Baseball and Education: Mets Inspire

March 10, 2012

Fact: The federal graduation rate for baseball players in the 2004 entering class is 48%. – NCAA Graduation Success Rate Report

As we sat outside the Mets’ minor league locker room, not a player went by with out saying hello or shaking Dr. Astro’s hand. He was obviously liked, respected, and trusted. Dr. Richard Astro is the Academic Liaison for the New York Mets and one of the founders of Sport in Society.

As a former Dean of Arts and Sciences at Northeastern University, Astro was familiar and supportive of our online degree program. But we still met so he could learn more details, such as the online tutoring, athletic mentoring, and the course transfer services we offer players. As the Academic Liaison, he will later convey our information to interested players.

After our informal presentation, we continued to sit with Astro as he spoke on the challenges of education in baseball. He was disappointed but realistic about the college graduation rates of baseball players. He longed for the answer on how to help Dominican players prepare for a future without baseball. And he shared with us the stories of heartbreak from the broken dreams of the released ball player.

The Mets have both players and coaches working on their college degrees. Astro explained that when a coach works on his degree, he is not only helping himself, but by default becomes an educational role model to his players. Role models, trust, and an environment where school is important are all key factors in guiding minor leaguers through a degree completion program.

Veteran MLB Scout, Craig Conklin, clarifies why trust is so important to players: “Too often people want something from the players and the players learn to become cautious.” Conklin continues, “But trust is everything. When working with players, the relationship is what matters.”

As the Athletic Mentor for those who enroll in our customized degree program, ensuring that the players know that I care for them, is paramount to me. Sport in Society was founded on a principal that we could help athletes finish their degrees. What an amazing moment for me, to be sitting with Astro, and be a part of fulfilling what he had envisioned 27 years ago.

As I do my best to mentor our online student-athletes, I need to look no further then Astro, for my own inspiration. He has my trust, respect, and I like him.

-To read more about Justine’s journey through spring training, visit