MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

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March 26, 2014

Stoops gives his take on HBO segment

NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops gave his take on the HBO “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” segment that aired Tuesday night and focused on what kind of majors athletes are taking in order to graduate.

One of the people interviewed for the story was former OU offensive tackle Eric Mensick, who said the degree he received in multidisciplinary studies hasn’t helped him in the job market.

“I wouldn’t imagine Eric is the only 25-year-old that doesn’t have the job he wants, right? I bet there are quite a few out there that are trying to get a better job,” Stoops said Tuesday. “He’s a great young man and I don’t know what all it’s going to be, but I know we’re very proud about how hard we work with our guys.”

The degree in multidisciplinary studies is at the root on the segment titled “Gaming the System.” HBO says it became a favored degree path among major college athletes when the NCAA instituted the Advanced Progress Rate score for each school. Programs that fall under a certain average are subject to scholarship reductions and postseason bans. No OU program has been sanctioned due to a low APR score.

Stoops also defended the multidisciplinary studies program. He pointed to former OU All-American center Gabe Ikard. On Tuesday, he received a post-graduate scholarship from the NCAA to pursue a medical degree. Ikard graduated with a 4.0 grade point average.

Former OU fullback Trey Millard, who graduated with a degree in psychology, also received a postgraduate scholarship from the NCAA on Tuesday.

“I do find it interesting they didn’t talk to Gabe Ikard or Trey Millard or probably a hundred other guys we’ve had,” Stoops said.

The coach argued all students are pushed into the majors that best fit their aptitude. Athletes are no different.

“You have to gravitate to something you can succeed in. It’s either that or fail At the end of the day, everyone has different abilities — on the field and in the classroom,” he said. “All of you are the same way. You have to work with that to get the best education you’re able to get. Not everyone is a 4.0 and can do whatever they want to do. Sometimes you have to work within your skill and your mental ability.”

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