Athletes must study hard to be able to play hard

Pierce Richardson, sophomore in criminal justice studies, reads in Hixson-Lied Student Success Center. Richardson plays tight end for the football team.

Cory Weaver

In light of the recent news that ISU quarterback Jerome Tiller is academically ineligible for the 2011 football season, one question that arises is how something like this would happen.

To the surprise of many students, however, academic eligibility isn’t solely based on whether an athlete gets an A or a D in a class.

“There’s a number of different rules that a student-athlete has to meet every semester that they’re in school,” said Tommy Powell, associate athletic director at Iowa State. “Some of it’s GPA, some of it’s hours passed, some of it’s hours earned, some of it is percent toward degree.”

At Hixson-Lied Student Success Center, there are many resources available for student-athletes, and Powell said they have been buzzing with about 500 appointments per week.

“That’s individual,” Powell said. “That’s people coming in and getting tutored or mentoring, which is a person that helps them get organized and we do that mainly with our freshmen coming in.”

One of the athletes who utilize the resources for student-athletes is junior defender Megan Long of the ISU soccer team. Long was also named to the Academic All-Big 12 Team in 2010 and said the resources are really helpful.

“It’s really nice because there’s a lot of people that are watching out for you and making sure you’re on the right track and everything,” Long said.

Hixson-Lied offers a wide range of resources to help student-athletes stay on track, from tutoring and mentoring to academic conditioning.

Powell said their help supplements the guidance that each student’s adviser gives them.

“They have an adviser on campus though, just like you have an adviser on campus, so they have to be advised by that person as far as what classes to take for their degree,” Powell said. “All we do is we supplement that with tutoring, mentoring and tracking how they’re doing in each one of their classes.”

The amount of hours each athlete must spend in Hixson is determined on an individual basis. While that number is set for all freshmen, it can change based on their performance in the classroom as time goes on.

“We set up our freshmen to be here at least eight hours a week, and then based on how they’re doing, they can either matriculate out of having required study hall or they remain in throughout their entire time here,” Powell said. “But it’s a call that I consult with our coaches and we work really closely together, but it’s our system that we put in place here that we have our students prescribed to.”

The NCAA Rules and Regulations Book is the size of the dictionary and is on display at just about every library, but for more information on academic eligibility among student athletes, visit