It starts with an ironclad commitment,
made clear at every turn: Yes, we want good
athletes, but if you come to Bucknell, you
are a student first and an athlete second.
Potential recruits who check out the
athletics department website immediately
get the message. The home page’s top
headline proudly mentions that second-in-the-nation graduation rate. Under “What It
Means to Be a Bison,” prospective athletes
are told, “You are a scholar first and foremost.” Several Bison sports disseminate
recruiting forms that ask students about
their academic record before they are asked
to list their athletic accomplishments.
President John Bravman makes Bucknell’s
core philosophy clear: “We are not going
to admit students based solely on their
That said, Bucknell is not looking for the
brainiac who dabbles in sports as a sideline.
To be a varsity athlete requires what the
athletics department calls a “rare blend
of physical skills along with the drive and
passion needed to succeed at the highest
Creating this student-athlete culture allows Bucknell to attract recruits such
as men’s soccer standout Jesse Klug ’ 16. The Seattle-area high-school star
wasn’t sure he wanted to keep playing in college. “I value academics a lot,”
he says. “The purpose of going to college is getting an education. Soccer was
a bonus.” An Academic All-American, Klug ranks eighth among Bucknell
soccer’s all-time goal scorers, with 29.
To Bravman, Bucknell’s commitment to upholding high academic standards
for student-athletes is unshakeable. “We’re not going to deviate from it,” he
says. “It’s part of our identity.”
CRUSHING DEMANDS ON TIME
Meeting Bucknell’s lofty academic standards while playing Division I sports
is, to put it mildly, a challenge. During the season, student-athletes not only
attend practices and games, but they also do weight training and conditioning
work on their own and spend long hours traveling on road trips.
“It’s almost as if you have a full-time job and are going to school on top of it,”
says Valter Karavanic ’00, a key member of the 1999-2000 men’s basketball
team featured in sports journalist John Feinstein’s book, The Last Amateurs.
“Managing my time was the hardest part,” says Matt DelMauro ’ 16, an
Academic All-American football player who led the team in rushing as a
senior and ended his career with 12 touchdowns. “I had to put myself on a
He and other Bison footballers get help on that score from coach Joe Susan.
He has all players fill out a weekly calendar showing all their classes and sports
commitments. If they want down time — say, to play video games — they need
to find an open slot and put it on their schedule.
Lauren Wible LaBarca ’06, named to the Patriot League’s 25th anniversary
all-star team in softball, remembers getting up at 7: 30 or 8 a.m. on Saturday and
If you come to
Bucknell, you are
a student first and
an athlete second.
JESSE KLUG ’ 16 I SOCCER
MANAGING FOR SUSTAINABILITY