The University of Iowa

Athletics Student Services

Program of Excellence

During the 2000-2001 academic year, the University of Iowa Athletics Program was one of four schools awarded a prestigious "Program of Excellence" by the Division 1A Athletic Directors Association for their CHAMPS/LifeSkills Program. The "Program of Excellence" recognizes Division 1A athletic programs that have established student-athlete welfare as the cornerstone of their operating principles.

The CHAMPS (Challenging Athletes' Minds for Personal Success) program was created by the NCAA in the early 90's to focus on the "total development" of student athletes. The program has five parts or committments: academic excellence, athletic excellence, personal development, service and career development. With this mission, the program strives to assist student athletes in attaining skills to become successful leaders and responsible citizens in our communities. The University of Iowa has adopted the theme "Today's Hawkeyes are Tomorrow's Leaders," for the program.

The University of Iowa has a longstanding commitment to the growth and development of its student athletes. Since its creation in the 1970's, the UI Office of Athletic Student Services has been a pioneer in providing academic support services for its student athletes. The UI program is a model for other schools developing their own programs. Up to 20 professionals associated with the office work to ensure that student athletes get the most out of their college experience. Features of the UI CHAMPS/LifeSkills program are:

Academic coordinators work closely with student athletes from the time they arrive at Iowa until they graduate. These longstanding relationships offer the stability and guidance students need to flourish. Coordinators work closely with students' university assigned advisors on academic planning matters. They help students understand NCAA, Big Ten and UI academic regulations as well as solicit feedback from instructors on student progress and provide reports to coaches.

They also work to identify student athletes who may need tailored academic assistance and design an array of academic services to help them succeed.

Personal Development:
Encouraging emotional well being and personal growth are also a large part of the CHAMPS program. In order to support the development of a well balanced lifestyle for student athletes, the Student Services office offers programming on topics like stress management, diversity, nutrition, substance abuse, sexual health and effective communication.

For all new student athletes, there is an 8-week Transition Seminar offered during fall semester. Topics include personal and academic goal setting, relating to professors, and study strategies.

The Minority Focus Group assists minority student athletes to develop a support network to help them face the unique challenges in their personal, social, and cultural adjustment to the UI.

The Iowa Student Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC) offers students an opportunity for leadership, as well as an avenue for addressing student athlete interests and concerns with the administration.

Career Planning:
Since the odds of making it to the pros are 1 in 5,000, Athletics Student Services collaborates with the UI Career Center to help student athletes identify their interests and career options and select a program of appropriate academic study. They also work to secure internships and introduce student athletes to business and professional leaders for networking. The annual Polk County Banquet is often a launching pad for interviews and eventual employment. Student Services also offers workshops on resume writing, interviewing, etc. Human resources professional (and former UI football player) Lew Montgomery recently returned to campus to offer a "mock interview" session to help students prepare for job and internship interviews. Other former student athletes participated in a Graduate School Forum, talking about their experiences in law school, medical school, and MBA programs.

Service and Outreach:
The Athletic Student Services office recognizes the importance of community involvement and sets up programs for student athletes to volunteer including the Ronald McDonald House, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and "Hawkeye Day of Caring," an event in which student athletes, coaches, and administrators participate in service projects throughout the Iowa City community.

One of the hallmark activities is the Youth Leadership Program, a summer leadership school for area preteens and teenagers in which student athletes serve as counselors and role models. Senior Jeremy Allen values his involvement in the community. "Participating in our schools CHAMPS/LifeSkills programs have been extrememly fulfilling for me. The opportunity to be a part of our Youth Leadership Program has been wonderful. Every day I had the opportunity to directly influence a youngster's life by being a positive role model."

Over the years, these programming efforts have not only assisted graduating Iowa student athletes ten percentage points or more above the general student body (at 75% the departments graduation rates also place it among the leaders in the Big Ten Conference), but have also helped students become more responsible citizens and contributors to society, making the office's motto: "Today's Hawkeyes are Tomorrow's Leaders" a reality.