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The Good Word

Dec. 22, 2006

TO: Fans, Friends, and Supporters of Georgia Tech Athletics

FROM: Dan Radakovich, Georgia Tech Director of Athletics

This correspondence comes in the midst of the Holiday season and on behalf of all of the student-athletes, coaches and administrators at Georgia Tech I want to wish each of you the happiest of times with family and friends over the coming weeks. Our Georgia Tech family is busily preparing for our trip to the Gator Bowl and our showdown with West Virginia on New Year’s Day. We continue to be excited and upbeat about the opportunity to play in such a prestigious and historic bowl setting in front of millions of viewers on CBS television.

I wanted to communicate with you today in the aftermath of the news that two of our senior football players have been declared academically ineligible to play in the bowl game. I have received many comments via e-mail with varied sentiments on the issue and I would be remiss if I did not set the record straight. First, we are all saddened when this type of thing occurs. Sad, first and foremost, for the student-athlete and the hardship it creates in their lives. But also, I feel for the others affected like teammates, coaches, alumni and fans.

I want to make it perfectly clear that academics are THE No. 1 priority in this athletic program. Many systems are in place, providing personnel and funding for the support of our student-athletes and their academic endeavors. In this most recent case, all of those systems functioned properly. There was sufficient monitoring and tutorial help available and the communication lines between our academic services personnel and the coaches and students were in place. Such monitoring in the final days of any semester almost always comes down to relying of the assessment and communication of the student himself. Student grades and progress trends are consistently reported to coaches in every sport. However, in the final analysis, it is the student that has to get the job done, and grades often times hinge on heavily-weighted exams and projects completed in the final days of the term. This, I believe, was the source of Coach Chan Gailey’s comment from Wednesday night that “I wish we had known earlier” in referring to one student’s situation. His comment was not intended to be an indictment of our monitoring and information flow throughout the term.

I don’t have to tell you that Georgia Tech is a demanding institution. Students here, athletes and non-athletes, sometimes fail to meet the required standards. This does not in any way mean that the academic support system has failed. I am extremely proud of the hundreds of Yellow Jacket student-athletes who persevere the difficult curriculum and time demands to succeed here. Almost every one of those student-athletes have been assisted and supported by our academic services unit.

While these departures are certainly high profile, they should not tarnish an otherwise stellar, hard-working group of councilors, tutors, coaches and administrators within Georgia Tech athletics that support and demand academic integrity and success. Anything less is simply unacceptable.

See you in Jacksonville.

P.S. Let’s beat those Dawgs tonight!

We welcome your feedback at goodword@athletics.gatech.edu

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