WEST ORANGE, NJ – The messages that academics are as important as athletics, and that coaches and administration are committed to making sure it stays that way with the Athletic Students for Academic Proficiency (ASAP) Program were made clear at a March 30 meeting held at West Orange High School Superintendent Jeffrey Rutzky, West Orange High School Athletic Director Ron Bligh, Principal Hayden Moore, Athletic Trainer Eugene Palatanios and Attorney Peter Till were all on hand to meet with student athletes and parents during this third of three yearly required meetings.

The requirements of the ASAP program were laid out throughout the evening where Rutzy underscored the importance of academic success over athletic success.

“It is not your parents’ responsibility to prepare you for high school,” he said. “It is your responsibility to get it done in the classroom. Most importantly, you can’t get back today or yesterday…do not give up in the classroom. Start strong and finish strong the rest of the year.”

Sign Up for E-News

Bligh detailed the process that athletes must agree to with the ASAP program, which is in its fifth year and raises the bar to maintain eligibility to play. Any D or F grade requires an athlete to enter into a ten-day grace period to improve that grade before entering into the ASAP program, and the student cannot play until he/she participates in the program and the grades improve.

Approximately 25 percent of the athletes are in the ASAP program, with freshmen comprising the highest number. Rutzky said that the district planned to visit Edison, Liberty and Roosevelt Middle Schools with successful student athletes to talk about ASAP and the requirements.

Peter Till, an attorney involved with college recruitment, told parents and students that coaches love ASAP and athletes that are also strong academically.

“A 2.0 GPA is not good enough to compete for college placement and slots at D1, 2 or 3 colleges…you have to have the grades,” he said.

Following Till was Palatanios, who discussed the strict concussion policy followed by the NJSIAA and West Orange High School.