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COUNCIL Report on the April 24 Agenda

2001-2002 Year-end Report of the
Committee on Recreation and
Intercollegiate Athletics

April 15,2002

During the 2001-2002 academic year the University Council Committee on Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics (CRIA) was charged with: a) helping the DRIA develop educational programs and ongoing sources of advice and information about performance-enhancing drugs and supplements; b) maintaining oversight over the improvement of recreational facilities; c) continuing to monitor the University's compliance with the letter and the spirit of NCAA regulations; d) working with DRIA to ensure that academic priorities are given appropriate attention by coaches and the Department. Help DRIA develop mechanisms for improving academic support for student athletes; e) establishing lines of communication with the coaching staff to better understand their perspective; f) suggesting initiatives that can increase faculty involvement in recruiting and in campus life for student-athletes.

CRIA met seven times with the Director and the appropriate Associate/Assistant Directors of the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics (DRIA) for discussions on individual charges. CRIA subcommittees were formed to examine GAPSA recreation issues and academic support for student-athletes. Their findings have been incorporated into this report.

1. Help the DRIA develop educational programs and ongoing sources of advice and information about performance-enhancing drugs and supplements. CRIA stands ready to support any DRIA-initiated educational programs for student-athletes.

2. Maintain oversight over the improvement of recreational facilities. The committee met with Dr. Michael Diorka to discuss this charge. The major issue of discussion focused on construction of the David S. Pottruck Health and Fitness Center. The building was "topped off" on 20 December 2001. Contractors and sub-contractors have certified that they have no labor contract negotiations between the present and the projected completion date in the 2003.

The Pottruck Center has utilized a four-level cantilever design in order to provide a maximum of space with the small construction site footprint that is available. The main entry level will contain the Katz Fitness Center, climbing wall, pro shop/juice bar, administrative offices and locker facilities. Three basketball courts and free weight/selectorized training area are planned for the second level. A spinning (stationary bicycle) room, state-of-the-art cardio/selectorized room and indoor golf center will be located on the third level. Two aerobic rooms and a second cardio/selectorized room will be installed on the top (fourth) level..

Gimbel pool will be closed again this summer while new mechanicals are installed. Arrangements have again been made for the use of the Drexel University pool. Transportation to the pool will be via the LUCY bus. This will be the final construction closing for the pool. The new pool area will contain both a 50-meter competitive pool and a 25-yard instructional pool. Additional features will include a sauna on the pool deck, a new timing system and computerized scoreboard. The swimming pool is the only portion of the fitness center that will be shared with a team that competes in intercollegiate athletics. The remainder of the facility is dedicated for the exclusive use of Penn students, staff and faculty.

During the first year of construction, a 20% decrease (from 2,000 to 1,600 visits/day) in student usage was noted. This was not unexpected and there is every reason to believe that visits will return to pre-construction levels with the opening of the new facility.

GAPSA issues. A CRIA subcommittee composed of Hillary Holmes (CRIA), Ann Tiao (CRIA) and Mike Stevens (GAPSA), met with Dr. Diorka for the purpose of developing a recreation program for graduate and professional students. An intramural program is already set up for graduate school teams with games that are played on a regular basis, however, the subcommittee felt that this type of program may not be meeting the needs of all the graduate student lifestyles. In an attempt to involve more graduate students in a recreation program, three "sporting events" were held. All events were held on the weekend with a total attendance of over 200 people. The volleyball event proved most popular but more importantly each event drew a sufficient number of students to provide both competition and make the event fun. Graduate/professional students from nearly all schools at the University including SAS, Wharton, Medicine, SEAS, Nursing, GSE, GSFA, Law, Veterinary, and Annenberg participated. Continuation of the "sporting event" program is planned for the 2002-2003 academic year. GAPSA and CRIA wish to thank Murray Grant, Stan Wilson, and Dr. Mike Diorka for their help and support in this endeavor.

3. Work with DRIA to ensure that academic priorities are given appropriate attention by coaches and the Department. Help DRIA develop mechanisms for improving academic support for student-athletes. Over the past three years CRIA has worked with Assistant Athletic Director Rosemary Burnette on developing a comprehensive plan to support student-athletes at Penn. CRIA believes the components of this program should include: 1) participation in the Pre-Freshman Program (for those who require it); 2) tutorial and individual study support program; 3) a system for monitoring progress of student-athletes; 4) fostering competition for academic excellence among our student-athletes; and 5) involvement of faculty as mentors and resources.

a) Pre-Freshman Program (PFP)/PENNCAP: The PFP is a four-week summer academic enrichment program. During the month of August, 110 students enroll in rigorous courses designed by faculty in each of the four undergraduate schools. They also receive comprehensive individualized counseling and academic support services. Each student is assigned a Peer Counselor and participates in social and cultural enrichment activities. This program is devised to provide students and student-athletes with necessary background skills for academic success at Penn. A principal concern of the PFP is the its small size. Consequently only half of the student-athletes (and students) who should participate in this program are able to do so. Recommendation: The Provost should appoint a committee to evaluate the logistics and feasibility of increasing the number of students who can attend PFP each year.

b) Collegiate Academic Achievement Program (CAAP). The greatest change in support for student-athletes during the past year has been the institution of CAAP. In previous years, a chronic problem for student-athletes has been their ability to access tutoring services. In many cases scheduled tutoring was held at time that conflicted with practice. This year DRIA initiated "walk-in" tutorials. Previously tutoring was arranged by appointment. In the new system, the tutoring sessions have a set schedule. Student-athlete who requires help with a subject shows up at a preset time and place. Although the system has been in place for less than one year, early indications are that it is very compatible with most student-athlete lifestyles. Freshmen student-athletes are required to attend the tutorial/individual study sessions. Upperclassmen with a 2.5 or lower GPA are "invited" to attend these sessions. Approximately 60-80 students attend per night. PENNCAP counselors go to CAAP sessions to periodically to check in with PENNCAP student-athletes.

The basic goal of the program is to bring tutoring to the athlete at a time(s) when he is free. CAAP sessions are held in the evening (7:30-10 p.m.). CAAP tutors are student-athletes, hired and trained by Tutoring Center after meeting the same rigorous standards as other TC tutors. The use of qualified student-athletes as tutors has an added benefit in that their employment does not dilute of the TC tutor pool utilized by other students. Additionally, tutors can provide feedback to DRIA on students' improvement/attitude, via their time sheets.

In addition to CAAP sessions, student's can also attend group tutorials sponsored by the TC. The Learning Resource Services and Center provides 8 weeks of information sessions, divided by sport, to discuss services, skills, strategy and hours of availability, on-site or near athletics. Like CAAP, the TC also has walk-in tutoring sites on campus at Harnwell House, SH-DH, Towne and Vance. Tutoring center offers special sessions on 5 intro courses, 4 nights a week. Students can get 30-minute session on a walk-in basis. All tutoring services are free to students and 50% of the student body takes advantage of tutoring services. Some courses/professors have organized special supplemental instruction, example: Organic Chemistry offers supplemental questions and session for answering questions.

c) Monitoring student-athlete performance. An a essential element of any support program for student-athletes is the ability to monitor progress through the semester. CRIA examined two potential solutions to this problem, the Mid-semester Warning (M-sW) and a student-originated request to release information directly to DRIA. The initial appeal of the M-sW was that that it was an ongoing Penn program that could provide DRIA with the necessary information on student-athlete progress. Further investigation showed several problems with using M-sW: 1), it is utilized only in the College and; 2) with the exception of language departments it is largely ignored. A student-originated form was then explored. This one page form contains an authorization to release academic information to DRIA that is signed by the student-athlete. Faculty will be asked to answer two questions. What is the student-athlete's standing in class? What are the performance indicators? Filling out the form should take the faculty member less than an minute. The return will be to DRIA. Recommendation: The Provost should endorse a mechanism that will enable DRIA to monitor the performance of its student athletes in the classroom.

d) Fostering competition for academic excellence among Penn student-athletes. An initiative that recognizes academic excellence should accompany the recent changes in DRIA academic support programs. These programs are low cost/no cost initiatives that provide encouragement for student-athletes and a spirit of competition amongst the University's athletic teams. For example, these awards should recognize "best team GPA" or "most improved team GPA". Furthermore, the creation of an "Academic All-Penn Athlete" designation would permit recognition of individual student-athletes across all sports that achieve a certain GPA. If initiated, CRIA would like to see this award become a part the student-athletes permanent record. Recommendation: DRIA initiate an awards program that recognizes the academic excellence of our student-athletes.

e) Faculty involvement in recruiting and encouraging academic excellence among Penn student-athletes. DRIA is currently attempting to encourage interactions between faculty, student-athletes and the department. Faculty participation helps recruiting good students. In addition, faculty can also mentor student-athletes as well as assist in career choices made at the conclusion of the undergraduate years. This program is in its very early stages and more details will be available in the upcoming academic year.

--Edward T. Lally, Chair

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 31, April 23, 2002


April 23, 2002
Volume 48 Number 31

James Wilson, director of IHGT, is stepping down as institute broadens it focus.
The School of Dental Medicine and the School of Nursing each recognize four of their finest for excellence in teaching.
The guidelines for faculty and staff salary increases for 2002-2003 stress merit and performance as the basis for any increases.
An invitation to commencement is extended to the University community.
The deaths of two former deans (Wharton & GSFA), an emeritus professor and an emeritus trustee.
University Council committee reports on the agenda for Wednesday's meeting include: Personnel Benefits, Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics, and International Programs.
The Penn Reading Project has chosen the text for the incoming freshmen class; faculty members are encouraged to lead a small discussion group in September.
The A-3 Assembly seeks volunteers (weekly-paid employees) to serve on the Executive Board; 20 positions are available.
Penn faculty and staff are invited to the Children's Festival Opening Night Picnic and Performance, as well as a lunchtime party at the Museum to celebrate its new wing and courtyard garden.
The schools announce their graduation ceremonies and speakers.