Athletes make up nearly half of Baker population

Story by Kyle Davis

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Many of Baker University’s athletic facilities, aside from Collins Center and Mabee Hall, can’t be seen from campus, but the student athletes who call the fields their home are hard to miss.

Nearly half of the students attending Baker spend their time outside of the classroom wearing Baker athletic uniforms.

Assistant Athletic Director Theresa Yetmar said typically between 42 and 45 percent of the student population is athletes. However, a more staggering 74 percent of this year’s freshman class is athletes. One factor in the increase was the addition of two new sports: wrestling and women’s bowling.

“(Wrestling) coach (Jimmy) May did an excellent job of bringing in 40 new athletes to Baker that have really been a great addition to campus,” Yetmar said. “I think that he got a lot of great support from admissions and from financial aid in order to bring in that size of a class.”

Just because a student comes to Baker to participate in a sport, doesn’t mean that will be his or her only focus.

“(Baker athletes) are really diverse people in terms of their involvement. Baker is such a highly-participatory place,” Director of Admissions Daniel McKinney said. “We’re always talking about Baker as that place where you can be that football quarterback, you can be that actor on stage … or whatever it is, if that’s what you want, come into this environment, you have a great opportunity for that.”

Along with excelling on the field, Baker’s student athletes are finding success in the classroom.

In the 2008-2009 academic year, the cumulative grade point average for men’s teams at Baker was a conference-best 3.04. The women’s team posted a 3.368, which was fourth best in the HAAC.

“I think our coaches are very savvy about the kind of student athlete who is going to fit in at Baker and have a chance to be successful on the field and in the classroom,” Yetmar said.

The Baker football team led the country with nine academic all-Americans, with seven of the nine players also receiving all-conference football honors.

“Academically, we’re as strong as ever,” Grossner said. “That’s when you know you’re recruiting the right fit. The off-the-field problems are less, the academic problems are less, and you’re graduating guys.”

The price of an education at Baker requires many incoming student athletes to have the necessary grades to receive both academic and athletic scholarships in order to afford to attend the university.

"We can't package a kid without having a 3.0 (GPA) and a 22 (ACT) or a 1060 (SAT)," Grossner said. "They can't afford to go to school here."<br/>Grossner believes the ACT incentive award, giving students with a minimum score of 25 on the test an extra $1,500 to close to $5,000, needs to be reinstated to help bring students to campus. Grossner believes the ACT incentive award, giving students with a minimum score of 25 on the test an extra $1,500 to close to $5,000, needs to be reinstated to help bring students to campus. 
Grossner believes the ACT incentive award, giving students with a minimum score of 25 on the test an extra $1,500 to close to $5,000, needs to be reinstated to help bring students to campus. 

“To me, that’s one thing that helped us as recruiters targeting good student athletes and knowing that was going to be a topper to the whole package,” Grossner said.

Yetmar said the percentages of athletes on campus will probably remain the same in years to come.

"I think we'll probably always have, at least in my opinion, probably that 50-50 type of split because of the small one-on-one nature that Baker wants to offer for students," Yetmar said. "So, I think it just fits, it just works."<br/>