Semester conversion a pain for some coaches

by David La

The fast approaching semester conversion is designed to keep the University in step with the 80 percent of semester-based institutions across the nation; the four-year graduate is expected to once again emerge from the University shelf, and students from other schools will have easier times transferring here.
For some University coaches, however, the semester conversion will be a far cry from tranquility.
“I have to regroup our entire training strategy,” women’s swimming coach Jean Freeman said. “Now you stick a final week in what we call our hardest time of training, it’s totally opposite of what we’ve done.”
Freeman said she’s concerned that the curriculum change, which will cause the team to reschedule an annual training trip, could have a profound impact on her athletes’ performances at the Big Ten championships.
Previously, the team has left for its training trip right after the conclusion of fall quarter finals on Dec. 12th, and trained through Dec. 24th. The fall semester now ends Dec. 23rd, and as a result, the team must now make its trip in early January, which will push back by two weeks its normal preparation for February’s Big Ten championships.
The University’s quarter-to-semester conversion, which begins Sept. 7, breaks the academic year into two terms of about 15 weeks each, switching from the three 10-week sessions of the quarter system. Classes begin in the fall and end in the spring three weeks earlier, and the semesters will be divided with about three weeks of break during the month of January.
As with swimming, the conversion may also become detrimental to the outdoor track season in the spring.
“I think for track and field it creates a number of problems,” men’s track coach Phil Lundin said. “These are things that are going to have to be addressed forthrightly. There has been some things done and discussed, but the full ramifications haven’t been encountered yet.”
The ramifications Lundin is referring to include the conclusion of the spring semester May 13th, a crucial point of the outdoor track season in regard to preparation for the Big Ten championships.
“It’s going to create tremendous difficulty for us in regard to competitions leading up to the Big Tens, because of study days and exams during our weekends when we have to prepare,” Lundin said.
If coaches are concerned by what’s to come from the conversion, they are not alone. University administrators are satisfied with their preparations, but add that they are not 100 percent sure of what to expect.
“We’ve tried to be aware of everything that may come up, but I’m sure there will be some things that we didn’t anticipate,” said Donna Olson, senior associate director of women’s athletics.
One piece of good news is that the conversion of credits earned, a process crucial to ensure an athlete’s continued eligibility, is going rather smoothly, said Colleen Evans, senior academic counselor.
“For student-athletes in particular, the issues of semester conversion are that eligibility-wise we’re converting credits correctly,” Evans said.
But Evans and the other academic counselors are having some trouble preparing student-athletes for the change in class structure.
“It’s a little unknown for us as advisers to try to tell students what they can expect in their classes, because classes have had to be revamped,” Evans said.
The Minnesota Legislature along with the University Board of Regents decided in 1995 to convert to a semester system before the new millennium, and with the decision of that vote about to be put in motion, it is clear some coaches and administrators are still not completely on guard.
Junior swimmer Katy Christoferson may have summed it up for the majority of those whose jobs or educations will be affected.
“I saw all the reminders (of the conversion), and ‘Oh yeah, yeah, that’s so far away,'” Christoferson said. “Then all of a sudden, it’s here.”