Georgia Tech Lowering Academic Standards for Football

By M. Shannon Smallwood
Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are few schools in all of College Football with the academic requirements of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

According to the university’s website, Tech received over 17,000 applications for freshman admission in 2013. Of those, 2,700 were accepted. Within that group of 2,700, only two are currently listed on the 2013 football roster alongside 26 redshirt freshman.

That’s compared to the average ACC Football program with 13 freshman and another 15-plus second-year redshirts. Even the likes of the Duke Blue Devils and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have more freshman than do the Yellow Jackets — and let’s not even bring up the number of first-year players the Stanford Cardinal have enrolled.

So what is the deal with getting talented rookies into the mix in Atlanta? Is it head coach Paul Johnson and his quirky option pistol hybrid? Is is the dominance of the SEC and especially its rival in the Georgia Bulldogs?


Evidently, it all boils down to academics. The average student who gets accepted into Tech has a GPA between 3.85 and 4.11, an average SAT score of 2000 to 2110 or an average ACT score of 29-33, and will have completed an average of six to 11 AP, IB or dual enrollment classes.

Currently, the average college football student-athlete, according to the NCAA, has a entering GPA between 2.00 and 3.55 on average with an SAT score between 820 to 1010 and ACT score ranging from 68 to 86.

Doesn’t quite add up for Tech in today’s world of college football, does it? But despite these potential damaging restrictions on the program, the Yellow Jackets have been consistent in competing for the ACC title in the Johnson Era.

Tnd this is something Tech president Dr. G.P. Bud Peterson understands as he went to Provost Dr. Rafael Bras and demanded a new degree program to assist athletics. His request had just two requirements. One, it had to have technology in its title and two, it had to offer calculus as one of its core subjects.

And with that request, the freshman class of 2013-14 will begin the journey in towards a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history, technology and society from the Ivan Allen School of Arts at Georgia Tech.

With this degree program, freshman will begin their college career focused on basic health and science classes along with intro classes in calculus, history, economics and English. Electives are offered as an option to this as well with the core of the history and technology component not coming until the junior and senior years.

There is no underwater basket-weaving Class, but there are reports of an elective class that deals with the impact of technology and soccer in third-world countries.

Now this is not to knock on the integrity of the good folks in Atlanta, but rather to commend them in this direction they have chosen to go. We all know and realize the potential doors that college football and other sports can open for talented athletes, but at the end of the day, students are enrolled to better themselves across the board in mind, body and spirit.

Nothing anyone accomplishes on the field can ever come close to the potential they hold with training and a degree from any university, especially one of the premier engineering and research schools in the United States.

So kudos Georgia Tech. Welcome to the party finally.

But be ready for your fans to really get batty when you don’t win games you should and keep losing to the Bulldogs. You don’t have room for academic excuses any longer.

M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Follow him @woodysmalls.

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