Henrico is already taking steps to make sure that new grade requirements don't hurt student athletes. There are concerns about the 11 percent of students in the county who don't currently make the grade. NBC 12 found out the school district plans to level the playing field:
Excelling on the field will now come with a greater goal in Henrico, making touchdowns in the classroom as well.
"I think that can push students to achieve the higher grade," says student athlete Victroy Harris.
He plays basketball at Highland Springs and says his team is looking forward to meeting the new 2.0 GPA challenge.
"I would hope it would boost everybody so they can try to bring their grades up," he said.
The other side of the debate focuses on those student athletes who are primarily motivated to stay in school because of sports but can't meet this requirement. What would be the alternative?
"If there's no such thing as sports, some people will drop out…I think most people will start doing illegal things….just trying to get by because their game was ruined," said athlete Dequan Sherman.
Sherman admits he falls short of a 2.0 right now. The change won't affect him since he graduates this year, but we took his concerns to school board member Lamont Bagby.
"If you're coming to school every day and coming to practice every day, you're actually sacrificing a lot of your time to be a student athlete and if you're not getting what you need to get to be successful after high school then were doing you a disservice," Bagby said.
He says it's why the district placed academic advisors specifically for struggling athletes in schools this year and acknowledges more has to be done to help all athletes perform in class. So he talked to parents and coaches for feedback.
"They want to have the opportunity to provide tutoring and academic support in the summer while they're also doing weight training and physical training," Bagby added.
A seemingly positive new plan finds the district now finding ways to ensure it's attainable.
"We'll just have to see if that GPA thing brings their grades up so they can go to college," Harris said.
The Virginia High School League does not require students athletes meet a certain GPA. It just requires they pass their courses. Henrico's plan will go into effect in September of 2013 as a pilot year to get students used to the change.
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