Adjustment to the rigors of academic and athletic life in a highly competitive university presents difficulties, even for gifted individuals. For many incoming student athletes, the challenges are compounded academically, athletically, and socially.
negotiate the same courses as non-athletes, but with a shorter academic day and far less study time (and less energy).
have (relative to the more usual student) poorer high school preparation ; have not taken advanced math, science, or writing, etc.
often have few developed study skills ; they were able to be academically successful in high school through talent, not technique.
are the first in their families to go to college . They don’t understand the system and what to expect. They are very unsure about how to talk with their professors and tend to avoid them if humanly possible.
discover that high profile status makes life pretty confusing ( unreasonably idolized and unreasonably criticized ).
find that minority-status tensions make life hard . The tension of always being just a little different and always having to work to prove oneself and fit in is extremely wearing.
have little time to become a part of the university . They are often isolated from the university at large by being in too many classes together and not having enough opportunity (free time) to join in the larger community in a natural way.
tend to be homesick longer and more seriously than most students; they often don’t get to go home on breaks , which prolongs the homesickness.
In spite of all these challenges, student athletes can not only survive , but they can graduate in large numbers (at-risk student athletes as well as the more typical student athletes) when responsive support is in place.
The University recognizes its responsibility to provide appropriate assistance for student athletes to meet the demands of both academic and athletic pursuits.
To this end, the Chancellor, President, Provost, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, & Athletic Director set the tone, and
the University community collaborates on and contributes to a network of guidance and support, ensuring that student athletes are integrated into University services and resources.
Building a Responsive Support Network Chancellor, President, Provost, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, & Athletic Director set the tone. SAAS Social Student Affairs Campus Life Athletic Coaches Administrators Trainers Weight Room Staff Academic Faculty Dept & Col Advisors SAAS Advisors Tutors & Mentors
To teach those disciplined habits, SAAS needs the support and active participation of many individuals throughout the university community in setting the standard for these student athletes.
Working closely with coaches, faculty, college advisors, and student athlete leadership groups, SAAS establishes guidelines, expectations, consequences, and rewards at the outset.
The result is that reasonable minds make decisions about the welfare of the students based on sound educational and motivational principles, instead of basing them in the heat of the moment so that when a situation presents itself, the decision is already made as to the consequences.
SAAS facilitates communication among the university constituencies so that everyone in contact with the student athletes understands their needs , understands how to meet them effectively , and speaks the same message regarding expectations of the student athlete.
This mutual and unified approach is the keystone to responsive support.
A Simple Truth: The discipline it takes for student athletes to attend class, attend study sessions, make meetings, and do the right things on campus carries over to the focus and discipline it takes to be successful on the field.
In his/her sport, an athlete learns a new play many times throughout a season. He/she must understand the concept behind the play, learn it, practice it, perfect it, and then implement it. The goal of mastering the play is to contribute to the team’s success. If the right practice is repeated over and over, the odds are good that it will.
The same is true for a new play in academics. In this program, we introduce, practice, refine, repeat, and implement the skills that are needed to be successful. And we repeat this strategy over and over so that it becomes a habit. Practicing these skills repeatedly leads to academic success. Vital components of the program are:
Individualized assessment and learning plans.
Goal-oriented tutor sessions that are catered to the subject matter and individual.
Consistent and immediate consequences for absenteeism.
Unanimous support of the process.
Constant communication with students, coaches, tutors, other athletic department personnel, etc. regarding academic progress, expectations, and challenges.
An environment that encourages independence, accountability, organization, and learning.
The SAAS advisor is essential to the program. The advisor implements the program through leadership, repetition, practice and follow-through. He/she is the primary liaison between the head coach, coaching staff, student athletes, faculty, and SAAS. The advisor is visible to student athletes and the coaching staff by attending practice regularly, home and away games, and meetings with students and coaches.
The faculty and college advisors respond to ongoing communications regarding student’s progress and academic standing. They also provide leadership in directing the academic development of the student athlete .
Coaches and other athletic department personnel are integral to the process, meeting with the SAAS advisor on a regular basis, enforcing the same consequences, and demonstrating their support by stopping by the study center.
Lastly, the student athlete needs to be consistent in his/her practice of attending classes prepared and on time, study hall x hours per week, tutoring sessions, and follow-through at all times. He/she is also consistent in meeting university obligations when they are due, returning phone calls, emails, and making meetings.
By providing student-athletes with care, concern, confrontation, and consequences, we create an environment in which they can succeed.