Long before the final buzzer at the end of tonight’s national championship game between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and Villanova, one player, Marcus Paige, has already been declared a winner in the game of academic success.
With a GPA last semsester of 3.7, Paige — who has garnered Atlantic Coast Conference and All-American status accolades — has been honored in an academic recognition program named after the late tennis champion Arthur Ashe.
Historically, UNC-Chapel Hill has been considered one of the more selective public institutions in the country, but in the last few years it has has been the subject of several academic scandals. In 2015, the school was placed on probation as a result of these improprieties. Last year, their APR rate was 952, which ranks them as one of the better-performing athletic academic programs in the nations.
Being a senior, Page serves as an antidote of the highly controversial trend in which star athletes enroll and stay for one year before turning professional. This “one and done” phenomenon has been the bane of the NCAA.
The Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar award was started in 1992 by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education, formerly Black Issues in Higher Education. Over the years, an array of outstanding student-athletes, including luminaries such as Randal Pinkett, Kara Lawson and Jacque Vaughn have received the award.
Arthur Ashe would have been proud.