Academic services keeps Shockers studious on the road


Selena Favela

Garret Lynch, a member of the track and field team, takes a break from studying in the Academic Center found in Koch Arena.

On Sunday, the Shockers punched their ticket to an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a win over Illinois State in the MVC Tournament. That means more basketball, more traveling and more missed classes.

When the Shockers go on the road, the struggles of being a student-athlete are displayed. It’s not just the game. With practices, talking to media and team meetings the Shockers are on a tight schedule whenever they are on the road.

“We’ll look at the syllabi and make sure we are aware what they have due that week so we can prepare ahead of time,” director of athletic academic services Gretchen Torline said. “We’ll know exactly what they have to do on the road and what they have to work on.”

The biggest key is talking to professors and making sure the professors are aware that they’ll be gone and the players are aware what they will be missing. The team likes to do their work in advance if they can. With this week not being filled with games, they players will have extra time to get caught up on what they missed last week and get started on the following week.

“Having an open line of communication and being flexible, whether you’re a student athlete or you’re a faculty member working with them is important” Sport Management Department Chair Mark Vermillion said.

Depending on when they play, the team will be missing three or four days of school. It’s important that they schedule their assignments and time efficiently. To help with this academic services assigns each student athlete an academic mentor to help manage everything.

“It’s just mostly time management and that’s really basically [what I do],” Linda Matson, an academic mentor, said. “They like to have time management help so they can fit [everything] into their schedule.”

The players also have study hall on the road. Torline travels with the team to coordinate their studies when they are away from Wichita. On off-days, the players will study for an hour and a half and will study an hour on game days

However, the tournament poses a time problem. The more the team wins, the more media, practices, etc. that takes up time.

“The year they went to the Final Four they had so much going on it was hard to find even an hour to do study hall,” Torline said.

Of course, the Shockers are set on winning as many games as they can, but that piles up, making it difficult on the players. With the excitement of being an athlete in the tournament, comes the stress of still being a student.

“People look at the basketball team, and think ‘wow they have it so great, they’re going to the NCAA Tournament,” Torline said.  “In reality, going through the NCAA Tournament, missing that much class and trying to focus on games and your academics, it’s hard. It’s a lot of time. It’s kind of overwhelming for the guys.”