Student-athletes at the University of Illinois continue to excel both in the classroom and on the playing field. Our mission in Academic Services is to provide an opportunity for the student-athlete to be as successful as possible scholastically while competing at the highest level athletically. Success in achieving this mission is evident by the on-and-off field performances of all our athletic teams. During the 2010-11 academic year, Illinois athletic teams posted a combined grade point average of 3.10. In the fall, 12 out of the 19 sports earned a team GPA of 3.0 or higher. In the spring semester, that number improved to 13 out of 19 teams above a 3.0. For the fall semester, more than 54 percent of Illinois student-athletes earned GPAs above a 3.0; in the spring, that number was 61 percent. Last fall, 26 student-athletes from twelve different sports earned perfect 4.0 GPAs, while 17 student-athletes had perfect GPAs in the spring 2011 semester.
In conjunction with our academic emphasis, at the University of Illinois we are committed to preparing well-rounded citizens to be leaders in all aspects of their lives. The CHAMPS Life Skills program, geared toward promoting the complete student-athlete, is available to all our young men and women. The program features five areas of emphasis: Academic Excellence, Athletic Excellence, Personal Development, Career Development, and Community Service. As part of that initiative, our student-athletes are very active in the Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities, completing more than 6,800 hours of service in the 2010-11 academic year. Through their Jock Jams fundraiser, University of Illinois student-athletes raised almost $20,000 to go to three local charities and the SALSC (Student Athletes Leading Social Change) group who built a school in Ecuador this past summer. The Illini Leadership Academy, through our ongoing partnership with sports leadership expert Jeff Janssen, continues to develop leadership skills in Illinois athletes both on and off the field. New partnerships with the organization Career Athletes and with the Game Theory Group to assist our student-athletes in their career development are on the horizon.
A useful measure of the success of University of Illinois student-athletes can be seen in the graduation success rate of the scholarship student-athletes. The most recent GSR published by the NCAA for Illinois is 86 percent. This rate does not reflect the graduation rate of all Illinois athletes, as it does not include non-scholarship student-athletes. We anticipate this rate would be even higher should all athletes be included. Such high marks are further evidence of Illinois’ emphasis on academic achievement and the continued commitment of our coaches and administration to provide unmatched support services for our student-athletes to excel in the classroom.
To be recognized as the best, Illinois student-athletes not only have to achieve success athletically, but also in the classrooms, lecture halls, and laboratories across campus. The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics is committed to helping our student-athletes attain their goals by providing comprehensive academic resources and services, allowing our student-athletes to position themselves for great life experiences, and to take advantage of all the benefits associated with a valuable University of Illinois education.