COLLEGE STATION – Head coach Billy Kennedy has met many challenges head-on since taking the reins of the Texas A&M men’s basketball program in the spring of 2011 but one that remains a pillar of his program has been the academic success of his student-athletes.
As a result of this, along with the hard work of the student-athletes in the classroom, the Aggie men’s basketball squad recorded an impressive 3.12 team GPA during the 2013 spring semester, one of the highest team GPA’s in recent memory which featured nine players with a 3.0 or higher.
“We had a great academic year this season,” Kennedy said, “Three seniors graduated and all of our group improved their GPA as well as their progress toward graduation. I’m really proud of our players for their effort in the classroom.”
In the two seasons he’s been on the job in Aggieland, Kennedy has seen more and more of his student-athletes suit up for the final time not in the Maroon & White of their game uniform but in the cap and gown of a Texas A&M graduate.
In fact after two seasons of the Kennedy regime, four (Dash Harris, Jarod Jahns, Elston Turner and Ray Turner) of seven seniors on his two A&M teams have graduated with two more on track to graduate before the end of the year (Zach Kinsley and Alex Baird).
“Barry Davis and our staff have done a great job of reaching out and encouraging our former players to come back and get their degrees,” Kennedy added. “This has been an emphasis since I got to A&M.”
Kennedy and his staff have worked hard to impress upon these young men the importance of making the most of their time on campus and leaving College Station with a degree and a shiny Aggie ring.
The impressive resources of Texas A&M’s Center for Student-Athlete Services, which includes scholastic supervisors, tutors and reading specialists, have all made a big impact on the Aggie basketball student-athletes. Troy Kema, senior scholastic supervisor, began assisting the men’s basketball team during the spring semester.
“People oftentimes lose sight of the fact that our student-athletes are students first and athletes second,” said Texas A&M Director of Athletics Eric Hyman. “I appreciate that Coach Kennedy and his staff have continually stressed the importance of academics with our current team, while also encouraging our former student-athletes to complete their degrees. Holding a degree from a prestigious institution such as Texas A&M is extremely valuable.”
Another indicator of the progress that the program has made is reflected in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate. Since Kennedy arrived in 2011-12, the program has seen its individual-year APR score rise each of the last two seasons and are expecting even higher results when the yearly tally for the 2012-13 season is released next summer.