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Golden Nuggets: Cal's academic commitment from past and current student-athletes

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Cal Athletics is showing a commitment to academics with our current student-athletes scoring well in the Academic Progress Rate (APR) and our former student-athletes returning to finish their degrees.

Gregory Shamus

Cal Athletics is showing its dedication to academics with a number of former students-turned-pro who are coming back to Berkeley to finish their degree. Don't be afraid if you see Tully Banta-Cain next to you in Physics 7A! (Well, maybe be a little bit scared because he might try to hit you.)

Banta-Cain is not alone as a former student-athlete in the classroom. He, along with dozens of others, is taking advantage of Cal's Degree Completion Program (DCP), a coordinated effort that includes support from the Athletic Study Center, Cal Athletics, the Office of the Registrar, college and major advisors, and, of course, the student-athletes themselves.

"I fully believe from a moral and ethical standpoint that we need to commit ourselves institutionally back to [former student-athletes]," said Derek Van Rheenen, the director of the Athletic Study Center who oversees the Degree Completion Program. "Not in the short run, not just while they're participating in sports, but in the long run. If someone is not ultimately graduating while they're here and eligible, that offer continues to remain throughout their lives. They decide when it's the right time to come back."

We've got a great number of former student-athletes who are now focusing on just the student part, from football (like Jahvid Best, J.J. Arrington, and Devin Bishop), basketball (Sean Lampley), and swimming (Anthony Ervin). More mature and without the commitment of sports, these students are excelling.

"Your time management is better," said Arrington, who led the nation in rushing in 2004 and was a second-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals before a series of knee surgeries ended his playing career. "This is my first time going to school without playing a sport. Part of the reason I signed (with Cal) was for the education. Like the NFL was a dream, to finish school was a big dream, too. I'm going to be the only male in my family to graduate from a four-year college."

The opportunity to play in the NFL is a big pull factor that leads to the postponement of graduation. Because of that, Coach Sonny Dykes is making a concerted effort to welcome past players back not only to school, but to join the Cal Football Family. Under Dykes's leadership, the Cal football team has seen a huge improvement in our Academic Progress Rate (APR), which Avi covered yesterday. Not only does the football team have great APR news, but we also have eight teams that earned a perfect score of 1000: men's tennis, men's water polo, women's basketball, women's golf, women's gymnastics, women's tennis, volleyball, and women's water polo. Congrats to all these hard-working students!

Speaking of academics, let's celebrate the Class of 2014 by taking a look at what life was like when the Class of 1914 graduated.

Sand Volleyball


Men's Basketball

Women's Basketball

Men's Water Polo