While the COVID-19 pandemic swiftly affected the fall competition season for hundreds of South Dakota student-athletes, it also brought an abrupt change to their academic course schedule for this fall.
Within the add/drop period, student athlete academic advisors — like Colleen Evans — worked with over 100 student athletes to change their school schedules due to the fall season postponements.
Typically student athletes will take a lighter load during their off season to manage their 20 hours a week of training and competition hours, Evan said.
“It’s a balance between athletics and academics,” Evans said. “It’s not uncommon for student athletes to take 1-2 summer classes to stay on track with their four-year plan. So, this also allows them to lighten their load during their season and stay on track.”
All athletes are required to utilize the Student Athlete Success Center (SASC) when attempting to change their schedules because of the student-athlete holds placed on their accounts. A student-athlete wanting to add or drop a course has to notify their academic advisor who notifies the registrar’s office for them to complete the change.
“The reason for this is so they do not inadvertently become NCAA ineligible,” Evans said. “The NCAA expects us to have processes in place to prevent inadvertent schedule changes that lead to ineligibility, so this is the way we control that.”
It’s a bit more complicated for student-athletes to change their schedule and the SASC advisors are fairly busy during the add/drop period, Evans said.
Due to COVID-19 precautions meetings with advisors occur over Zoom or via email rather than inside the office, Evans said.
“We did have some scheduled appointments and come to our office,” Evans said. “We have plexiglass shields on our desks and use masks, so it was in line with all COVID protocols, but it was definitely different than just popping by their advisor’s office.”
With the sports seasons being postponed and fall sports moving into off-season training fall and winter sports athletes were mostly affected, Evans said.
“Mentally, it will be a new and different experience for some of our fall sport student athletes to think about their championship season in the spring,” Evans said.
This fall the goal remains the same for the SASC, to support student-athletes with staying on top of their studies. Advisers work on scheduling student-athletes classes around practices and travel schedules. As well as, making sure all freshmen and some upperclassmen student-athletes have mandatory study hours to complete each week, Evans said.
“It begins with advising and scheduling their classes around practice and travel,” Evans said. “For some student-athletes, we meet weekly and help them organize their week and ensure they understand what assignments they may have due each week.”
Not only is it important student-athletes remain on track for graduation and remain NCAA illegible, but to feel confident in the process.
“Helping our students understand how to access and use all of the academic tools USD offers is important for their overall success,” Evans said.