It is always gratifying to see good things in print about our students at Coastal Carolina University, whether their achievements are academic, athletic or in service to the community. I was especially pleased recently to read Issac Bailey’s column that sang the praises of our football program and our head football coach, Joe Moglia (“He may not, but CCU’s David DeCenzo has earned the right to gloat, at least a little,” November 13, 2014).
While I appreciate the headline reference to gloating, I’ve been president here at CCU for seven and a half years and have found that it is best to refrain from getting too elated about the decisions that turn out well or too dejected about the ones that don’t turn out so well.
It is true that our football team has made great strides under Coach Moglia on the field. Our players demonstrate the intelligence, the values, the mettle and the work ethic that their head coach models.
And while winning games is a big component of why we engage in intercollegiate athletic competition, it is only part of the reason. In Mr. Bailey’s thoughtful column, he mentions that he would like to know more about “off the field issues,” specifically academic concerns.
A few years ago, the NCAA began requiring its member institutions to annually calculate an Academic Progress Rate (APR) to give an indication of the headway being made toward graduation and to gauge actual graduation rates of scholarship athletes. A perfect score is 1000, and the benchmark required for all sports teams is 930.
Our 2012-2013 APR for football in Coach Moglia’s first year was 967, and that number is projected to go much higher in the soon-to-be-released 2013-2014 score. Our multiyear rolling average was 951 in 2012-2013, and that score is also projected to be a good bit higher when last year’s scores are made public.
After Coach Moglia’s first season we were also ranked 28th for highest improvement on the APR four-year rolling ranking out of the 243 NCAA schools that play Division I football – inclusive of the ones in our FCS category and the ones who play in the SEC, ACC and the other major conferences. Thirty-five of our football players were on the Big South Presidential Honor Roll and we had the best APR in the Big South Conference that year. This current year, we have three football student-athletes on the Capital One Academic All-District Team.
And in case you’re wondering, we don’t have any of those “easy” majors for our student-athletes that have gotten other schools in trouble. A survey of our football team will reveal a wide variety of majors and coursework. Several years ago, I began having our athletic academic advisers report directly to the University’s chief academic officer, instead of to our director of athletics. This has created an appropriate separation of duties and provides a healthy culture of checks and balances.
Along with stringent monitoring of our student-athletes by full-time academic counselors and a football coaching staff that takes academics seriously, Coach Moglia places a lot of emphasis on his BAM program. That’s an acronym for “Be A Man.” Gender aside, it is about standing on one’s own two feet and accepting responsibility for one’s actions.
A significant element of that initiative happens every Thursday, when practice is cut short for team discussions on a variety of topics relating to current events, to career planning, to principles of democracy, to the world of business and other items of interest.
Winning games and championships is important, but these complementary endeavors of our football program – a true focus on academics and teaching young people the basics of adulthood and good citizenship – are the real reason we have intercollegiate athletics. I congratulate Coach Moglia for understanding that and for putting it into practice daily with his team.
The young athletes who pass through our football program will become better players, better students and better men by living this comprehensive BAM philosophy.
And that’s something to gloat about.