U helps athletes manage schoolwork

Lora Pabst

Students cannot miss a class or test for just any reason.

The University has a policy on what constitutes an excused absence, and intercollegiate athletic events apply under this rule.

University policy allows student-athletes to miss nine days of class a semester.

If these excused absences fall on a test day or an assignment due date, it is up to the student and professor to coordinate the student’s athletic and academic schedules.

The Faculty Academic Oversight Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics makes sure sports teams stay within the limit of travel days, and a team isn’t missing the same days of class all the time.

Perry Leo, professor in the department of aerospace engineering and mechanics and committee chairman, said students and professors usually will arrange for a student to take a test or turn in an assignment early. Sometimes students are allowed to make up tests after the scheduled date or take them on the road. Student-athletes might also be eligible to turn in assignments later.

“You make arrangements to get that assignment later or take the test on the road,” Leo said. “Not all faculty like to do that, but the great majority do go out of their way to help student-athletes.”

Professors are required to accommodate any student who falls under the excused absence policy, but the means for doing it is not regulated by the University.

“It is completely up to the discretion of the professors,” Leo said.

“You don’t want to do anything that’s unfair to the other students, but you want and need to be accommodating (to student-athletes).”

Kaitlin Neary, a senior psychology and pre-med student on the soccer team, said she has had one professor let her take a test late.

“I’ve had great professors who are supportive, and I’ve had professors who shut down and don’t do anything at all,” she said.

Neary said that if a nonathlete thought it was unfair for her to take a test late, “Honestly, I’d probably tell them they’re right.”

“But it wouldn’t be fair to me to have to turn it in early,” she said. “It’s kind of a lose-lose situation.”

Cindy Pavlowski, an academic counselor in Academic Counseling and Student Services for Intercollegiate Athletics, works with student-athletes early in the semester to coordinate any missed tests or assignments.

“Our preference is for students to take tests early,” she said. “They get it done, and a lot of times, instructors prefer that because it doesn’t give a student extra time to study.”

Pavlowski said student-athletes can sometimes take tests on the road. The school they have their games at will provide a room for the student and someone to proctor the exam. This doesn’t always create an advantage for the student-athlete.

“If you’re trying to run a big race, but you have to take a big test, that might throw you off,” she said.

Regina Sullivan, senior associate athletics director, said the University policy for excused absences isn’t just for student-athletes.

“That policy isn’t geared toward student-athletes; student-athletes just fall under it,” she said.

The University policy for excused absences encompasses scheduled activities of official University student organizations. Examples of these organizations include intercollegiate athletics, ROTC, University band and University student government.

Leo said there are many legitimate groups that would like their activities to be considered University-excused absences.

“I don’t see how the University can make a policy on all of those things,” he said.

Jessica Blum, a theater sophomore, said that when professors explain University-excused absences on the first day of classes, she considers it “a side comment to people who are heavily involved in athletics.”

She said she has never seen a student-athlete given extensions on tests or assignments. But she said she doesn’t doubt that it happens.

Blum said that if she got an extension on an assignment, “I would feel like it was cheating the system.”

She said she understands, however, why student-athletes might need a break.

“There is more of a pressure on (athletes) to do well,” she said.