The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

92° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Program helps balance sports, school”

Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Tomaz Bogovic, left, an undeclared sophomore, Ariel Coleman, a psychology sophomore, Taylor Freeman, a business sophomore, Armand Rhone, a pre-business sophomore, and Jordan Ronstadt, front, a physiology junior, pay close attention to a guest speaker during Rock and American Popular Music (MUS 109) on Monday, Nov. 23. The class mates are also teammates on the UA track and field team.
Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat Tomaz Bogovic, left, an undeclared sophomore, Ariel Coleman, a psychology sophomore, Taylor Freeman, a business sophomore, Armand Rhone, a pre-business sophomore, and Jordan Ronstadt, front, a physiology junior, pay close attention to a guest speaker during Rock and American Popular Music (MUS 109) on Monday, Nov. 23. The class mates are also teammates on the UA track and field team.

Commitment to Athletes’ Total Success, or C.A.T.S, consistently tries to raise standards for academics among athletes through offering tutoring and advising that better allows athletes to manage their schedules.

In March of this year, the Arizona Daily Wildcat reported that graduation rates of UA athletes ranked fourth-worst among schools that advanced to the 2009 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The study, conducted by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, considered whether freshmen who started school between 1998-99 and 2001-02 earned diplomas within six years.

Currently however, academics among athletes seem to be improving. C.A.T.S. has instituted a number of programs to help improve academics among athletes for the future.

“”Our mission is to ensure that student athletes handle the transition from high school to college and that this transition is as smooth as possible,”” said Mike Meade, director of C.A.T.S. Academic Services. “”We wish to provide athletes the tools and resources needed given the taxing time demands split between academics and sport.””

C.A.T.S. no longer reports to the UA’s athletic department. Instead, C.A.T.S. reports to the Division of Student Affairs. Meade says this allows for more academic support on campus outside the athletics department and maintains communication between the athletic and academic sides of the university.

The reports of low graduation among athletes were for students who are “”long gone”” from the school, and since then, the academics among athletes have improved, according to Meade.

A new measurement for athletes’ academic success has become available since those reports came out, the Academic Progress Rate. The report, instituted in 2005, measures teams based on athletes’ academic progression from semester to semester, retention of athletes within a given program and the graduation rate after five years, according to Meade.

“”It’s a better indication of how athletes are doing,”” he said.

Collegiate teams that fail to achieve a score of at least 925, or a 50 percent graduation rate, can be penalized, according to National Collegiate Athletic Association. A perfect score is 1000.

The UA men’s cross country team posted a perfect score of 1000 in the report posted on May 1 of this year, earning them the Public Recognition Award. However, men’s football received a score of 924 in the same report, one point shy of what was needed to pass.

Meade is optimistic for the coming report in May 2010. “”We’re looking healthy in the classroom,”” he said.

C.A.T.S. utilizes methods to maintain academic success among athletes. It monitors the academic progress among athletes on a regular basis, and professors of athletes are required to give updates on student athletes at least twice during a semester.

“”C.A.T.S. is a huge help,”” said women’s soccer player and physical education junior Alex Davis. “”For freshmen and sophomores, there is planned and scheduled study hall and it really helps you prioritize when you get to college. The advisors are awesome, and we get both educational and sports advisors, and it’s good to get opinions from both.””

Meade also praised the advantages of C.A.T.S.

“”Student athletes are held to higher standards and require close attention,”” said Meade, “”So if a student dips (in grades) we know about it before things get beyond repair.””

C.A.T.S. offers athletes a study table, in which athletes are taught time management and prioritization, and even requires athletes to maintain study calendars to keep up with schoolwork that needs to be completed on a given day.

“”Not every athlete has study hall, but the ones who do are in it for six to eight hours per day with a mentor,”” said Geoff Embry, men’s tennis player and family studies junior. “”It’s awesome to be able to get your work done and not have that much to do when you get home.””

Meade said an athlete’s transition to college can be difficult.

“”When student athletes arrive to school in their first semester — and I think this is generally true of most students coming into college — their study habits are insufficient for the college workload,”” said Meade.

C.A.T.S. also offers content tutoring with tutors who specialize in certain challenging subjects such as math, economics, foreign languages and others. They even have a satellite writing team that works out of C.A.T.S. and is trained by the writing program for athletes who can’t find time in their schedules to visit the Writing Center, Meade said.

The C.A.T.S. Life Skills program is designed to help athletes become more active outside their academic and athletic work.

“”We want our athletes to be ‘life champions,’ said Becky Bell, associate athletics director and director of Life Skills. “”We want them to get more involved and take more initiative for a broadening university experience.””

Life Skills encourages athletes to get involved with internships, volunteer in the community and do things that go beyond the normal athletic and academic requirements to ensure a better resume when they graduate.

“”Do a little overtime and you’ll be prepared when you graduate,”” said Bell.

Athletes involved in the Life Skills program have received numerous awards over the years, including three this year. Lacey Nymeyer of the women’s swimming team was awarded NCAA Woman of the Year, Craig Sheedy of the men’s diving team was awarded with the NCAA Walter Byers Award and freestyle swimmer Justine Schluntz received the University of Arizona Senior’s Award, as well as being named a 2009 American Rhodes Scholar.

The Woman of the Year award is the third of its kind awarded to a University of Arizona student since 1994. No other athlete at a Pac-10 school has received that award, according to Bell.

Many students on campus seem to believe that student athletes have it easier than non-athletes. Classes like History of Rock and American Popular Music have many athletes in them, but this is most likely due to the fact that athletes get priority registration and are able to sign up for classes first. This class in particular is not seen as an “”easy A,”” but instead a class that generally all students on campus are interested in.  Embry said other popular classes include astronomy, oceanography and nutrition, none of which are traditionally “”easy”” courses.

“”I don’t like the fact that students think athletes have it easier academically than other students,”” said Embry, “”It’s not like there’s any professor who’ll grade us easier because we play sports.””

Meade said that being a student athlete has its challenges.

“”There’s a perception that athletes get more perks than other students,”” Meade said. “”But they have demands placed on their time. The glamour of being a college athlete is not what it is perceived to be. They have three hours of practice, weights and by the time they shower and have dinner by 7 p.m. they still have not even gotten to their school work.””

Athletes are given priority registration because they need to plan their school schedules around an already-rigid sports schedule.

When asked about the stigma of athletes having an easier time than other students, Davis said, “”Yeah, we get it. But it doesn’t bother me because I know we work hard, when our grades are poor we can’t play.””

More to Discover
Activate Search