field through the mental intangibles that maintain confidence.

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Randy Bombardier 1 year, 10 months ago

Great story. Great accomplishment. I believe CW's philosophy is sound. I thought that TG's philosophy was the same, namely that sloppiness and half-hearted effort off the field leads to the same on the field. So, maybe it is more than philosophy. CW has seems to be making it a way of life, leading to real character.

Now gents, I love coming on this site and seeing the articles and what you all have to say. I want to encourage you all to refrain from insulting each other with the name-calling especially. Let's keep it classy and just share thoughts, give kudos, and beg to differ, okay? We never know who we are insulting. Suppose it could be one of our own players.

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HawkWatcher 1 year, 10 months ago

This is absolutely fantastic. I love Weis' approach. He is taking care of as many intangibles as possible before the start of the season. Allowing those who don't want to buy into this new system of (as lighthawk said) accountability. We've already seen a number of players leave because of this, and those that stay are more fired up than ever, obviously it shows.

However he also has the know-how to see the benefits of improving in the classroom. The brain is a muscle, and these guys are going to be just that much smarter on every play, picking up that crucial block or reacting to a thrown ball that much quicker. Not to mention any press is good press.

Nothing but good news so far this summer. Even if you believe this to be a worthless achievement, it sure as hell is NOT a step backwards. Keep it up team, and I hope to hear more good news!

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Steve Brown 1 year, 10 months ago

If you can't got to class on time, turn in the work, how can you be expected to make that block or catch that pass. It is all tied together. age of accountibility. love it. University of Kansas Football, it's a new day dawning.

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JayHok 1 year, 10 months ago

Speaking of grades I dont understand how it all works with college athletics but I know Weis is doing great. How was John Calipari's first UK team allowed to keep their 35 victories after their 1.83 GPA came out. How does he keep a perfect APR without penalties? One can deduce that much classroom time is being spent with Calipari and his coaches in the gym working to become professionals after a few months. Who knows if his players go to school 2nd semester. Smells fishy.

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tom123kufan 1 year, 10 months ago

......and also who cares if you have higher standards for a guy getting a free education. What do you want a perfect 4.0 to be eligible to play sports? Your ridiculous.

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tom123kufan 1 year, 10 months ago

They are getting a free education because they play a sport. They play a sport to win. If they win revenue flows into the athletic department. As long as they are improving and eligible who cares? It's not our place to judge them because their on scholarship unless they are ineligible. At that point they are wasting there scholarship. These arguments don't make any sense to me. Don't be harsh just because they are on scholarship and well within the grade point level to maintain that agreement. Don't classify all football players as bad students either. It's our athletes who pump millions of dollars into the system to help pad the seat you sit in.

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KGphoto 1 year, 10 months ago

I can totally see Weis in his office with Darrian Miller and the others, a la Dean Wormer.

All he really had to do is get rid of these 5 guys and boom! Through the roof.

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ukanjhox 1 year, 10 months ago

Sorry everyone, I've got higher standards for guys getting a free education. Without a guy like Weis in their face, they can't manage to get decent grades. This isn't specific to KU, so I'm not bagging on our team specifically. It's like this at every school in the country.

Weis is the man for bringing these guys' grades us so rapidly. I just hope it doesn't stop here. My views on this have been shaped largely by the classes I've taken with the football players. Webb, Pick, Hatch, Sands, Harris, Omigie. Take a class with football players and see how much effort they show. I hope Weis continues to ride these guys and make sure they do their best. Sounds like he will.

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tom123kufan 1 year, 10 months ago

I was late getting on the site today and just got around to reading some of these posts. I had to stop after 5...This is getting a little bit ridiculous people. The story is about an improvement. Leave it at that, why must we dissect every story to the point it becomes a negative. Any good news regarding the football team should be welcomed with open arms. Give the group credit, not one game has been played yet and we already see iron clad improvement in the organization. Hopefully we will see it on the field as well. Lets get off our high horse for a minute and just enjoy a good positive read. Give me a break.

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rob4lb 1 year, 10 months ago

Aside from the ranting about how good a 3.0 GPA is, what sticks me most is how neglegent Turner Gill's staff was in this department. I was on the fence about firing him, thinking he needed at least one more year, but the more I read about the state of the football program, I am 100% convinced that Zenger made the right decision to make a change. Charlie Weis appears to be doing all the right things to change the culture. I hope it carries over to performance on the field.

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Keith Hummel 1 year, 10 months ago

And if you think this is a fluke, or that Weis doesn't really care about the GPA long-term, consider the following:

http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/061308aaa.html

As the article states, "Weis' first team in 2005 surpassed the 3.0 mark for the first time ever with a 3.044 combined GPA in the fall semester of '05". They went on to have six straight semesters of GPA's above 3.0.

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texashawk10 1 year, 10 months ago

This is a big deal, but something I would be curious to know is what the immediate impact on the GPA was after Weis got here and all the players left, voluntarily or otherwise. I would imagine if you take the team GPA from last semester minus those players who left the program, it would be quite a bit higher and that the half letter grade increase for this semester might not quite as big a jump as it initially appears to be. Again, this is absolutely a great accomplishment for this team, but I just wonder what the immediate boost to the team GPA was after dropping the dead weight and what the in class improvement in GPA really was.

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KjayhawkprideU 1 year, 10 months ago

I would like to add one more thing to Ukanjhox post, a 3.0 truly does look good on a resume especially if they graduated. My sister inlaw graduated with a 4.0 and I with a 3.0 make about 40k a year more than she does. My brother 3.75 and I also make more then him. I am proud of these kids for doing this. They are changing the foundation of the football program and that is something to be truly proud of. ROCK CHALK!!!!

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Bill Kackley 1 year, 10 months ago

I have no doubt that 3.0 ave. by the football team is higher than the GPA of the student body as a whole. If not, grade inflation has really come to KU. A grade of C is supposed to be an average grade, a B above average.

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Dirk Medema 1 year, 10 months ago

These are the same players as a semester ago, and the result of a coach holding the players accountable for doing what is right. Those are also the same coaches that are on the field holding the players accountable for doing what is right. What's the half point GPA equivalent in W's? 3 games? (BU, ISU, TT?) Pinstripe? COTY?

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Keith Hummel 1 year, 10 months ago

It's disturbing how certain folks can only find negatives in an overwhelmingly positive story. This is a huge accomplishment! And it was done in Weis' first semester!

To put it in perspective, consider Nebraska, a school that has historically prided itself on the academic achievements of it's student athletes. Indeed, no school has had more CoSIDA Academic All-Americans than Nebraska. Yet prior to last year no NU football team has ever (as far as anyone knows) had a cumulative GPA better than 3.0 (the GPA for 2011 was 3.008).

Or consider Penn State, who was ranked No. 1 in the Academic Bowl Championship Series rankings last year. During the fall semester of 2011 Penn State had 38 football players with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, with 16 on the Deans List (3.5 or higher). KU just had 36 football players post a 3.0 GPA or higher, with 14 of them on the Deans List (3.5 or higher). Granted, we're comparing Penn State with Kansas, Fall versus Spring, and it's just one semester of data. Nevertheless, it provides some useful perspective on how significant an accomplishment this is.

The high-horse gloom-and-doomers can try all they want, but this really is a Big Stinkin Deal. Congrats to the coaches, tutors, support staff, and especially to the football players. You just made us extremely proud.

Thank you Matt for a great article.

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panalytic 1 year, 10 months ago

Great job by the football team and the academic support people! Glad it is getting some press too and the support staff gets their names in the paper.

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ukanjhox 1 year, 10 months ago

By the way Matt, Paul Buskirk is not the associate athletic director for student support at Kansas University.

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KEITHMILES05 1 year, 10 months ago

The most disheartening and maddening thing of the past coach was this very topic. I was genuninely shocked and let down he didn't care.

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stm62 1 year, 10 months ago

Lots of KU players would think its ridiculous to get ecstatic over having lettered in high school. The only thing that counts is to make the most of ones abilities.

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manginorh00lz 1 year, 10 months ago

I've said from the start, Weis is the man. This is only the beginning. He will change the entire culture at KU.

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ukanjhox 1 year, 10 months ago

This is great news. But, it's ridiculous that so many of these guys are ecstatic with a 3.0 GPA.

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