December 13, 2016

Athletes miss class time, still get quality education

By Abby Burton

Kevin Blackwood, a junior Communication and Business Administration major at Cleveland State University and a member of the soccer team, finds himself missing one or two classes each week when his sport is in season.

“We practice from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., so no one on the team has classes at that time,” Blackwood said. “But sometimes when we have games at home, we normally play at 7 p.m., but we have to be at the field by 5:45 p.m., so if you have a class from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. [or later] you’re going to miss that class.”

Blackwood is one of the many student athletes at Cleveland State who misses classes because of their sport.

According to an article from CBS News that broke down a survey by the National Collegiate Athletic Committee (NCAA), Division I men’s basketball players spend an average of 39.2 hours per week on their sport and women’s basketball players spend an average of 37.6 hours. The average across all Division I sports for men is 35 hours and 33 for women. 

This seems to be accurate at Cleveland State, according to Lisa Hehman, the coordinator of student athlete affairs and the academic adviser for the men’s basketball team and the men and women’s tennis teams.

“We have to remember that student athletes basically have two full-time jobs,” Hehman said. “They have a full class schedule and a full-time sport, which is basically like work. It is at least four hours per day that they dedicate to this sport and then they travel with it, too.”

Athletes at Cleveland State aren’t left alone to deal with their difficult schedules, according to Hehman. They are provided with an academic adviser who pays extremely close attention to their grades, attendance and participation in their classes. These advisers also help student athletes get their work done while they are traveling during their sport’s season.

“There are four athletic academic advisers, the fourth one being added this semester after lacrosse was added and wrestling was kept,” she said. “We are very intrusive academic advising, probably not what the average student experiences on the campus — we are much more intrusive and much more hands-on.”

The athletic academic advisers are in constant contact with their athletes’ professors to make sure that they are on track in their courses.

Student athletes also have a required specified study hall during their freshman year, or in their first semester if they are a transfer student, according to Hehman.

“All freshman must have a study hall period, regardless of their capabilities,” she said. “Then, depending on your performance level, that amount of time could be decreased if you are independent or increased if you are struggling.”

All of these things are in place to make sure that Cleveland State’s student athletes remain within the guidelines of eligibility set by the NCAA, according to Hehman.

The two-inch thick book rested within arm’s reach of her desk with the academic eligibility requirements bookmarked.

“Challenges exist for every student on [Cleveland State’s] campus in different ways, and student athletes just have different things to worry about than other people,” Hehman said. “I don’t want anyone to think that we think student athletes have it harder — it’s not — it’s their choice. They made the choice to be a student and an athlete, and we are here to support them in that endeavor and make sure they can accomplish it all within the rules [from the NCAA.]”

With the added stresses of being a student athlete, Blackwood says he would still choose to play soccer if he could do it all over again because he learned many skills through playing his sport while pursuing his degree.

“Being a student athlete has its pros and its cons, but it is going to benefit you in the future,” he said. “It teaches you time management, how to budget and how to take care of yourself. I’m here by myself, my family is back in Jamaica, so I have to learn all of this on my own and being a student athlete helps.”





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