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Behind the scenes of how UTEP student-athletes juggle academics with sports obligations

EL PASO, Texas - The season is over, and the collegiate semester is winding down. But for UTEP student athletes, it's a chance to end their academic year on a winning note.

When UTEP offensive lineman Robert Mervin arrived on campus, he didn’t have the grades to see the field. So he came to the Miner Athlete Academic Center, on the upstairs portion of the Academic Advising building.

“If I didn’t have the MAAC, I’d probably be home. I probably would’ve flunked out and went home," says Mervin, a Dumfries, Virginia native.

As they do with all athletes the MAAC set up Robert up with tutors and advisers, to make the sure the term student-athlete holds up both ends.

“I’ve seen a big improvement, semester through semester, year by year. Like really big," adds Mervin.

"My last semester I had like three A’s and one B."

The tutors and resources are at no cost to the athlete, and help to balancing both academic and athletic obligations.

“We have three levels of tutors that we hire," says UTEP Vice President for Advising Heather Smith. "We do hire junior and senior undergrads, we hire graduate students, and we also extend out and hire teachers who like to moonlight from the various districts."

"So we have a wide variety, but we also have tutors who are able to assist students with study skills organizational skills, time management.”

Under UTEP Athletic Jim Senter, the department graduation rate increased immediately, from 79% in 2016-17 when he took over to 86% in 2019-20.

The NCAA Division-1 average is 90%, but with the Miner men’s basketball seeing six player transfers, that outlier affects the graduation rate. The team GPA backs that claim up, with the grade point average at 3.11.

The following provides a list of UTEP's team GPAs by sport.

Sport2019-202020 Fall
Men's Basketball3.1103.41
Women's Basketball3.3603.45
Women's Soccer3.1603.21
Men's Track3.0302.95
Women's Track3.1603.16
Men's Golf3.3503.21
Women's Golf3.6203.45
Women's Tennis3.5403.66

Nate Ryan

Nate Ryan is an ABC-7 sports anchor/reporter.


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