Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Sept. 26, 1997

Faculty, staff meet athletes

by Linda Charles

Faculty and staff are getting to know student-athletes better through a two-year-old program.

The Faculty and Staff Guest Program, run through Student- Athlete Services, is intended to help faculty and staff understand the unique needs of student-athletes, "especially the time demands both academically and athletically," said Ed Banach, student athletic counselor with Student-Athlete Services.

Through the guest program, faculty and staff are invited to watch practice sessions, eat at a team training table, meet the coaches and go to a game.

So far, the program has focused on football, but Steve McDonnell, assistant athletic director overseeing Student- Athlete Services, said he hopes to branch out into volleyball, wrestling and women's basketball this year.

"The purpose is to show faculty and staff what a typical day is for our student-athletes so they leave with more information, understanding and respect for the demands on student-athletes," McDonnell added.

The program is designed particularly for faculty and staff who are new to campus or work with student-athletes, Banach said.

Those who participate in the program during football season start about 4 p.m. on Tuesday of a home game week. They watch a football practice, learn about an average week for student- athletes and their coach, have dinner at the training table, observe a football study session and visit with coach Dan McCarney.

Game day starts about 11 a.m., with a tour of the Jacobson Athletic Complex, the training area and press boxes. Participants also visit with coaches and recruits, and have lunch. During the game, they may join the team on the sidelines, sit in the stands or go to the press box.

Banach said those who have gone through the program usually become advocates of the sports program and are eager to help if a problem arises with an athlete.

"The majority of our student-athletes are great," McDonnell said, "but in some cases we need assistance in handling a problem. The program helps us build allies among the faculty and staff.

"It helps to be able to put a name to a face," he said. "If I need to call them, they know who I am. There's a connection there."

There is no expectation of preferential treatment for student-athletes. McDonnell said, "We're serious about academics and find that we develop a good working relationship with those who have gone through the program."

And many of those who have gone through the program have made good suggestions for improving athletics, such as a journalism professor who offered "great ideas" for marketing and advertising.

Student-athletes enjoy the program too, Banach said. It gives them an opportunity to meet and talk with faculty and staff. Student-athletes seem to feel more at ease talking to their professors in this informal setting.

Faculty and staff who are interested in participating in the program should contact Banach at 202 Beyer, 4-6761, e-mail: There is no cost to participants.

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