Jan. 19, 2017
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall women's basketball coach is proud of what his teams have been able to accomplish on the court. But the outcome on the scoreboard isn't all that interests the fifth-year head coach.
"My favorite letters in the alphabet are A's and W's - A's in the classroom and W's on the floor," Daniel said. "We've taken a lot of pride everywhere we've been that academics are at the forefront of everything we do. Our team goal is 3.0 (grade point average) for a semester, and we've achieved that so many semesters in a row that I've lost track."
Daniel said he and his assistants are always thinking outside of the box, and that includes their approach to academics. The "student" part of student-athlete isn't lost on him, and preparing his players for life after college is paramount. That is how the Herd women have been able to sustain academic success semester after semester.
"I think we're recruiting the right kind of students, and if it is a student who has challenges then their work ethic is pretty good," Daniel said. "I give my staff a lot of credit but ultimately the responsibility of academics is on the student-athlete."
One strategy Daniel has used in the past involves splitting the players up on teams and assigning each team to a member of the coaching staff. Each team competes against the others throughout the semester. At the end of the semester Daniel plans a dinner. The "mini-team" with the best GPA gets to eat. The second place team must decide whether they're going to cook the food, go shop for the food or clean up after the meal. The third and fourth place teams have to choose from the remaining options.
Basketball games aren't the only competitions going on. The coaches push the student-athletes and set the bar high in the classroom.
"I don't go to graduation because I don't understand what the fuss is about," Daniel said. "That's the expectation here. We want to graduate with high GPAs. We're going to be successful academically."
Logan Fraley is a sophomore guard from Ashland, Kentucky. Fraley is a double major - Health Sciences and Psychology - and she plans to get a minor in Management.
"We have academic coaches we meet with every week," she said. "They really stress that you are on top of things."
Staying on top of academics can be a challenge for a student-athlete, especially with the demands of travel. Fraley and her teammates are sometimes pulled away from campus for two-game road trips that can keep them away from the classroom for four or five days at a time. The support system the school and the coaching staff provides can be imperative for academic success.
One thing is clear: Daniel and the women's basketball program are consistently successful. That starts from the time Marshall begins courting a prospective student-athlete.
"They definitely made sure we knew while they were recruiting us that we are coming here to get an education and that they are going to do everything to make sure we succeed," Fraley said. "Ever since I've been here we've gotten a 3.0 as a team. We have study halls and tutoring and they stay on top of us, for sure."