From the NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative
—Eleanor W. Myers
Eleanor W. Myers,
When friends and colleagues learned of my appointment in July 2006, to succeed JoAnne Epps as the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Faculty Representative, some were surprised. That is, those who knew me before my sports fan conversion were surprised. I have been a faculty member longer than I have been a sports fan. And I have been at Temple far longer than that. I would like to introduce myself to those of you who do not know me and tell the story of why I believe that athletics plays an important place in Temple’s mission and why we, as faculty—sports fans or not—should support and accommodate our student athletes.
I became a college sports fan for two reasons. First, Rebecca Alpert (Chairperson of the Department of Religion) invited me to join her at Temple men’s and women’s basketball games. I was enchanted by our student athletes, as I came to “know” them by attending more than one game. Second, my children experienced trouble learning in school in traditional ways. However, they were both good athletes. For them athletics was a venue where they could succeed and become respected outside the classroom. It provided a space, in school, for them to thrive on their own terms. Sports became a gateway to the classroom and ultimately to learning.
Of course, many of our student athletes are also fine learners off the field. However, some are not. Some struggle. For them, athletics is the gateway to college and we have an opportunity to help them succeed. John Chaney was fond of saying that if he could help a kid through college, he or she could change the course of a family. It is still true today.
Dawn Staley at the Third Annual
Dawn Staley Day
But not only is athletics a path to college for some of our athletes, it is also the portal through which many other children have an opportunity for their first exposure to college. If you have not experienced Dawn Staley Day at the Liacouras Center, you should take a look. Usually this women’s basketball game is free to the faculty. Buses from local schools line Broad Street and the arena is filled with young girls experiencing perhaps their first taste of college. The high pitch of the crowd noise is noticeable from their young voices.
I have worked at Temple since 1983, 13 years of which have been as a faculty member. I know Temple as a place that takes seriously its mission to educate first generation college students, from families who may not have had the means or opportunity for a college education. In my view, the education of many of our athletes is part of that mission.
What has surprised me since taking over the Faculty Rep position is the complexity of the lives of our student athletes. They operate under three sets of regulations. Of course, they have the same adjustments as all our students to college life, such as academic requirements, abiding by the Student Code of Conduct, and navigating, perhaps, their first time away from home. In addition, they are subject to complex NCAA regulations that cover everything from being taken to dinner by friends to participating in the March Madness basketball pools. Finally, they have their individual coach’s rules and requirements for practice and conduct. Ask any of the student athletes in your classes about their schedule and you will be amazed at the number of responsibilities they juggle.
There is a new framework in place in the Provost’s Office and the Athletic Department to assist our Student Athletes to fulfill their academic responsibilities and to assure academic integrity. Under the leadership of Associate Provost Peter Jones and Assistant Provost Chris Dennis, there are two full time advisors dedicated to academic advising for athletes—Kim Miller and Larrine Lodise-Gentry. They work in the Academic Resource Center under the able leadership of Director Karen Sofranko. Please contact them if you have questions or concerns about the addition or withdrawal of student athletes from any of your classes or other advising issues. The Athletic Department has a team of learning specialists and tutors to assist student athletes in their academic progress. This effort is led by Pete D’Alonzo. Please contact him if student athletes are not attending class or are failing to perform adequately in your classes.
I hope that you will believe, as I do, that accommodating the particular academic and logistical needs of our student athletes is part of our mission as educators. Our athletes contribute to Temple by creating an exciting environment for other students to be fans, and by diversifying the leaning community with their kinesthetic learning styles, their leadership training, and their focus on teamwork. We are richer for our athletic programs and our student athletes. And their academic success is also a tribute to us.
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