Montana State University-Bozeman
NCAA Athletics Certification
Self-Study 2001-2002
Academic Integrity

Operating Principle

2.2 Academic Support

Members of the Association have the responsibility to conduct intercollegiate athletics programs in a manner designed to protect and enhance the educational welfare of student-athletes and to assure proper emphasis on educational objectives. Consistent with this responsibility, the institution shall demonstrate that:

  1. Adequate academic support services are available for student-athletes.
  2. Student-athletes are encouraged and assisted in reaching attainable academic goals of their own choosing.
  3. When it is determined that individual student-athletes have special needs, these needs are addressed.
  4. The support services are approved and reviewed periodically by academic authorities outside the department of intercollegiate athletics.

Self-Study Items

1. Identify, using an organizational or flowchart how the institution is organized to provide academic support and advising services to student-athletes (i.e., reporting lines and identification of who does what).

As illustrated by the following organizational chart (Figure II-3), academic advising and support services for student-athletes are not, by and large, distinct from the same services provided to the general student body. The services, which are offered specifically for student-athletes, are shaded on the figure and include the following: Athletics Academic Coordinator, Academic Center, Athletics Grants-in-Aid assistance, study halls, tutoring and 5th year post-eligibility programs. These will be discussed in detail in Operating Principle 2.2, Self-Study Item 2(a).

2. Using the following program areas for academic support issues as examples, please describe: (a) the specific academic support services offered to student-athletes, if any.

As is evident in the following organizational chart, the majority of academic advising, learning and support services are available to the general student body and student-athletes alike. Services fall into the following two general categories:

Academic

Academic Advising: In each of the seven (7) academic colleges and General Studies, students receive academic advising. Each student at the university is assigned a faculty advisor who not only assists students in course selection and degree progress assistance but who also serves as an academic mentor. Academic advising is considered an integral part of a faculty memberís contractual teaching obligations.

In addition to faculty advising, a number of colleges also provide centralized advising services to students enrolled in the colleges. General Studies provides professional, expert advising to undeclared students and students pursuing careers in the health professions. Nearly 1/3 of the new freshmen at MSU are advised and assisted by the General Studies staff.

Learning Resources: In addition to advising, colleges also provide a variety of learning support services for all students such as the Writing Center, Math Learning Center, and TAC Math Learning Center.

Freshman Seminars: The College of Business, College of Letters and Science, and General Studies offer a Freshman Seminar for MSU students. The University Honors program offers a similar seminar, UH 201, Texts and Critics. In addition to serving as an introduction to a discipline and/or the expectations of higher education, these courses are designed to assist students in their adjustment and integration into the learning environment and academic expectations of MSU. Students are provided opportunities to connect with other students and faculty in small seminar settings. Through a variety of assignments, students also make connections with a variety of academic support services and resources on campus as well as make positive contributions to the university and local community. They engage in critical thinking, reading, and discussion as well as a variety of team building experiences.

In the 1995 NCAA self-study, a strategy for improving student-athletesí integration into the learning community at MSU was to require student-athletes to enroll in one of the freshman seminars. This strategy has been very successful as illustrated in the following Table II-10.  

Table II-10
Comparison of General Student and Student-Athlete Enrollment in Freshman Seminars

 

2000

1999

1998

 

N

%

N

%

N

%

General Students

884

47%

881

47%

836

44%

Student-Athletes

33

76%

43

71%

33

73%

As is evident, well over 70% of student-athletes enrolled in one of MSUís freshman seminars in comparison to a little less than 50% of the general student body. An audit of student-athlete transcripts indicated that a majority of the student-athletes enrolled in GENS 101, a freshman seminar offered by General Studies. Student-athlete enrollment in specific MSU freshman seminars is included in the following Table II-11.

 
Table II-11
Student-Athlete Enrollment in Freshman Seminars by Course
 

2000

1999

1998

Totals

BUS 101

5

9

6

30

GENS 101

27

30

23

80

CLS 101

0

2

2

4

UH 201

1

2

2

5

NONE

13

17

12

42

Further analysis of student-athlete transcripts indicates that of the primary majors of those 42 student-athletes not enrolling in a freshman seminar were in Engineering or Education, Health, and Human Development. This may be a function of the curricular restrictions of these majors and the fact that Freshman Seminars are not currently available in these colleges. Strategies for continued commitment requiring all new first year students -- students in general and student-athletes -- to enroll in freshman seminars need to be examined. Strategies for advising and dissemination of information concerning these courses should also be considered.

Support Systems

The division of Student Affairs at MSU provides a variety of academic support services that enhance student success in the pursuit of their academic objectives. The following services are of particular interest when assessing the adequacy of academic support system for student-athletes.

Admissions and New Student Services - Orientation: The required freshman and transfer orientation sessions offered by New Student Services are the primary vehicles for disseminating information to students concerning university expectations and resources. There are four (4) freshman orientation sessions: three (3) during the summer and one (1) at the advent of fall term. These 2-Ĺ day sessions provide intensive orientation to the campus, academic advising, and course registration. Transfer students may opt for either individual, by-appointment orientation during the summer or a one (1) day session at the beginning of fall term.

Career Services: In addition to placement and career development activities, the career placement office provides interest inventories and career counseling for students who are undecided or unsure of their professional career objectives.

Disability, Reentry and Veterans Services: Diagnosis of and accommodations for learning disabilities are handled by this office.

Advance-by-Choice (ABC): The ABC staff provide tutoring and assistance to qualified students. Student eligibility is determined by program criteria. In addition, they provide extensive study skills, testing skills, and time management workshops for the student body at large.

Specific Services for Student-Athletes: As indicated on the chart, there are several services offered specifically to student-athletes. These services are designed to provide additional support and to serve as liaisons to the numerous university services and resources. The services are as follows:

Academic Center and Athletics Academic Coordinator (AAC): In response to a recommendation made in the 1st certification cycle, the University in conjunction with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics created an Academic Center in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. The center is staffed by the AAC whose primary function is as follows:

  • Assist the FAR with certification of continued eligibility (as designee of the Registrar)
  • Provide information to student-athletes concerning university academic support services and resources; provide referrals if appropriate
  • Assist students with course planning, registration, and degree progress primarily as these activities relate to continued eligibility; students are advised by their faculty academic advisors or General Studies professional advisors. Expectations and policies governing registration and advising is included in the Student-Athlete Handbook (pg. 38)
  • Serve as a liaison with faculty, academic advisors, and university support services and resources
  • Coordinate the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)
  • Coordinate monitoring of academic progress of student-athletes including periodic grade and attendance checks and calculation of team GPA averages. The frequency of grade/attendance checks is at the discretion of individual head coaches. A majority of coaches request midterm checks for all student-athletes; more frequent checks may be requested for individual student-athletes who have been identified as having academic difficulty or who have been identified as at-risk.
  • Manage the scholarship book distribution and book buy back program
  • Manage student-athlete tutor program
  • Supervise student-athlete study hall
  • Organize and help conduct student-athlete exit interviews

The center also contains study areas and networked computer stations.

Study-Hall/Table: Supervised study tables are available to student-athletes in the Academic Center. Mandatory study hall requirements are determined by the head coach of each sport and vary based on studentsí needs. Expectations and rules governing study hall are included in the Student-Athlete Handbook (pg. 39).

Tutoring: The Associated Students of MSU (ASMSU) provides a fee-based tutor service to all students on campus. In order to enhance student-athletesí academic success, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics assumes the cost of tutors for student-athletes (as allowed by Bylaw, 16.3.2). The tutor program is managed by the AAC. Student-athletes needing tutoring, contact the AAC who issues a tutor Ďcouponí which can be redeemed at ASMSU for tutoring services (copy included in Appendix II-F). This process allows the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to reconcile charges incurred for tutoring from ASMSU with Ďcouponsí issued and redeemed. It is the policy of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics that no student-athlete may tutor another. This eliminates any conflict of interest issues that may arise. Expectations and rules governing tutoring are included in the Student-Athlete Handbook (pg. 40).

Table II-12 below contains a summary of tutoring services rendered for student-athletes for the last three academic years.  

Table II-12
Summary of Tutoring Sessions by Sport
 

2000

1999

1998

Menís Basketball

18

51

25

Menís Tennis

1

0

4

Menís Track & Field

0

4

4

Football

30

43

113

Womenís Basketball

0

22

4

Womenís Tennis

5

0

2

Womenís Track & Field

19

8

7

Womenís Golf

0

5

0

Womenís Skiing

10

84

51

Womenís Volleyball

11

24

11

Total Sessions

94

241

221

Athletics Grants-in-Aid Assistance: The Office of Financial Aid provides a staff person who is dedicated to the administration and auditing of athletics grants-in-aid. This staff person is housed in the office of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse for the convenience of student-athletes and the athletic administration. She reports to the Director of Financial Aid.

5th Year Post-Eligibility Scholarship Program: Student-athletes who are within thirty (30) credits of completing their first bachelorís degree may be considered for post-eligibility scholarships. The procedures for application and criteria for selection are well defined. The process is coordinated by the AAC. A summary of post eligibility scholarships for last three years is described in Table II-13:  

Table II-13
Summary of 5th Year Post-Eligibility Scholarships

Academic Year

Applied

Accepted

Denied

2001

15

14

1

2000

8

6

2

1999

9

9

0

A copy of the policies, criteria for selection, and application form are included in Appendix II-G.

2. (b) any policies that govern which students can use these services;

Most of the services available to student-athletes and the general student body have no restrictions. Some programs such as the Advance-by-Choice program and Disabilities Services do have eligibility criteria for some services, but the criteria are the same for students in general and student-athletes.

2. (c) the mechanisms by which student-athletes are made aware of these services;

Student-athletes are made aware of the services available to them on campus primarily through the following information channels: freshman/transfer orientation, referral by the AAC, head coaches, and studentís academic department and/or advisor.

2. (d) the mechanism for periodic review and approval of these services.

The services described above are subject to periodic review. Academic advising, freshman seminar courses, and learning centers are reviewed through well-established processes of personnel and program review. Support services in the division of Student Affairs are reviewed by the Vice President for Student Affairs and the respective division head, including the review of the AAC who reports to the MSU Registrar and the athletics grants-in-aid coordinator who reports to the Director of Financial Aid.

Table II-14, summarizes the academic support systems available to student-athletes at MSU. Follow the link to view the table.

A review of the various academic support resources available at MSU indicates that academic support for student-athletes is extensive. Through a variety of resources student-athletes are encouraged and assisted in reaching academic goals of their choosing. Senior exit interviews conducted with graduating senior athletes confirm that academic expectations of student-athletes were well communicated and that academic support provided was sufficient. As illustrated in Table II-15 below, approximately 90% of the students interviewed felt that their academic responsibilities were well communicated to them; most felt the academic support afforded them was also sufficient. A copy of the senior exit interview questionnaire can be found in Appendix IV-G and complete summary results of the academic questions are included in Appendix II-H.  

Table II-15
Summary of Selected Academic Questions from Senior Exit Interviews, Questions 2 and 12

Questions

2000: N = 19

1999: N = 21

1998: N = 18

 

Y

%

N

%

Y

%

N

%

Y

%

N

%

Question #2: Did the coaching staff communicate its expectations about your academic responsibilities? Y/N

16

84

3

16

17

81

4

19

16

89

2

11

Question #12: Were you provided with sufficient academic support from the athletics department? Y/N

18

95

1

5

19

90

2

10

17

95

1

5

However, it is also important to note that regardless of the level of academic support available, some student-athletes may have difficulty maintaining satisfactory progress (as defined by the 25-50-75% rule) in their majors within the proscribed limits of their eligibility. For example, student-athletes pursuing degrees in majors which are studio and/or laboratory intensive, which require more than four (4) years to complete (Architecture) or which require off-campus field education (Nursing and Teacher Education) must work closely with their academic advisors to plan courses of study. Completion of degrees in these types of majors may require the student-athlete to commit to additional semesters of post-eligibility study. Student-athletes should be made aware of these possible constraints when they are recruited to MSU. A spring term 2002 snapshot of the distribution of student-athletes by major is included in Appendix II-I and demonstrates that student-athletes are enrolled in a variety of the majors available at MSU.