Gene Smith, Athletics, (515) 294-0123
Elaine Hieber, Athletics (515) 294-0123
Tom Kroeschell, Athletic Media Relations (515) 294-3372
Steve Jones, News Service, (515) 294-4778
ISU UNVEILS PROGRAM TO AID RECRUITMENT, RETENTION OF MINORITY STUDENT-ATHLETES; IS PART OF CERTIFICATION DECISION
AMES, Iowa -- A new program to better meet the academic, athletic, career and other needs of Iowa State University's minority student-athletes will be implemented during the fall semester.
University officials believe the minority recruitment and retention plan also will help all student-athletes and minority students succeed as ISU.
"This comprehensive plan is a way to help ensure the success of our minority student-athletes as students, citizens and athletes," said ISU athletic director Gene Smith. "We want to do everything possible to give all of our student-athletes and staff the best possible experience at Iowa State University."
Smith added that the plan is part of the university's commitment to diversity and creating a multicultural environment at ISU.
The plan figured prominently in the decision announced Thursday (Aug. 21) by the NCAA's Committee on Athletics Certification to fully certify the ISU athletic department. A year ago, the committee designated ISU as certified with conditions. The committee stated that ISU needed a comprehensive plan addressing minority opportunities to obtain full certification.
The NCAA certification program works to ensure the integrity of an institution's athletic operation. A designation of certified means that an institution has shown it operates its athletic program in substantial conformity with NCAA Division I principles. All 307 Division I schools will undergo the certification process within five years. With yesterday's announcement, 142 institutions, including ISU, have been certified.
Smith believes implementation of ISU's new university-wide plan will lead to greater retention and graduation rates for all minority students. He said making the adjustment from high school to Iowa State is difficult for any student.
"It can be particularly difficult for student-athletes, who, in addition to dealing with tougher academic curricula, also must deal with the challenges of intercollegiate athletics," Smith said. He added that the adjustment can even be more challenging for some ISU minority student-athletes.
The plan addresses several areas that will aid all student- athletes, but are identified as essential to the success of minority student-athletes at ISU:
Athletic officials said the plan generally will use existing university services and programs available to all students.
- Modify university academic service programs to better meet the needs of student-athletes to improve student-athlete retention rates, grade-point-averages and graduation rates;
- Promote the use of leadership, life skills and personal development programs, and schedule them at times appropriate for student-athlete attendance;
- Create a minority student-athlete career development component to better help students choose majors and prepare for careers;
- Develop mentoring programs to improve minority student-athlete retention rates through structured interaction with ISU faculty and Ames residents; and
- Implement an improved professional development program for coaches and athletic department staff to better meet the academic, personal and athletic needs of student-athletes.
The new plan will be integrated with a joint Ames-ISU program called Breaking Down the Barriers, which looks to develop ways that Ames can become a more welcoming community to a diverse population.
Breaking Down the Barriers addresses several issues, including some studied by the minority recruitment and retention plan: law enforcement, minority consumerism, employment and internship opportunities, mentoring, leadership development, and academic services.
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