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Volume 25 No. 27
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Student-Athletes Often Feel Isolated From Rest Of Campus Due To Sports Obligations

Current NCAA athletes say they are isolated from the rest of the campus scene because of their sports obligations, but doubt whether any rules or regulations can help bridge the gap. Speaking on stage at the ’17 Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, the student-athlete panel said professors, other students and student organizations have strong -- and, in some cases, badly informed -- opinions about athletes, and the athletes notice. “Sometimes professors, and other students, see some of the academic services, the tutoring, and think that grades are just given to us and you don’t have to earn it,” said Oklahoma State football player Brad Lundblade. “Sometimes you have to battle it." In other ways, the distance is social. Northwestern football player Justin Jackson said he and his teammates are among the “largest people on campus.” “At first sight, they’re going to most likely know we’re not a normal student,” he said. “It is different.” But the obvious policy solution to this dilemma -- spend less time on sports and more time simply engaging in campus life -- isn’t practical. When moderator Jack Ford asked if they would support rules changes to cut practice hours, Jackson said athletes will still work out on their own or study film. The inborn drive to win is too strong, he said. Seton Hall golfer Cassie Pantelas said it really is a personal obligation to engage with other parts of the university. “The time demands do play a role in being able to go and meet who you need, and to develop relationships outside of your sport,” she said. “But I do feel like at times I was able to.” Some marketing might not hurt, either. “It could be helpful to put on paper, from Monday to Sunday, what we do on a regular basis -- a class schedule, work out, travel, practice,” said Oklahoma gymnast Chayse Capps. “Just giving outside bodies an opportunity to see that ... a lot of people would be [surprised]."