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Originally published: 2014-01-16 18:31:19
Last modified: 2014-01-16 18:38:42

ASU athletes could miss more class

by Anna Oakes

Faculty members were told Monday that some Appalachian State University student-athletes would likely miss more class time because of increased travel requirements in the Sun Belt Conference.

On July 1, ASU will depart the FCS-level Southern Conference -- where most teams are located in North and South Carolina -- for the FBS-level Sun Belt Conference, with teams in Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Idaho and New Mexico.

The ASU Athletics Council's Student Academic Enhancement Subcommittee is currently examining the impacts of increased travel for eight of the university's 20 varsity athletic teams, Neva Specht said at Monday's Faculty Senate meeting. Specht is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the subcommittee.

"We want to make sure that as travel increases, that academic integrity is maintained and that student-athletes can be successful," Specht said.

The varsity sports teams to be affected by the increased travel requirements include men's and women's soccer, volleyball, football, women's softball, men's baseball and women's and men's basketball, Specht said.

(The field hockey team is expected to remain in the NorPac conference, while wrestling is expected to remain in the SoCon because the Sun Belt does not sponsor those sports, ASU Sports Information Director Mike Flynn explained. The other varsity teams' only conference competition is the conference championship, meaning their regular season schedules will maintain similar travel requirements.)
Currently, ASU policy requires that student-athletes do not miss more than 10 percent of the classes for any course, but for those eight teams, "that number is likely to increase," Specht said.

Specht noted in an email that student-athletes at some Sun Belt institutions miss up to 17 percent of some courses.

"Our committee is working with (the) Athletics (Department) to try and minimize the missed classes for athletic travel as much as possible," she said in the emails.

Specht invited faculty members to submit ideas, suggestions and concerns to the subcommittee.

"Obviously, missing a class is a big deal," Specht told the senators. "But we've got to find a way to make this work."

Faculty Senate Vice Chairman Paul Gates commented that the academic ramifications should have played a larger role in the decision made two years ago to move up to the FBS level.

Specht said the subcommittee will make recommendations on the travel impacts to the Athletics Council and to the Office of Academic Affairs later in the spring.

Program prioritization

Appalachian State University Provost Lori Gonzalez said the academic program consolidations recommended in the program prioritization report released last month would be implemented in fall 2015.

In December, Gonzalez and ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock announced decisions to consolidate nine undergraduate and graduate programs and to eliminate nine undergraduate and graduate programs as a result of the two-year program prioritization process.

Gonzalez informed the Faculty Senate that a review of ASU minors and concentrations slated to take place this spring has been postponed. She said she planned to work with the university's Academic Policies and Procedures Committee to develop a regular program review schedule at ASU.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits ASU, recommends that programs be reviewed every five to seven years, she said.

Technology issues

Mathematics professor Bill Bauldry appeared before the Faculty Senate to discuss potential issues in the classroom stemming from the use of emerging technologies such as Google Glass.

Bauldry said potential negative impacts could include academic dishonesty, privacy issues and intellectual property and copyright infringement.

He suggested that the university develop a policy for the use of such technologies.