AD wants more enforcement of old, new sports rules

Jordan O'Neal, Staff Reporter

In the past, Cleveland has had difficulty upholding some of the rules stated in the athletics rulebook, but changes are already in place for next year’s sports season with stricter rules for athletes.

Failing grades, unexcused absences and missing registration packets grew increasingly problematic this year. Athletic director Chris Bryant hopes more consistent grade attendance checks will curb the issue.

During an April assembly about the stricter rule enforcement, Bryant said student-athletes must have no unexcused absences at practice and no absences from any classes on game day (unless it is school related) to participate. If there is a misunderstanding on attendance, it is the responsibility of the student athlete to make sure it is corrected.

Head football coach Paul Arnold thinks the rule on absences is too strict, saying there should be some situations where an absence should not prevent a student from competing.

“That’s kind of a tough one there because obviously you’re affecting the whole team based on one individual,” Arnold said. “I think there should be some kind of system … maybe the first time is a warning. But I think it’s very tough to punish the entire team based on one individual mistake.”

Arnold, who makes his players get teachers’ signatures on game days to verify their attendance in class.  said there should be a rule where coaches can “hold students accountable.”

In terms of grading, Bryant reminded athletes their grades from spring 2018 impact their eligibility in the fall. Athletes with a GPA lower than a 2.0 or more than one E in a full class schedule will be deemed ineligible and placed on a five-week probation period.

According to Bryant, the strict policy on grade and attendance checks should have always been enforced because of the positive impact it will have on students later down the road.

“It is always important to get that thought across to kids, especially at a young age,” he said. “Very few kids make it to become professional athletes; very few can even make it to the D-1 college level … so, it’s always important to have your academics and checks so you can provide for yourself in the future.”

Track coach Rickey Davis said the accountability piece rests upon everybody involved when comes to following the rules.

“I don’t blame the athletes … and I think we can do better moving forward,” he said.

Davis, who works as a security specialist for Cleveland, and other coaches who are employees on the school campus, may have easier access to their athletes. They can access grades and track students down during the day when there may be a problem. But for coaches who don’t work at the school, it’s a bit harder to make sure athletes are attending their classes and keeping their grades up to par.

Most off-campus coaches either lack access or don’t know how to use the school’s grading system, Echo, nor do they have access to PowerSchools to check attendance, making it a challenge to see their players’ progress and attendance.

“It’s tough to put that on the coach that may not be in the building,” said Arnold, who works at Cleveland as an instructional assistant.

Softball coach Megan Claus thinks enforcing the athletics rules because it also puts some of the accountability back on the athlete. She said the new rules are a good addition because they encourage students to focus on school while still allowing the athlete to play the sport they enjoy.