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Co-Lin football players expected to study hard, too

WESSON — I, Bubba Touchdown, promise to do the following tomaintain my privilege to be part of the WOLFPACK footballteam.

1. Be on time and attend EVERY class period. I will sit inthe front row.

2. Pay attention, demonstrating courtesy and intellectualcuriosity to my classmates and teachers.

3. Study as hard as I play on the field, maintaining a 2.1G.P.A.

I understand I am responsible for my actions. I know successrequires hard, honest work. If I neglect my studies, I accept thephysical punishment, loss of playing time, and/or loss ofscholarship.

The above Wolfpack Football Academic Contract has a place at thebottom of the page for the player’s signature, plus a coach’ssignature, and a date.

Obviously, Copiah-Lincoln Community College football coaches areserious about their players attending class, getting at least a Caverage and performing like a model citizen when they’re not on theplaying field.

Sounds like a breeze for some students. For others, it’s adifficult challenge, something they have never experienced.

Co-Lin defensive coordinator Brett Shufelt proposed the academiccontract idea to head coach Glenn Davis. He also embraced theproposal.

“It’s a privilege to play football at Co-Lin,” said Shufelt. “Weare pushing academics.”

Overall, Co-Lin has steadily upgraded its academic resources underthe guidance of school president Dr. Howell Garner. The athletesalso benefit from having access to a computer during their studyhall time.

It was Brett’s idea,” said Davis. “I think it’s a very good idea.We are trying to teach the players about accountability.”

Bubba might have goofed off during high school. He concentrated onfootball and girls instead of algebra and English. Suddenly, like ahard forearm along side the head, reality sinks in. That low ACTscore might get Bubba in a junior college.

Davis said the young men must realize there is more to life thanfootball. “They are at a point in life, where they are latedevelopers as a student and a football player. We want to impresson them that this is a second chance all-around.”

Davis said discipline on the football field should be followed inthe classroom. “We demand of them to go to class. There’s a directcorrelation between going to class and making D’s F’s.

“The effort to attend class helps their accountability on thefootball field, too. If they take care of their business in class,they’ll take care of it on the football field.”

Many young athletes dream of becoming a professional athlete butonly a handful achieve that goal. “They might come to school withthe idea of becoming a pro football player but they need aneducation first,” said Davis.

One of the keys to making the academic contract a success iscooperation from the Co-Lin faculty. “It’s important that we have agreat relationship with the faculty.” said Davis. “The last time Iwas here, they didn’t hesitate to call us when a player messedup.”

What the student/athlete does in two years at Co-Lin is critical totheir adult life. Co-Lin has an investment in the athletes. Most ofthe time, the graduation rate for athletes is higher than theaverage student rate.

“There are more demands on the athlete than the normal student,”said Davis. “There are times when they have to study.”

Davis said the coaching family looks after the players. “We tellparents all the time that we are mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandma andgrandpa. We are here for them.”

In the works is an improved tutoring program for the athletes. Manyof them are capable of competing on the senior college level iftheir grades are good.

“Brett has done a great job trying to build relationships with thefaculty,” said Davis. “We had a luncheon for our players with highGPA. They invited an instructor to the function.”

Davis said all the freshmen must attend several hours of study halla week. “We have a GPA cutoff for sophomores if they are excellingin the classroom.”

Co-Lin fullback Matthew Delaughter of Brookhaven (Loyd Star) is astrong performer in the classroom, too. He maintained a 3.6 GPA hisfreshman year. He plans to obtain a degree in coaching and sportsadministration. Then he wants to enter New Orleans TheologicalSeminary and seek a master’s in Christian education.

Delaughter said he likes the academic contract idea. “It remindsthese guys that they aren’t just here for football. We are allstudent-athletes. You have to maintain the grades if you want toplay.”

That’s also known as paying the price.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602, or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com