Student athletes have more tasks than to simply show up to practices and win games, they also have to perform in the classroom. When it comes to practices and away games scheduled during class times, it’s not possible for them to attend both. Athletes are committed to their teams and teammates.
Women’s Soccer Head Coach, Denise Lyons said it’s all about preparing ahead of time so athletes won’t miss any class time. Lyons said she has her players take morning classes so they can practice in the afternoon and attend games.
Lyons said that way, other student athletes won’t miss classes to play soccer. Lyons said the only time class time might be interrupted is during the postseason, and during certain practices.
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“The only time it might interfere a little bit would be practice, which I’m totally okay with. Number one, they are a student before they are an athlete, that’s why student athlete, and I think that as they become juniors, they might have to take labs, and a lot of the labs are held in the afternoon, so they just don’t come to practice, but I mean games obviously, to work around that,” Lyons said.
Lyons said open communication with professors ahead of time is key.
Chair and Professor of Environmental Studies Timothy Allen said it’s up to the student athletes to keep up in their classes. He said there is no such thing as excused or unexcused absences.
“You’re either in the class or you’re not in the class. I don’t take attendance every day and it’s great when students let me know ahead of time that they’re not going to be in class and I can let them know what we are going to do, and if there is an assignment that’s coming out. But it’s not a question of excused or unexcused,” Allen said.
“Now other faculty members may treat different absences from class in different ways, so if you have made advance arrangements with the faculty members or if they know that you are not going to be there, they’ll treat that as an excused absence, and that’ll treat it differently in their scoring of attendance or participation in the class, than they would for somebody who just didn’t show up because they overslept their alarm,” Allen said.
Sociology Professor Peter Stevenson said missing a week and a half worth of classes probably wouldn’t mean you will fail, however it will impact your grade. Stevenson said professors do things in the classroom, and if there are a lot of classroom-based activities, you really can’t make that sort of stuff up.
“In the sciences, if you miss a lab, it’s really difficult to sort of catch up on that sort of stuff. The social sciences, most of us try to progressively build on from one class to the next on some ideas, so you are going to miss that building block. It’s probably not as tough as to replicate the loss of a lab class, it really depends on how many you are missing, and how many in a row you miss. Missing one class here and one class there is probably survivable. Missing two or three in a row is tough,” Stevenson said.
“This may sound kind of heartless, basically unless the class is required, a student athlete shouldn’t take classes when they know they’re going to be travelling for games,” Stevenson said.
Women’s basketball player Brianna McCain said keeping in contact with professors is important, as well as keeping up with your schoolwork when you have to attend games. McCain said if an athlete has to miss a class, they bring an absence form for professors to fill out and hold onto. McCain said professors are really good about it, and sometimes athletes don’t even need to give the professors the form because they know if you are an athlete. McCain said missing classes can be stressful, but seeking out alternative ways to get notes always helps.
“Next week we have two away games and I’m missing the same class both days in the week. So I think it’s frustrating for teachers as well as us, and especially in the last couple weeks of the semester, it’s definitely crunch time for everyone. So it’s stressful for me as a student and for teachers, so I think it’s kind of a balance of both, but just making up your work and going to other classes that are available is a big help,” McCain said.
Men’s basketball head coach Rob Colbert said absences are obviously not the preferred method of learning, but coaches try to minimize those absences with priority scheduling for classes. Colbert said professors by and large have been cooperative with understanding what the student athletes are doing. Colbert said there are occasions when an athlete needs to attend a class, so they will send a car with a coach behind the bus to away games, so then the athlete can attend the class, and still make the game. Colbert said some particular classes however couldn’t be easily replicated.
“The hardest ones for kids are classes that are not redo-able, and what I mean by that is a biology lab, or a dance performance. Those are difficult to duplicate, so its not like you can make it up,” Colbert said.
Men’s basketball player Anthony Mariano said he has been fortunate enough to have not missed any work. Mariano said when missing a class, athletes have to notify teachers ahead of time and fill out a sheet they give to their professors.
“Teachers are usually willing to let us make everything up and not having it affect our grade,” Mariano said.
Brandon Chabot can be contacted at