FAMU Athletics’ New Direction in Academics
By Chaninn Ragland
Florida A&M athletics has moved in a new direction with the newly hired Athletic Director Milton Overton and Head Football Coach Alex Wood. Both have plans to make FAMU athletics a powerhouse program again. Their mission is not only to do it on the playing field, but also in the classroom.
For the 2015-2016 school year, several FAMU athletic programs including football cannot participate in post-season play due to low performance scores on the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR).
To improve in the APR and academics is on the top of both Overton and Wood’s priority lists.
One goal Overton wants to accomplish his first year is to deal with the APR issue.
“I want to get all the teams on probation off,” said Overton. “We are in line to do that.”
He also wants all the teams to have a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) or better.
Overton has plans to upgrade the athletes academic support system with newly added academic resources. With the help of the $675,000 Academic Enhancement Grant from the NCAA, Overton wants to use the money to add new technology, academic support staff and get student access to more academic advisors.
He wants to install new software for athletics called “Grade First.” It helps the athletic department and coaching staff get the grades first from the faculty members on a regular basis to help monitor their student-athletes’ academics.
“It will help us to identify if the student-athlete is not doing well in their courses. If so, we can apply tutoring and other academic services needed,” Overton said.
Wood, has his plan dealing with APR and football academics.
“First it starts with recruiting,” said Wood.
“We have to recruit a different profile of student athlete. The student athlete has to have a proven academic history that shows that the athlete can perform on college level,” Wood said. “Their GPA and core courses has to reflect on measurable admissibility to the university.”
Wood already has an academic support system in place upon arrival of the athletes.
Being hired as head football coach since last spring, Wood has already made strives to improve FAMU football academics: Establishing an academic support system to help monitor his athletes throughout the academic school year and monitoring his athletes as close as class checks.
“Only being here since last spring , we performed over 551 class checks, ” said Wood.
Over a full academic school year, Wood and his staff is expecting to do over 1,200 class checks.