FROM THE CHANCELLOR
Academic and Athletics: Is there Common Ground?
Phil DiStefano, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
Since the spring announcement by our President and Chancellor that the Athletics Department would report directly to my office, I have been asked on many occasions if athletics belongs in Academic Affairs. Without hesitation, my answer is always an unequivocal "Yes."
Athletics should be integrated within the campus and especially within Academic Affairs. Our common ground is that we are both highly competitive organizations that value teaching and excellence. Our deans and department chairs compete for the best faculty and graduate students in the country; our coaches compete for the best student athletes in all sports across the country.
The deans and faculty study the rankings of our schools, colleges and departments each year in US News & World Report and other national outlets, just as our coaches study the various polls around the country that rank our athletic teams. What keeps academic administrators awake at night is the possible loss of an outstanding faculty member to another AAU institution. I'm sure that our coaches lose sleep over the possibility that one of their top players will transfer to another Big 12 campus or another major conference institution.
Competition provides a common ground between academic affairs and athletics; however, we must make sure that the student athletes we are recruiting are as serious about their success in the classroom as they are about their success on the playing field, on the slopes and on the court.
The first major step to integrate athletics into academic affairs was the establishment of new recruiting policies and practices. The recruiting policy is too long to include in this article; however, one section of the policy should be highlighted: Every prospective student-athlete visiting CU-Boulder will be evaluated by the Office of Academic Support Services for his/her potential for admission to the campus and by the director of enrollment management for projected performance as a CU student. Official visits will be structured to allow for a meeting by the prospect with an athletics advisor and/or a college advisor or professor. These discussions will focus on the prospect's academic goals and the University and NCAA requirements for academic success.
The second step in integrating the athletics department into the campus was to form an Academic Policy Board for Athletics that advises me on a wide range of departmental issues, such as admissions standards for student athletes, recruiting practices, hiring processes and long-range planning issues. Faculty members from across the campus make up the majority of members on this Policy Board in addition to athletics staff and students. My hope is that the Academic Policy Board will also help to restore confidence in the athletics department.
Finally, in the area of continuing eligibility, the NCAA has adopted a new policy to increase graduation rates. Student-athletes have five years to complete four years of eligibility and must complete 40 percent of their coursework toward degree by the end of the second year to be eligible for their third year of competition; 60 percent of their coursework toward degree by the end of their third year; and 80 percent of their coursework toward degree by the end of their fourth year of competition to be eligible for their final year of competition. In the same way, student-athletes must make yearly progress toward a GPA required for graduation.
In summary, we are making solid progress on incorporating athletics into the life of the campus. I would
like to extend my great appreciation to the members of the Academic Policy Board and all of the faculty, staff
and students who are helping us to achieve this significant change in our campus culture. Thank you.
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Academics and Athletics: Is there Common Ground?
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