The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Director of Athletics, Carla Wilson, shared a moment of pride as she discussed the Roos being named the inaugural winners of the 2016-17 WAC Academic Excellence Award in an exclusive interview with U-News.
“This is a testament to the hard work of our student-athletes,” said Wilson “It confirms that they are students first.”
Although the WAC does not set the rules for academic standards, they do give recognition to standout institutions. In 2016-17, the Roos proved they dominated the competition in the classroom with an average GPA of 3.34 across all varsity sports.
“We let potential students know before they get here on recruiting visits, ‘You’re here to get a degree that you can use for life after college,’” said Wilson.
Student-Athletes are required to devote a certain amount of time off the court to the books in study hall, and UMKC athletics provides academic support services so that student-athletes perform at their best.
No student is allowed to participate in athletics if they do not meet the academic standards for both UMKC and NCAA.
“The standards are reminders that tell us we need to focus on our academics or we are not going to be able to play,” said Wilson.
According to the WAC website, the primary goal of WAC Compliance is to assist member institutions in promoting successful athletic programs at the highest level of competition, characterized by academic, athletic and moral excellence in diverse collegiate environments.
“The coaches are committed to this standard as well when looking at potential athletes,” said Wilson. “It’s shown in the individual sports achievements.”
Wilson became the director of athletics in December 2013, making her the first female minority to hold the position. UMKC is also her alma mater, making the award not only a professional achievement but a personal one as well.
“It really makes me proud to know the student-athletes are doing what they are supposed to do inside the classroom,” said Wilson.
During the last academic year, UMKC athletics saw an 87 percent graduation success rate from its student-athletes and a school record APR of 982.
“For me, it’s always a career highlight to see student-athletes walk across that stage,” said Wilson.