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Getting the most from athletics

"Too often parents and students make a huge mistake by putting athletics before academics," Rick Pound said Wednesday June 10.

Pound, director of athletics at Skaneateles High School, spoke to parents and student athletes about packaging academics with athletics as a way to teach them how to get the best bang for their buck when it comes to playing sports in college.

The program was put together about 15 years ago to teach how to use athleticism to gain academics like a bargaining chip, according to Pound, who was joined by a panel of former Skaneateles students and current student athletes at Division I, II and III schools.

Among his lessons, Pound gave the group gathered in the high school auditorium scenarios to think about. One such scenario included "Bob," a student athlete from New York who was a Division I or II caliber football player, above average student and musically and theatrically gifted. Bob registered for a theater arts/English class as his senior year English elective, but the course is not approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center, though it had been in the past. He received a letter from the compliance officer at his selected college stating Bob is a "non-qualifier."

"What they don't tell you is if you don't get this rectified, you lose a year of eligibility," Pound said.

But, who was looking out for the student and whose responsibility was it to find out if the class was approved? According to Pound, it falls on the shoulders of the school counselor, coach, athletic director, parents and the student athlete.

The overall goal is to have open communication between the academic and athletic personnel, Pound said.

When it comes to schools and what division they are ranked, "Take away the D's," Pound said.

"To say there's no comparison [between Division I, II and III] is absolutely ludicrous," alumni panelist Dan Bennett said.

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