Nearly every student-athlete that falls in love with their sport eventually dreams of playing at the college level. Unfortunately for most, that dream never comes true.

Many people in the community believe that a talented high school athlete who receives a letter of interest from a college, has an offer, but Jeff Canady, Athletic Director at Knox Central High School, says that is not true.

“Colleges are not offering athletes, they are offering student-athletes,” Canady said. “A college will not offer a scholarship to a student that does not qualify academically. The first thing they do is ask for the students transcripts. If they are not in good standings academically, they will not pursue them.”

Union College Men’s Basketball coach, Kevin Burton backed up what Canady said. Burton admitted that he does not continue to recruit a student-athlete that doesn’t qualify academically.

“The first thing we do is check academics,” Burton said. “Unfortunately a student not being eligible academically happens a significant amount of time. If it’s because of their environment or their circumstances, I would be sympathetic, but if it’s just poor performance, I’m not sympathetic. The vast-majority of situations where a student is ineligible is self-inflected by the student-athlete.”

Knox Central has had several student-athletes who have earned scholarships to play at the next level. Canady says the school is averaging between 17 and 18 college signings per year. 

Unfortunately some standout athletes, who have received interest from well-known universities, were not offered a scholarship due to their low test scores.

Canady spoke about the steps that the school takes to prepare students for their college entry exams and feels that all of the resources are there for a student to improve academically.

“We offer tutoring on a regular-basis,” he said. “There is no excuse that they don’t have help. We even offer buses to take the kids home.”

At the beginning of each school year, the school encourages students to come out and join a team. They go over what it takes to be a student-athlete and what their policy is on staying eligible.

“We talk about ‘2.3 take a knee’,” Canady said. “It you don’t have a 2.3 grade point average you are not eligible. We do weekly GPA and attendance checks. If a student has six-unexcused absences they become ineligible to play. Our standards are set early and in writing.”

Every student at Knox Central can take the ACT once for free. They have recently added ACT tutoring that is available throughout the year. Students can choose to attend tutoring on the days that focus on the subject they need help with.

Canady’s son, Jeffrey, earned a scholarship and played football at Eastern Kentucky University, so Canady knows first-hand what it takes to become a college athlete. He talked about how much he enjoys seeing a student-athlete sign to play at the next level.

“I love the signings,” he said. “I love it when our kids are able to take their talents to the next level. That’s our ultimate goal.”

Candy knows that all kids will not reach that goal and for some it’s because of their academics.

“It’s sad,” he said. “We know their potential. We go out of our way to do everything possible to help them. We try to explain to them the bigger picture.”

If a former student decides they need help after graduating from Knox Central, Candy says it don’t matter how far down the road it is, they are always welcome and the school will always be willing to help them.

“We have helped former students,” Canady said. “They represent our school long after they graduate and we want to see them succeed. Once a Panther, always a Panther.”

Recommended for you