NCAA Division I and II Breakout
The Student-Athlete Experience
(Monday, June 10, 10:15 - 11:45 a.m.)
Dave Hart, Jr.:
I'm delighted to moderate a panel today on "The Student-Athlete Experience." It's a topic which is, personally, a high priority for me. Those of you who know me, know that is not a lip service comment. I think the student-athlete experience should be our highest priority as athletic administrators. I've seen a trend in that direction which is very encouraging. The student-athlete has to be the focal point of everything we do. I thought Tom Hill did an exceptional job of setting the stage for this panel today. Tom is a very bright and caring individual who has a handle on the reality of being a student-athlete in the 90s. I have said many times that we, not intentionally, confuse these young people who come to our campuses. They're 17- to 18-year old men and women. We tell them, almost as soon as they get there, you've got to be treated just like the rest of the student body. You're not special. Then, as soon as they go 50 miles per hour down the highway in a 35-mile an hour lane, we tell them, you can't do that. You're not like the rest of the student body. You're different. You represent us, the university. We confuse them to the point where I've actually had student-athletes say, "Hey, Mr. Hart, who am I? What are the expectations of me?" I thought Tom Hill did a good job of setting that stage.
Without question, student-athletes are held to a much higher level of accountability than members of the general student body. Yet, we are often hesitant to state that. The student body isn't held accountable to satisfactory progress, to summer school credits, not exceeding a certain number. As Tom Hill indicated, the members of the general student body are not in a fish bowl as it relates to their social behavior. That's all real and we owe it to the student-athletes to tell them this is how it is, but this is why it is and let us help you understand it. Let us help you get through it. We have an obligation in that regard.
The format today will consist of some verbal exchange among the panel about experiences they've had inside the athletic arena of competition, and most importantly, outside the arena of competition including relationships with peers, coaches, administrators, the Life Skills training they've had as student-athletes and what it meant to that growth of the total individual. The non-student-athlete members of our panel, coaches whom you'll recognize, and administrators, will offer insight into obligations they view that we have as coaches and administrators. They've played. They've been athletes and they've been there. They've watched the evolution of the student-athlete occur over the years. They'll try to touch on some current issues. Nothing is off limits to our discussion today. Issues may range from domestic violence, but what obligation do we have as an athletic department because we can set the tone. Our student-athletes can be role models.
We want to leave about 10 minutes at the end for audience participation. We have a very noted individual who said he would ask questions today instead of making comments. He has influenced more lives than anyone I can name in intercollegiate athletics. We have a lot of people here who can comment directly and indirectly on these things we're talking about.
Let me introduce the panel. We have with us Vince Dooley, who many of you know and have known for many years. Vince has played a key role in intercollegiate athletics. Grant Teaff is the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association and has a wide range of experiences. He has provided a lot of leadership and growth to that association. Jim Harley is the men's basketball coach at Eckerd College. The student-athletes who have been kind enough to join us today and are also taking part of the implementation of the Convention as interns. Cal Bowers who is a former student-athlete football player at Bowling Green; Lee Reed, a former student-athlete and basketball player at Cleveland State and Elizabeth Bartels, who is a junior at Rollins College and a softball player. I think they will offer the insight we need to open the floor up to some questions as we move toward that 11:00 hour. At 11:00 a.m., Phil Roach, the director of athletics at Rollins, will moderate the second segment, "Retention After Graduation." We hope all of you will stay for that, as well.
I'd like to call upon a person who has meant a lot to intercollegiate athletics, Vince Dooley. Vince has been around a long time. I remember watching him play when I was a kid. He has meant a lot to this profession, as a coach and now, as an administrator and a well-respected peer. It's my pleasure to bring up to kick off this discussion, Vince Dooley.
Thank you Dave. With that introduction, I can give you a little historical perspective. I've had the privilege of coaching over 55 years. That is not long by certain standards, but on the other hand, probably a good run. People have often asked me the question, they still do today, "do you miss it?" I'm able to say, truthfully, no. I suppose the reason is that I was able to coach as long as I did, I did everything that I really wanted to do in coaching and I left when I wanted to leave under the conditions that I wanted when I left, plus, I'm still involved and around. Now, do I miss some things? I truly do. I miss a lot of special things. I miss the camaraderie. I miss the thrill of victory. There's nothing like being in the locker room after a game you've won that maybe you were not supposed to win and to see that incredible camaraderie between the players, coaches, managers, trainers and everybody involved. That's a special feeling. I miss the close association with the players. I miss the opportunity to meet with a team and individuals and talk about the game and about how certain values that you can learn from the sport can be carry-over values; then, to just talk about something other than the sport, about how they're doing in school, about their future and what their dreams are.
Part of our commitment has always been to run a program that, generally when the players finish, they can turn around and say they have benefitted or they are a little bit better prepared or better off for doing what they're going to do after school and after sports than they were before they came. I suppose the special rewards of coaching, as it is with teaching, is to see former student-athletes that you had something to do with going out in whatever field it may be and succeed. At the same time, you feel the pain of those that maybe have not succeeded as well, but yet, still with the patience and encouragement, that maybe someday they will find themselves. It's a special thrill to see some of them come back because of their affection for the university and give back.
We had a fund raising drive several years ago to build a new football administrative hall of fame complex that cost $11 million and I was pleased that 60 percent of the funds raised for that $11 million came from former student-athletes including $100,000 that came from Hershel Walker. I was also involved in a fund raiser for the library, an endowment fund to raise $2.3 million, that I chaired. I was especially pleased that two of the teams I was associated with, championship teams, both the '66 and '68 team that Billy Payne was a part of, that they themselves, collectively, raised $100,000 for each team. Consequently, there's a room in that library named after those particular teams.
It was also our commitment to provide an atmosphere to try to help them help themselves. When we built this new building, as the athletes would come in each day, there was a space to the left as they walked in the door, that would provide an opportunity to display some motivational color illuminated sign or saying. The plan was that each month we would put a new motivation up there. The first one we put up was in the football complex and we showed an athlete a color illuminated picture of a football player that had just scored a touchdown and, consequently, this spontaneous excitement in which the player quickly raised his hands holding the football. Next to the football player was the same player in a cap and gown that was graduated. It depicted both success in athletics and success academically. At the bottom is that old saying, "If it is to be, it's up to me." Trying to make the point that we can coach you, we can tutor you and we can encourage you, help you, probe you, we can do all of those things that we need to do, but if it's going to happen, it's going to be up to the individual.
For all that we did in coaching, as I look back on it now, we really were only scratching the surface of providing the needs of the student-athlete, not only in football but, in all sports. Especially, the student-athletes of today, many of whom have not had the benefit of some of the perhaps good family backgrounds that I had the privilege of coaching. We've had to expand the services of coaching to make sure that we, and I, was personally involved in trying to make sure we gave the best possible preparation for the student-athlete, not only in the sport, but beyond the sport.
The first thing I do every year now, and maybe it's something all of you have done for many years, I wish I had done it earlier as an athletic director, is meet with each individual sports team as soon as they come back. We sit down in an informal way and try to get to know them by reminding them of their responsibilities as student-athletes, their visibility which, indeed, separates them from the rest of the students. They're not like the rest of the students because of that visibility and they have to know that and appreciate that. That is the price they pay for being athletes. And then, just talk about their responsibility. I always end by inviting them to come see me. I always do that and I never get anybody to come see me. I used to say that to all of the football players and the only ones who would ever come see me, were the ones who were in trouble. I always wanted somebody else to come see me.
I started meeting with them. Two years ago, I had to make a decision to make a change in the coaching staff that was not very popular with one of the players of the coach, which is the way it should be. So, this individual made some statement like, "I don't really know that athletic director, Vince Dooley. He said it publicly. It wasn't a shocking statement because it's very difficult, as an athletic director, to know every student-athlete. Yet, at the same time, it sent a message to me that I've got to do a better job of trying, myself as an athletic director, to be able to communicate to the student-athletes. The first order of priority is the team contact. Then, there are individual contacts, because every student-athlete that is recognized in any way, I ask them, through an appointment, to come and see me so that I can personally congratulate them.
We've always had, and I continue to have, what we call a little cheerleader entertainment at my home. I always had the cheerleaders to my home prior to the football season. When I became the athletic director, I didn't do that anymore. I asked myself, why not? So now, every year I bring them back for a kickoff of the new year. Everybody has a student-athlete council. We've been fortunate to have had one for a long time. I meet with them two or three times a year to discuss concerns they have. In each and every year, you can see they are more enlightened about what's going on. We have other programs such as our Post Eligibility Program where we bring the student-athletes back and provide for them financial assistance with tuition, fees and books in exchange for them providing commitments to do service in the community.
We've got what is known as a graduation breakfast. We'll have that this coming Saturday since we're still on the quarter system and, prior to graduation, all of the student-athletes that are graduating, and their parents will come by for a graduation breakfast. We'll have a chance to meet with them individually and meet their parents. We started an Honors Day where we bring all of the student-athletes who have won academic or leadership honors over to my house for a luncheon, including all of the seniors. It's an informal luncheon where they can go anywhere in the house and go jump in the pool, which some of them do.
We've got other programs such as the Directors" Honor Roll, where we recognize all of those over 3.0. There's a Directors' Academic Round Table. This is unique in that any student-athlete in whatever sport that earned a 3.0 in 15 quarter hours, that particular individual honor is based on the potential of that individual. It may not be an exceptional student, but it's a student that has far surpassed the predicted grade point of that particular individual. So, it's recognizing those who have strained their potential academically, more so, than just a scholar-athlete.
Those are some of the things we have done in recent years to try to do a better job in administering to our student-athletes. Why do we do all of these things? Each and every one of us, going back to the fact that as coaches and teachers, we'd like to see a student-athlete go out and do well. A special reward is when that individual turns around and comes back and says, "Thanks, coach." Those two words probably mean as much as any award anyone could possibly have. That's a special reward of being a coach, a teacher and an administrator. "Thanks for providing me some values and some thoughts and some things that have helped me in what I do."
Dave Hart, Jr.:
We are intentionally going to wait and let the student-athletes follow the coaches and administrators. I just very quickly want to play off a couple of things that Vince said. I said this to a group of business managers yesterday. My secretary knows, as director of athletics, there are only two times that, no matter what, I need to be interrupted. One of them is very obvious and that's, "the president wants to talk to you." The other is, "any student-athlete is here to see you." Because you can't tell them that you want them to be responsive to you and then have it become a lip service. I'll give you a great example. Warrick Dunn, who is a terrific young man and a wonderful football player stopped by my office the day before I left. At that time, I was scrambling. He came in and we had a great 45-minute conversation. The follow through is very important. Treat it as an appointment. Go to soccer practice for 20 minutes. Go to volleyball practice for 20 minutes. Treat it as an appointment. Get to know you student-athletes so you're not perceived as someone who sits in an ivory tower and says a lot of nice things. Our president, at our request, has agreed to host a very casual social gathering for all of our student-athletes in his home when they come back in August. How important is that? It's never been done. Our student-athletes think it's a real nice thing that they can communicate and interact with other student-athletes who are not necessarily their teammates. Don't wait until the exit interview to begin developing rapport and conversation with your student-athletes.
The next person I would like to call up to the microphone is Grant Teaff, who we all know and who doesn't need an introduction. I've heard Grant speak to this issue and he has some great things to say about it.
During my coaching career, I got a reputation for being a proponent of the student-athletes' welfare and it was by design. It did not just happen. I have developed, over a period of years, a deep concern for our student-athletes and I recognize the tremendous scrutiny and pressure they have, year after year, come under. As our society has changed, the student-athlete is scrutinized more than any person I know of other than politicians. They're all scrutinized pretty well. But, I wear that mantle as a proponent of student welfare proudly, because that's what it's all about, students and student-athletes. That's the reason.
Let me just mention some things to you just as a reminder. Some of the suggestions I'm going to have are for you to carry back to your coaches. I know the suggestions I'm going to share with you have worked in my own relationships. Like Vincent, I coached for 37 years. Everything is almost identical with Vince except two things I never accomplished. I accomplished everything else. I went out when I wanted to. I called my own shots and felt very good about that. Most of us in the coaching profession end up staying too long. I feel good about that.
I don't miss anything about coaching except that dealing with student-athletes. I have 10,000 coaches now that I deal with and many of them are growing and beginning to mature in the profession, so I get to spend a lot of time in helping them do their job better. I realize that effects like the pebble in clear water, it keeps on going. From that standpoint, I'm happy.
The two things I never accomplished are, number one, I never a national championship, and number two, I never got Vince to play me in Waco. I don't know why, but I never got that done.
The pressure student-athletes get from their own families and high school peers; I used to have more problems before bowl games, when my athletes would go home prior to our practicing and get with their student peers from high school. Coaches from high school remain an influence to the players. They're scrutinized by their high school coaches. At the university and college level, the alumni scrutinize them. They have to answer to their own college coaches. The athletic department has rules and regulations and the student-athletes are scrutinized daily by these rules, by their own teammates, the university police, university academic standards, university discipline, community, community police, community media. It's already been mentioned that a student-athlete can do something and its blaring headlines. Something done 10 times worse by another student is never mentioned. That's part of the scrutiny that goes along with it.
Scrutiny from the NCAA -- admissions, academic progress, work ethics and the standard of what they can do and what they cannot do, when they can work, when they cannot work. Other students are able to work and they're not able to work, loans, all of those things are scrutinized and regulated by the NCAA. Workout constraints. We think, through the NCAA, we have done a wonderful job in restraining their workout opportunities. There are a lot of youngsters that are not getting enough opportunity to work with the very people they need to work with, the coaches, so there is a restraint and a scrutiny there.
The drugs. During my last year as a coach, we had one youngster who fell into a particular category where he was, at random, picked, and had eight drug tests in one year. Now, you name me another human being in the society today that has eight drug tests in one year and I'll buy you the biggest steak dinner in this city. There's not one out there.
Agents have become a problem that's not regulated by the NCAA, although, we're trying. It's a tremendous problem. One of the things we're finding now, is that coaches who used to have influence with their players at a certain level do not. I have guys I coached 15 or 20 years ago who will hardly make a decision unless they call me and ask me about it now. We have youngsters being influenced by people that don't care about them, and yet, they don't understand that those people don't care about them. They're being influenced more by them than they are by the coach. That is, the agents, the runners and the people who are trying to enhance them and to pull them into this concept of making millions of dollars in pro athletics.
The national media has great scrutiny, particularly, Division I-A. All you have to do is turn around, read USA TODAY and Sports Illustrated and look at what they zero in on, what they'll take out of one particular program concerning two or three athletes and publicize it. Of course, there's always society. I could quote you statistics on the societal changes that will make the hairs stand on the back of your head. Since 1963, our society has gone down hill. All you have to do is look around. The young people coming to our colleges and universities are affected by that society. Not only are they scrutinized by this long list of individuals and groups I've mentioned to you, but the background they now have is so totally different. We have young people out there that are murdering young people. Pick up the paper in any city and I promise you, you're going to read a story where children have murdered other children. We live in a society where 80 percent of the young people in this country do not feel they have a positive male role model to look up to.
We're number one in this country in a lot of things, drug abuse, violence, children marrying children, teenage pregnancies, you name it and we're number one in all of the negative things. So, these student-athletes that we're bringing in are exposed to that kind of mentality. Well, it's obvious that none of us can change society with the snap of a finger. We didn't get in this position overnight. We're not going to get out of it overnight. That's a reality.
What can we do about it? What you can do in your place and in your position and with your people and with your student-athletes is a one-at-a-time deal. I believe there can be a positive change. I have no problem being recognized as a very positive person because I am. I've just spouted out a lot of negativism to you and I could go on for another 30 or 40 minutes just talking about that, but the concept of to take what we have and do something with it is a positive vein.
The first thing that I want to recommend to you is to get back to your coaches - all coaches, men, women, whatever sport, and express to them the importance of communication. It's already been mentioned, but communication is a difference maker. Communication builds trust. Communication recognizes honesty. Communication recognizes concern for welfare, concern for the individual. You may be the most concerned individual in the world and if you don't communicate that to the student-athlete, then he or she is not going to know. The same thing is true for the coaches.
One of the things you have to do for your coaches is to make sure they have the opportunity to spend time with their student-athletes. Coaching, now, is a changed profession. In football, and I can speak to Division I-A, but it's true in a lot of other areas, we can hardly get together for a meeting in the summer. Coaches have fund raising duties that last almost all summer long. Coaches have to spend time with alumni. Coaches are scrutinized, as well. So, there seems to be this pulling away from the opportunity to communicate on a daily basis with student-athletes. We have these fine offices and student-athletes prefer not to come there. One of the things I did when I started out, and it was one of the most successful things I have ever done, when I built new facilities at Baylor, was to take a little office right by the dressing room for the players. Every day, prior to the students coming over to dress, I was through with staff meetings. I didn't take any phone calls. I was in that office with the door open and those players got into a habit of coming in and speaking to me. If one of them missed a class that day and the professor called to let me know, I called him in and shut the door and communicated with him. He knew and understood that I was concerned about him going to class. I didn't give some assistant the job to run and say, "Look, you better get into class or the staff is going to be after you." I was after him that day in the right kind of way recognizing that communication is the key. If you don't let your coaches have the opportunity to communicate with their student-athletes, you're not going to have the kind of relationship you need to have and have to have.
In my 37 years of coaching, I found this important and helpful. Before we ever went to the NCAA with this concept of bringing the freshmen in three days early, I always did it. I did it from day one because I wanted to take the freshmen and teach them the things I thought they needed to know in order to get through college successfully. I started with leadership training techniques and concepts. I tried to make a leader out of every freshman that came on my campus. All of them weren't leaders, but I tried to make a leader out of every one of them. I exposed them to leadership techniques. I did it every year, without fail. Then, later, the NCAA said this is a good idea. Let's do this for all freshmen. I got to have the time that everybody else could have. I didn't have to take it away from the varsity, but the techniques were the same. I taught them goal setting. You've got to know where you're going if you're going to get there. Students come in and they have a distorted view of what the future holds.
Unfortunately, a high percentage of players who come to Division I-A have been told by the media and everybody else, that they're so great and that they think their going to be pro football players making millions of dollars, and the percentage of those guys making it is very slim. But, if they come in with that mentality and then end up four years later, and that's all they thought about and they get bashed across the face with the negatives that you're not good enough, then, where are they? My belief was that they prepare to be the most educated, best person, total rounded person they could be. Then, if the pros come, it's gravy. You can't do that by just going in with a 10 minute talk at the opening of the season. You have to sell that and you have to be consistent with it. You have to have the policies to apply to the goals. If you want a youngster to get a degree and you're serious and honest about it, then you have to provide him the tools. You have to provide him with the way to do that.
Motivation is a key. Self-motivation is one of the first things we taught. How do I motivate myself? First of all, you've got to know what you want to do and what you want to be. That has to do with goal setting. Once you learn to be a self-motivated individual, you can then become a person who is responsible for his own actions. Because your own actions relate to whether you reach your goals or not. Your own actions determine whether you're going to be successful down the road. Not somebody else's actions, you're own. So, if you recognize and understand that you're responsible for your actions, and your daily actions, you will reach your goals.
This is a great example. I always had every freshman write down his goals. Not just athletic, but in all phases. I think we fall into a trap when we start talking about goals athletically with youngsters. It has to be the total goals. What do you want to be after your education? What do you ultimately want to do? Then, what do you have to do on a daily basis to reach this? This one youngster's desire was to be a 4-A head coach in the state of Texas. That was his goal. When he was a sophomore, I had a problem with him in the dormitory. He was dropping water bottles on people and just disrupting things that would get him into serious trouble. I called him in. When he came in and sat down, I took out his goal sheet and told him to read it. I asked him if those were still his goals. He answered, "Oh yes, sir." I told him his goals would be disrupted because he was going to be expelled from the dormitory with his behavior. Once you're expelled from your dormitory, you're going to lose your scholarship and you're not going to graduate from Baylor University and you're not going to have the recommendation that I could give you having successfully played for me. "Oh, my gosh. I didn't realize that what I do today affects my goals for tomorrow." Well, I can report to you that young man has been successful in the state of Texas for the last four or five years.
You have to let your coaches communicate and work with those student-athletes on a daily basis. They have to see in the coaches, honesty and integrity. Coaches have to be the role models. Coaches have to reestablish communication. We've got to do that in the NCAA. We've got to find a way to help student-athletes. I have always said that you cannot pay student-athletes. I've always felt that way. I don't think it's the right way to go, but I do believe with all of my heart that we've got to find more ways to enhance the opportunity of the student-athletes to have the benefits other students have naturally. Thank goodness the NCAA is moving in that direction. We've had some good positive things happen. We want our coaches to be able to sit down with a student-athlete in football and say to that student-athlete, you need to be able to come to me and trust me. When these decisions come about somebody giving you $1,000 to sign with him and you're going to make yourself ineligible and you're going to cost your school and your teammates, you need to sit down and talk with me and see what the best solution to your problem is. The NCAA needs to move in a way so coaches can feel comfortable in solving those kinds of problems with student-athletes. We need to get real about that because it's a real problem.
Obviously, there's a lot to be said on the subject. The key for all student-athletes is communication. The key is really caring, not superficially. The key is having a plan and a program whereby they can come in and improve daily to reach their maximum potential and to reach the goals that they set for themselves.
Dave Hart, Jr.:
Thank you. I would like to interject a couple of things. It doesn't matter if you're Division I-A or Division II. We are in our first year at Florida State University with a football leadership team. Each position is represented by one player, chosen by his peers, to meet with us monthly to talk about whatever is on their mind. Issues. "Why can't we be paid? What's your view on that? Tell us what the NCAA thinks about it?" Fine, let's talk about it. Relationships with coaches. Let's open those lines of communication. Let's talk about your responsibility. Let's talk about the increase of marijuana usage on campus. You're the guys who can control it. It has been a terrific experience to talk to those members of that leadership team about anything from class attendance to any issues that might be on our mind. Again, it's communication.
Thank you very much. They said they wanted someone who had some ancient history to be involved in this program today. I've coached in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s and I'm a little bit worn out, but in a good way.
When we started our program in 1963 at Eckerd College and Florida College, athletic directors told us it couldn't be done. To take a job with no facilities, no money, no scholarships, a lot of things we didn't have, and try to make it work, and the president said it would be just what you make it. Well, it has been one of the most fun things I've ever done. I've tried to think about all of the things I've done in both basketball and baseball, but it's just been fun. It's been fun to go through all of those cycles of different students.
Today's student says it's the psychology of entitlement. I'm entitled to this. It's the '90s. I'm entitled to this. I had a student come into my office this week and say that he wanted the weight room open anytime he wanted it. We're open about six hours a day in the summer. I told him it's a privilege. We don't have a budget for that. He told me that he gets off work at 2:00 a.m. and wants to be able to come over then. He said he was entitled to that. I asked him if he thought the college should do that for him and he answered, "absolutely." They are so unrealistic sometimes when thinking about administration and what we have to do.
I have a young man who played basketball for us from 1965 through 1968, who now heads the Florida prison system. His name is Harry Singletary. Harry controls a billion dollars of Florida's tax money. He calls me. He stops by and visits. It's a relationship. I heard a speaker once say that rules without relationship lead to rebellion. Rules without a relationship. I have a relationship with so many players as a result of having been their coach, administrator and teacher while they were there. Loyalty is a tough, good subject.
This past year, I had a young man from Trinidad who couldn't understand how players have the opportunity to play. He would stand in line to shoot baskets in the outdoors where he was from. We've got four gymnasiums within a mile of our campus. He could not understand why players could not behave enough during the season. They would get involved with things along with the other students and he could not believe it. He thought he had a wonderful opportunity. He became an All-American player. He led our league and became the Athlete of the Year in our league. He was a physics major, graduated on time, is the all-time NCAA leading shot blocker. He has not had a story in the local papers except to talk about the inadequate situation he had in his breathing when he was a freshman.
The other day I got a call from the dean about a meeting we were going to have about date rape, alcohol abuse and AIDS. I said, "My Lord, I don't need all of that. That's too heavy for me. Let's talk about athletics." He said, "Coach, I'd like for you to be there." So, I packed up and went over there. I didn't want to violate my rules of survival. They are, never embarrass your dean and never, never embarrass your president and walk fast, they'll think you're busy. I asked the question, "What are we doing well?" We have graduated every single player who played four years for us. I think that's the one thing we're doing well. Now, coaches don't graduate people. All of us know that the faculties do that.
If you can get a faculty degree on anything as a group, that's a good accomplishment. But, we do recycle and we do try to do some things other than just athletics. One of the things we now have as a service is a Dream to Read Team. Getting the kids involved in elementary schools trying to get other kids to believe that reading is important, and it's fun and they need to do it. So, they need to be involved in things other than just their sport. They need to be involved in some service to the community, and yes, I think athletic scholarships are worth what they cost the university. I think students are obligated to do more, and even though we're trying to mainstream everything, they're a little special. You can't ask somebody to be a champion, play like a champion and treat them in any other way. I would hope that we would continue and not have our scholarships issues be the biggest item we have.
I like to say to players, we have a two-prong force here, a good student and a good athlete. I have never known a failure who was a good student and a good athlete. I'm sure there have been some, but I've never known one. Thank you very much.
Dave Hart, Jr.:
Now, I think the most important segment of this conversation will be the student-athletes. I'm going to ask Lee Reed, who is a former student-athlete, a former basketball player at Cleveland State, to address the group.
I'd like to give you a little background about myself. I played at Cleveland State University from 1979 to 1983. I had a tremendous experience there. I played basketball and had some great relationships with my coaches and administrators. I think sometimes we get caught up in all of the reforms and things that we need to do for the student-athlete without talking to the student-athlete. Early this morning, we had Mr. Payne come in and this place was packed with everybody who wanted to know about the great accomplishments she had. But, when we turn to dealing with the student-athlete, as a lot of times on campuses, the room is half empty. That goes a long way in showing people what happens and why we lose touch with student-athletes. Some of our administrators get lost, or they forget what they're actually in the business for.
I am now employed at Eastern Michigan University in athletics administration and I also serve as the special assistant to the president of the university. I'm able to now see it from both sides and have viewpoints that I didn't have as a student-athlete. I know that time is of the essence. There's a lot of things you have to get accomplished on your campuses. I know that when you walk into your staff meetings, you have an agenda and most of the time, that agenda has to do with raising money, improving facilities, etc. But, if you always keep in mind what the student-athlete gives to the university, how whatever you do, say, talk about in the newspapers, affect the student-athlete, it would be a much better profession.
I love this profession and the experiences I had as a student-athlete brought me back to this. I've tried several things in private business and I just didn't have the adrenaline. The love, the desire to be around athletics is as much as being in athletics. It's great to be around the kids, to see them prepare for a season, to see them grow. To see freshmen come in and have them grow to become seniors and responsible adults is something I take great pride in. I try to communicate with the players. I enjoy it when they come into my office and talk to me. Each time a student-athlete comes into my office, I keep it light and try to talk to them about things they are dealing with on a daily basis. I try to relate to the student-athlete. Like I said before, the time is tough and very limited, but when a student-athlete comes in and talks to you, you need to not only understand what he or she is going through at that time, you need to ask them about school and how they're doing in their classes, not just the superficial questions that we ask to get the answer that we want to hear. We need to dig sometimes and ask them, "Did you really talk to that teacher? You know you're going on a road trip next week. Have you made communication with that teacher and let them know what your plans are and gotten permission to be excused from that class?" Sometimes when we're busy in the hall, we'll walk by and ask them how's school? Every kid will tell you that school is great.
I have a seven-year-old son. He comes home from school and I ask him how was school today? He'll say, "School was great. Gym was great." He won't tell me about all of the other things. Now, when he comes home from school, I try to ask him about the books he's reading, the programs he's had and what he learned on the computer. I try to get into deeper questions that will make him be more responsible as he grows older. As college administrators, we need to do those same things. We need to take this portion of the meetings today seriously and try to understand.
I'm an older athlete. The younger athletes have a better understanding of what they're going through today. It wasn't as sophisticated even 10 or 15 years ago, when I played. We didn't have academic advisement and things that helped you through. We leaned on our coaches. We didn't have limits on practice time, etc. I don't know what I would do if I couldn't practice more than 20 hours a week. I love the game. I love being around it. The kids are playing 20 hours a week anyway. After practice, they go up to the rec and play with the students. At least they are in an environment that's safe for them. You think they're going to take all of that time and study. We know that's not true. Sometimes we have to look at these situations realistically. As you get older, it's harder to do that. I understand that. But still, you have to reach back and try to remember what it was like when you were in the arena and played and when you were younger and try to relate to the students today.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today. If I could leave you with one thing, it would be, in everything you do on your campuses, in your meetings, talking to your alumni, going to NCAA conventions and making legislation, remember the student-athletes and give them their due. Try to understand what they're going through and why they're selfish. There's not one person in here, that when they were 17 or 18 years old, they were not selfish. Of course, a student-athlete is going to be selfish. At that point in you life, you are. You're looking out for yourself and things that affect you. There's nothing wrong with that. You need to find out what they're going through on the campus and communicate with them. Thank you.
Dave Hart, Jr.:
As Lee indicated, he's had a chance to play in the '80s and now begin a career in administration. Our next panelist is Cal Bowers. I have an opportunity to serve on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee nationally and Cal was a member of that committee for the past two years. He has recently finished his career at Bowling Green and has a sense and a feel as he begins that transition himself and wants to pursue a career in athletic administration. He is beginning to have those perspectives that Lee just shared.
Thank you very much. It's an honor to speak in front of you. Some of Coach Dooley's remarks about what he misses most of all, camaraderie, I'm beginning to realize myself right now. I've learned a tremendous amount from playing football and being a student-athlete at Bowling Green. I've learned responsibility and dependability, both for myself and for others. I've learned how to dream and how to reach my goals. I've learned how to focus all of my energy on one specific goal and the other goals that come after that. Along with that, I've learned how to work with others to reach these goals.
As Mr. Hart mentioned, I am involved in the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a number of other committees. There's a lot of issues out there today that do affect the student-athlete, more so than a lot of the administrators think. We have our two meetings a year plus the convention every year. We sit down and go through each and every legislative piece that comes up. We deal with Division I, II and III members and it's tough sometimes because what affects me as a Division I student-athlete doesn't so much affect the Division III volleyball player. We try to collectively come to a point and decide what is good for the student-athlete. Is this rule, is this legislation good for us? We're able to speak on that.
I'll give you, the administrators and the NCAA credit because we're working toward fighting these problems that we are facing today and how to deal with them. The working during the season for the student-athlete who is on a scholarship was a very big issue. We've worked hard as a committee to lobby for this and we're starting to get some results. The agent issue is a big one. I'm a part of the Agents and Amateurism Special Committee with the NCAA. We're had two
meetings thus far. We have to come up with a solution. I don't know if there's anyone solution for the agent issue, but we're trying to work hard to come up with something to help fight this plague that is affecting the student-athlete and the institutions. It can bring them down in a hurry.
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has worked so hard over the past five or six years to build a good base foundation of getting our voice, the student-athlete, to the NCAA and the association. We represent over 300,000 student-athletes on this committee. It is sometimes tough to feel if we're representing everyone's point of view. We do our best. We want to make sure that, within the restructuring of the NCAA, we have this voice. We've lobbied hard enough to the point that we're starting to get some recognition and that's important. We're going to keep pushing and, eventually, we'll get more power for the student-athletes because, as Lee pointed out, all of you have jobs because of us. We're the student-athletes who you're working for. I know the institutions you're working at, you're trying to raise money, support your family, but you're also working for us. We appreciate this and we know you're working hard. Keep in mind that you're there to help us out and I know 99.9 percent of you understand and are doing this. There is a percentage out there that doesn't realize the student-athlete is the most important thing within the NCAA. We're trying to get that point across.
Now, how do you help the student-athlete? One of the biggest things going on in the NCAA now and I've had a chance to work with, is the Life Skills Program. A lot of schools have the Life Skills Program, but there are schools out there who don't have the resources. You have to make due with what you've got. You administrators are the most important part of that.
Thank you very much for your attention. I'm very proud to be here and I look forward to speaking with you down the road.
Dave Hart, Jr.:
I can tell you, being in some meetings with Cal, that he is never shy. This is one of the reasons we wanted him to speak on this panel about stating his opinion and I admire that. He's also a good listener as are many of the people on that committee. They are willing to listen and we are willing to educate.
Our final member of the panel is the current student-athlete I mentioned in the beginning. She is a softball player at Rollins College. Phil Roach, your athletic director, said you were a little nervous, but you'll be fine by the time you're speaking.
Thank you. I guess I'm nervous because I didn't know I'd be talking in front of this many people. When I was trying to decide to go to college, I was looking to play basketball and softball and go to a school that is good academically. Division I schools didn't give me that opportunity, but at Rollins College, I had that opportunity to play basketball and softball and it's a very good academic school.
During my freshman year, I played basketball and softball. I felt there was too much of a demand in both sports, so I wasn't able to give my all to both sports. At the end of my freshman year, I had a tough decision between the two sports. I felt I could give more to softball, so I perceived that and had a very good year this year.
What I've learned through sports is how to set goals and set goals with the team and coaches. The main thing I've gotten out of sports is how to balance between academics and athletics, the responsibility I had to my team and to my coaches. You have shown me that anything is possible. With two years left, I have many more goals to achieve, and hopefully, I'll be able to achieve them.
I really believe my athletic experience has been good due to the athletic directors putting emphasis on, not just winning the national championship or the title, but on communication and responsibility that you have to the school and to setting goals and achieving them. Thank you.
Dave Hart, Jr.:
We have a few minutes before Phil comes up and rolls into retention after graduation.
I think this is a very fine program and it's sending us all back home with questions and some of the answers that we need to know. I've been in it for 54 years and I don't really have all of the answers. I've seen them in the '40s, the '50s, the '60s, and coming down to today, we've heard programs like this and we've tried to listen to what we hear. I've heard each speaker and I've taken notes on what they've said. I will go back and try to use whatever we have at Grambling. We've done so many things ourselves. We have counselors handling the students. Because of what you said about communication and about caring about them, but as Coach Teaff said, sometimes the NCAA worries when you care too much about them.
We meet more than any other group on our campus and we talk about things. People think you're always talking about winning. We try and talk about passing because today, now with the problem we're facing, people will be more concerned about themselves in passing their classes. This is what is worrying us so much now. You're afraid to go to the teacher. If you go to the teacher and say, work with them, they get the wrong connotation about what you're really trying to say and what you want them to do.
We wake our football players up and we want them to be in the cafeteria from 7:00 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. Well, we tried that and we didn't have too much success. So, we went back and took their meal cards and ID cards. If they didn't come get their ID cards, they couldn't eat until the next morning. We tried that. It's just a matter of listening to people and trying everything you can to get them to listen to you. They'll try to beat you. We love them and we want them to graduate.
I believe we are going to have to come to a point where we'll have to make the dormitory much like a home should be. We used to have kids come from broken homes. Now, you have kids coming in whose parents aren't married. You have everything coming in. When you bring in a kid from Chicago or New York or California, they bring in different things with them. You have to be concerned about them.
I have never been as mixed up or concerned as I am today because sometimes it looks like you won't be able to put 22 guys on the field because of going to class and caring about class. I've never walked down this street before with the athletes. They feel that they can make a lot of money in pro ball, but I believe we have to continue to tell them that a person with athletic ability and a degree will be a more attractive person. If the kid plays for you and doesn't graduate, he is the loser. If you are really concerned about it, this is the time to do something about it.
If we could put better trained people in the dormitory to have these study periods and to talk with the students, I would like to hear from any of you with some ideas. We need our student-athletes. I need the football players. Without them, I don't even have a job. I'm here to see what you are doing about your student-athletes and I would like to hear from anybody who has anything to tell me. Thank you.
Dave Hart, Jr.:
Thank you Coach. As Eddie said, he's coached over 50 years. He had an assistant that was with him for 40 years. Grant Teaff asked him why he would be with Eddie for 40 years. He said Eddie told him he was going to retire and I could replace him.
I appreciate all of your participation. I'll ask Phil Roach to come up for the second segment, "Retention After Graduation."
We'll begin, thank you very much. My name is Phil Roach. I'm the director of athletics at Rollins College. Our responsibility today is to bring to you some discussion about the retention of the student-athlete. When we were planning the program this past February and announced that the student-athlete would be the topic of the day, we began to talk about after, or the exit interview as a senior and what goes on from that point forward. A lot of discussion occurred about how we keep track of the student-athlete after she or he leaves the campus and what responsibility we might have as an institution to that student-athlete and vice versa.
As we divided this panel, we decided to make it just like it's being presented to you today, the Student-Athlete Experience while they're in college and then, afterward.
In talking around the country, as I did between that time and today, I found it's all over the park at your institutions as to what you're doing with regard to keeping in touch with the student-athlete after graduation. But there is a common theme and that is that we need to do more and we need to do it better. With our panel this morning, we thought we'd bring to you a couple of recent graduates, what their experience was in college and maybe we could learn a little bit about what their "hot" button is. That is what they expect from the institution. What was so good about their experience there and what they want to continue, what kind of camaraderie they're hoping for, what they expect in terms of giving back or an association with the institution. Then, we wanted to look around the country to see what some places are doing, how they're filling the need, what kind of programs they have and we've done that hoping to get a different mix of people and institutions to do that.
On my left is Laurie Montgomery, who is sports information assistant and marketing assistant at Butler University, a major Division I institution. Adjacent to her is Mary Denkens, who is at Duke University and chairs their Varsity Club. To my right is Gregg Darbyshire. Gregg is an athletic director at Kings High School in Ohio. He played at Miami University and also has the experience of being at another institution. He's been part of a couple of championship teams in NCAA basketball. To his right is Stacy Moss, who is a national champion in Division II tennis at Rollins College and is now a teaching pro in Miami. To her right is Jim Frazier, who is the athletic director at Missouri Southern State.
Those are the people who will be talking to you this morning. I thought we might start with the student-athlete who is just out of school. Gregg will talk to us about his experiences and what he thinks an institution ought to be doing in terms of the student-athlete's retention.
Thank you very much. It is, indeed, an honor to be here today and have this opportunity to talk with you. Briefly, I'll give you my background. I signed a basketball scholarship at Kent State University in 1989. I played there one year before transferring to Miami University, where I played until 1994. I had the opportunity to play for three different coaches in college and also had three different athletic directors.
That's one of the issues that needs to be addressed, from my perspective, especially in Division`I, is the turnover in coaching and administration. The first time you realize how much you enjoyed your experiences as a student-athlete is when you go back to the first game. You look out there and you're not there anymore. You feel that need that you want to be a part of it. All of you know, from being student-athletes and administrators, the commitment you make and the time you spend separates you from other, regular students on campus. This, in turn, makes you appreciate your experiences as a student-athlete. Therefore, it's important to me that I can maintain some kind of contact with Miami University.
One thing they did for us, and I'm sure many of your institutions do, they gave us the Miami Tribe membership card. The benefits of that weren't very exact, but we came back the next year and Mr. Hyman, the athletic director at Miami, has really made an effort to get in contact with the former student-athletes. They sent out a publication which is called Smoke Signals. I thought that was a good step. Many of you depend on former student-athletes to give back to your institutions as far as fund raising. The more involved they make me feel personally, would make me more apt to give money. That's very important.
The most important person in my life as far as Miami goes, was Coach Sendek. I had the opportunity to be his first senior. He's really great about being in contact since taking the job at North Carolina State. He's called me a couple of times and has written to me. I think that's important, but one of the biggest issues is going to be that he's gone now. He had us back to the athletic banquet this year. My roommate, another senior, and I went and thought it was very special, but now that he's gone and we have a different administration and different coaches, that changes everything. That's an issue that needs to be addressed. I thought Mark Price, when he spoke at the NACMA luncheon, had a great idea in developing some liaison between the athletic department and the student-athletes, not just alumni, but specifically, student-athletes. Whether it's having a function at the games, but something to bring us back into that realm. It's very important and something I'd be an advocate of. Thank you.
Thank you Gregg. Obviously, he's identified a point that we all need to make note of and that is the contact with the coach is most intimate and certainly one the student-athlete hopes will continue. We know that coaching is a profession that's turning over a lot. Maybe, that liaison is something we ought to consider.
Stacy, how about you coming up and telling us what your experiences and hopes are.
I was a little more fortunate than many students because I got both the big school experience and the small school experience. I transferred from the University of Florida where I played for two years. I then transferred to Rollins College, which has a very small intimate setting. I had just a fantastic all-around experience. It was like a family environment at Rollins with Dr. Roach as my AD and Coach Buckley. I felt I was really cared for and looked out for. Athletes there really do feel special and are recognized for their accomplishments and the extra time they do put in. We are different from the mainstream students. We want to be treated the same, but we do have to give much more of our time. The key thing I learned from athletics is to budget my time.
I wasn't just the regular student who studied and worked hard, but I also devoted a great deal of time to tennis, which I loved and wouldn't trade for the world. It taught me how to selectively budget my time and to allot certain time for priorities. You definitely need to prioritize what was most important. Athletics was always at the top along with my academics. I was very into school. I enjoyed my classes and I want to go on to graduate school someday, not just now.
Tennis has taught me a great deal, especially how to deal with people and to communicate with those around me. After I graduated, I was concerned about losing touch and forgetting my experience. That hasn't been the case at all. Immediately after graduation, I went up there the entire summer, saw the president, the coach, Dr. Roach, and it was important to me to keep that contact with them. Just getting a friendly letter every few months, renews my faith that I'm remembered and Rollins will always hold a special place in my heart. I think, like Greg said, it is vital to keep in touch with your coaches. To lose touch would make me feel that my experience wasn't worthwhile, but I know in my heart it was. I would never give it back for the world.
Even now, being here today, helps me feel I'm part of the student-athlete experience. It would have been a very different experience if I wasn't an athlete at school. I am honored to be here and I thank you.
Trying to keep in touch with the student-athlete after they leave is tough, particularly after the first year. They move and don't give you the forwarding address. That's one of the obstacles we're trying to overcome at Rollins. Here are some of the things we're doing at Rollins that we haven't done in the past to try to solve this problem.
This year, when we had our Senior Exit Interview, instead of doing that on an individual basis with our faculty members as we've done in the past, I brought all of the seniors together in one room to talk to them about the college and their experience, etc. It worked out very well. They took a written interview at that time and then had separate verbal interviews with faculty members later on. At that interview, I congratulated them on their accomplishments. When you put four years together and all of the accomplishments together of your various teams, it's astounding. They, themselves, were pretty impressed with what they accomplished. I tried to give them a very warm feeling about what they had done at the institution and how important they were.
To further compliment that, I began to give them the commitment the institution had given them over the four years. If we begin to add up the athletic budgets over four years and multiply those numbers out and present them to those athletes, they begin to see something haven't seen before. That is, the obligation the institution had put on the intercollegiate program, on them, the student-athlete. It is an astounding amount of dollars when you talk about that. It's an astounding amount of staff time and effort even compared to the institutional budget. Again, trying to make them feel important and embraced and empowered.
Our Tars Booster Club, for the first time this year, made them automatic booster members for the first year. I encourage them and this is where we attack the change of address thing to keep us posted as to where they were. We were going to be sending them information and newsletters over the course of next year and we wanted to make sure they could keep up with their teammates, how their teams were doing. The only way we thought they could do that effectively was to just keep us posted on where their address change might go. We don't know how that's going to work, but we're certain that it will work better than it has before.
Before, we'd just been working through the development office and many of you at the Division II level may have been doing the same thing, using their codes and computer systems to reach our student-athletes. It hasn't been a very good system in that anybody, it seems, could say they were on a team at the exit interview with the development office and the rosters just weren't very accurate. We also wanted to know what athletes had been on scholarships and what athletes had not over the past years. This year has been a year for us to get this up to speed and we've done a lot better.
The theme for us at Rollins is to try to keep in touch with your family. Keep in touch with your team. That's going to be the theme we're going to use to try and keep our athletes in touch with the institution.
I was talking to Jim Frazier earlier about the same thing. They're at the same place. They're trying to identify what we can do to keep these people going. He's at a Division II institution like Rollins. We don't have a large staff, but we have a large need. He had a great idea as to what they've done and he's going to share that with you to keep in touch with former letter winners.
Thank you very much. My role would be how to coordinate and staff special events at Missouri Southern. We're located in the city of Joplin at an institution of 6,000 students. We were founded in 1968. We are Division II and we have a limited staff. We have no graduate school. We have 15 intercollegiate sports. We fully fund three of the 15. We use a lot of volunteer and part time help at Missouri Southern. Some 15 years ago, I approached the Agency of Aging in an effort to identify retirees that would be interested in being associated with young people on our campus and help us out. It really didn't work out for me with that approach, but the concept has worked out. Last evening, I had 18 part time volunteers that I will call either senior citizens or retirees. These are individuals who do a great deal for us in the maintenance and functioning of an athletic year during the academic year for us. We use security in ticket taking and they do a lot for us.
We have a recent retiree of a sports writer of 40 years in our city newspaper. He has joined our organization and his role is to make contact and organize our alumni. This is all he does. We are accustomed to bringing back for a 20-year reunion all national champions and conference champion athletic teams. This next fall, we'll bring back our 1976 football Central States Intercollegiate Conference championship team and that will serve as a model for us, if you will. Because, what we want in 1998, is that we will bring back all of the athletic teams that participated in Missouri Southern which, in 1968, was the first year of four-year athletics. We'll bring back the 68, 78 and the 88 teams alumni in 1998. We'll turn around and follow up and do an identically same thing in 1999, with 69, 79 and 89. This will be an ongoing effort on our part to allow our alumni to return to our campus, give them the opportunity to be together. We'll have special seating for football and we talk about the rowdy students, well, we may have some rowdy alumni as well. We're excited about this.
Timing has a lot to do with it. If you know someone that's been interested and involved in your program and has recently retired, give him nine to 12 months. His wife will give you $200 a month to get him out of the house. That is really the way it works. They're anxious to find something to do. They're anxious to be a part of something and we're very happy to have them. I had one wife indicate to me that she is 60 years old and she didn't know what to do with a first grader following her around the house. Get him out of here and keep him busy.
Last and least, the wife of the most recent person to join us said she was so excited. "I get him up at 10:00 a.m. and I send him to play school. We thank you, Jim, for finding him something to do." Thank you.
Our last panel member is Mary Denkins from Duke University. It seems to me Duke is doing as good a job as anybody, particularly, in the area of where your student-athletes are after graduation.
Thank you. It's nice to be here. I do have a funny story. I graduated from Duke in '72 and worked in the football office while I was a student. I then began working there for the next 22 years. Of course, I knew most of our athletes. We had just switched football coaches and Tom Butters came over to talk to me. The phone was ringing and I had lots of work on my desk to do and when I could finally get off the phone, I said, "If you're going to fire me, there's not anybody who wants to finish the work I've got on this desk to do today." He said, "No, that's not it. I'm trying to give you the job that was meant for you. I think you've done enough favors for every one of our former athletes that if you went to them and asked them for money, they couldn't say no." I said, "Is that right." You know, it used to be legal for you to type papers for kids. So, I became the director of the Varsity Club. The directors before me had an organization in place. I couldn't mess up. In the nine years the Varsity Club has been at Duke, we managed to be in contact with over 95 percent of the former athletes at Duke. More than half of them have contributed financially. More than that, they have participated in events, from alumni dances to receptions around the country.
We try to endow the operating budget of each sport. It gives you a chance, if you really do love tennis, to give, not only back to your school, but back to your sport and not feel that it's going to another program that might need it a little more. I think that more than the actual financial benefit, our Varsity Club at Duke has been a network of communication.
We give a complimentary membership for a year. That means you're going to get three newsletters from your head coach, or the new head and you're going to find out what's happening in your sport. You'll also get a subscription to the Blue Devil Weekly. That's our weekly sport magazine that includes a page from the Varsity Club that lists where athletes are now and what they're doing. It includes pictures of our parties and receptions so that it looks like, if you don't come back to Duke and you don't get involved, you're going to miss out on a lot of fun. We also mail the media guide for each sport to the members of our club and to people who have just graduated the year before.
The minimum donation we like to get is $250 a year. For the first five years after you graduate that is kind of steep, so you continue to be a complimentary member, or a member at half price. Several members have gotten so involved and decided they want to become endowed scholars. Actually, over 30 former athletes at Duke have now given over $100,000 to endow scholarships. This makes them feel they still do have a place at Duke. They'll have a place to visit when they want to come back to town.
We also give our seniors from the Varsity Club a ring that is presented to them at a President's Dinner when our president thanks each athlete for their contribution. We have a senior's picnic that's lots of fun. By the time you have graduated, the people in our Varsity Club office know you well enough that, even if your coach leaves, you'll have somebody that will be there to call back. The one thing I hope everybody can feel when they graduate from Duke is that they're on a team forever and it's our Varsity Club team.
Thank you Mary. This concludes our panel. Rather than hold you up for discussions, we'll stay up here and if you want to ask questions, we'll be here to answer them. Thank you all very much for your attention.