Goshen College has started a new committee on campus to work with athletic coaches and academic faculty in order to avoid putting students in the middle of conflicts.
The committee was formed last semester and met for the first time on Jan. 12. The committee is made up of several faculty members who volunteer their time and energy to act as liaisons for their departments. The idea is that this will enhance communication between athletic and academic programs.
“On many campuses, [academics and athletics] are seen as competing areas, but we see tremendous value in the partnership,” said Josh Gleason, athletic director.
Paul Keim, professor of Bible and religion, is one of the committee members. He describes the committee as an opportunity for representatives to share concerns and discuss possible solutions to problems that might arise from scheduling.
“The purpose of the committee is to create stronger lines of communication between the academic faculty and athletic coaches,” said Jo-Ann Brant, academic dean. “The meetings also help us to understand the complexities of each other’s work.”
Rustin Nyce, the assistant athletic director and head coach of track and field and cross country, presented alongside Jessica Baldanzi, associate professor of English, at a teaching faculty meeting last week.
“The issues we talked about had to do primarily with scheduling conflicts in regards to practices, games and school obligations,” Nyce said.
Baldanzi appreciated the chance to talk with the other committee members and be reminded that they are all rooting for the student athletes.
“One thing that was really useful to me is hearing the coaches talk about their 4 to 6 [p.m.] practice time as, ‘this is the only time I get my student athletes so that we can practice before a game,’” said Baldanzi. “I didn’t know 4 to 6 was precious time.”
“There aren’t a lot of 8 a.m. classes. A lot of [student athletes] would like to have earlier classes that wouldn’t create these conflicts with professors that sometimes arise,” she said. “We’re going to talk about ways to improve scheduling, ways for professors to communicate better with coaches.”
The committee will plan on meeting at least once a semester to work out any issues that may arise between athletics and academics.
“We all appreciated being in a formal setting that allowed us to discuss issues pertaining to our student athletes and work together to best serve them,” said Nyce.
“I hope that the committee can contribute to the deeper integration of athletics and athletes into the full, rich and diverse program offered by and representing Goshen College,” said Keim.
As they move forward the committee is hoping to work through the unique issues that student athletes encounter in order to ensure both their academic and athletic success.
Dan Smith, professor of chemistry and a member of the committee, hopes they will facilitate strong relationships between teaching faculty and coaches.
“This will provide us opportunities to work out difficulties in scheduling and expectations for our student athletes,” said Smith.
“This committee is an intentional effort to collaborate, communicate and be more effective towards [developing excellent student athletes],” said Gleason.