April 14, 2011

Student-Athletes Need Academic Support

Academic support for student athletes today isn’t so much about supporting them, as just helping them survive, said Mary Brunk, a former student athletic manager for men’s basketball at Wake Forest, who is now assistant athletic director for academic services at Georgia Tech

As qualifications of regular students and student-athletes diverge, a greater percentage of student-athletes are at risk when they enroll in college. “At Georgia Tech, we see it as our responsibility to help student-athletes do more than survive. Unfortunately that is not the mindset across the country. The shift has gone from academic enhancement to remediation and survival. As standards for institutional eligibility have changed, we should have looked ahead to predict these types of concerns.”

Brunk said she doesn’t expect the situation to improve. “Because of the ‘arms race’ and economic drive that fuels basketball and football programs, I’m convinced that the populations in those sports will become more at risk.”

Academic support personnel, athletics administrators and coaches must work together to send the right message, she said. “It’s not a surprise that academic fraud is occurring at the rate that it is. Students coming in are underprepared, and the only mode of survival is doing whatever it takes to get by. Our job is to let them know that isn’t acceptable and give them other options. If we allowed them to be admitted, it’s our responsibility to make sure that they’re given the tools to be successful.” -- Kerry M. King

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