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Carlson business school, Kinesiology are popular ventures for Gophers student-athletes

Of the 787 athletes listed on the Gophers sports roster with available major data, 87 are enrolled in business.
Junior Sydney Dwyer anticipates a catch during a game against South Dakota on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.
Image by Ellen Schmidt
Junior Sydney Dwyer anticipates a catch during a game against South Dakota on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

For many student-athletes, it’s business as usual — now and in the future.

Of the 787 student-athletes listed on the Gophers Sports roster page, 87 are enrolled in business majors. That makes business the most popular major for student athletes.

J.T. Bruett, director of the Lindahl Academic Center, said student athletes have an academic adviser in the athletics department in addition to their regular adviser.

“Our academic advisers in athletics work with campus advisers and the student-athlete to help them find the major that they’re interested in,” Bruett said. 

Thirty five student-athletes are majoring in kinesiology, according to the roster pages of teams. Nicole LaVoi, a lecturer in Minnesota’s kinesiology department, said people assume her students are athletes because kinesiology is related to sports.

“We don’t have as many student-athletes as people would assume,” LaVoi said.

Senior Sydney Dwyer, an infielder for the women’s softball team, majors in kinesiology. She said the material she learns in her classes is useful when she’s on the field.

“I want to go into coaching and strength and conditioning,” Dwyer said. “It’s good to know about your body and how it works with certain training and practices.”

Senior Ellie Cowger, an outfielder for the women’s softball team, majors in human resources and industrial relations. She said being an employee of a large corporation is like being a softball player.

“Employees are your team’s greatest asset. On the field, that’s the exact same thing,” Cowger said. “You can’t get anything done if there’s only four people on the field. It has to be all nine and even the entire team, not just the nine on the field, but the other 12 in the dugout that are working together and pushing the rock up the hill.”

According to Lydia Bell, associate director of the NCAA’s research division, business-related majors are the most popular major for student-athletes nationwide, with more than one-fourth of Division I male athletes and more than a fifth of Division I athletes majoring in a business-related field.

During the 2016-17 academic year, 92 percent of Minnesota’s student-athletes graduated, which is a school record. The women’s teams with 100 percent graduation rates were volleyball, gymnastics, hockey, basketball, soccer and tennis. The men’s teams that posted a perfect graduation rate were golf, cross country/track and field, gymnastics and tennis.

Bruett said student-athletes have to manage their time between academics, athletics and their personal lives.

“The biggest thing we work with them on is time management skills and the ability to carve out time for both their academic and their athletic pursuits,” Bruett said. “They have a lot on their plate to deal with, from practice and competition, traveling for competition, a full academic course load. They do a lot of community service as well.”

Cowger said she is fortunate to have enough time to manage her schedule as a student and as a softball player.

“My school schedule has not conflicted with softball. That’s been huge,” Cowger said. “Everyone is busy. Everyone has things outside of school that are important to them. Mine just happens to be softball.”

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