Jean Boyd, who heads up the student-athlete development center at Arizona State, wrote an article addressing the claim that all academic support offices do (or should do) is keep athletes eligible. Boyd lays out the approach that academic support offices should take to go beyond simply maintaining eligibility:
- Orient athletes to the university and quickly assist in the development of strong values for academic, community, and personal development.
- Systematically assess entering athletes for academic preparedness.
- Identify the highest-risk athletes and create individualized plans to support and develop them as effective learners.
- Adopt structured study programs that will also serve other at-risk athletes.
- Use university and department tutorial resources to maximize learning.
- Monitor academic performance and engage coaches in partnership toward academic achievement.
- Demand the best from our students, challenging them to develop critical life skills.
Aside from the first and last in the list, what is not addressed is how academic support offices not just foster learning, but also greater academic opportunity. That can be difficult when athletes are coming in underprepared and deficient in skills, especially considering how little wiggle room the NCAA gives for remediation. But right now, the only tactic is to get athletes up to speed as college students as quickly as possible.