Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Athletes juggles sports, class


“We want our student-athletes to graduate in the field that they choose. If it’s engineering, marketing, computer science, management, whatever it might be, we want them to have every opportunity to major and graduate in the field they want to go into,” said Jon Dever, assistant athletics director for 
student services.

Dever, who came to the University in 1992, works closely with athletes on their 
academic success.

“Our expectations are high here,” he said. “At the same time, we also want to prepare them for life after athletics. We have a lot of programs to help students not only decide what they want to do, but what major can lead them 
to that.”

The Bill Battle Academic Center located in Paul W. Bryant Hall is home to the Center for Athletic Student Services.

According to the University, “The Academic Center covers 52,300 square feet and has a 48-seat computer lab equipped with brand new equipment and 25 laptop computers available for student-athletes to check out and use on team road trips. The building features math, English and writing labs along with 40 individual study rooms. A pair of 50-seat classrooms and a 140-seat lecture hall is also available. There are also several student lounges located around the premises, giving student-athletes a more relaxed place to gather and study.”

Originally a residential housing option for athletes, it was converted into an academic student services building in the early 2000s for athletes.

“Expectations for student athletes are a little higher than just the University itself would require, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it just means they have to meet certain thresholds quicker than a regular student would,” Dever said. “You’ve got to separate the two, academics 
and athletics.”

The Center for Athletic Student Services has increased its staff size and increased the number of advisors available in recent years, all in an effort to help further academic success for athletes.

Fern Hampton, assistant 
director for athletic student services, also stresses the separation for academics and athletics.

“For my student-athletes, athletics is on one side and academics is on another, and for most of my students they are at equal importance,” she said. “They are here to earn a degree, we recruit them as students as well. I think their expectations for themselves are very high.”

Expectations and standards are something coaches deal with on a daily basis, especially head women’s tennis coach, 
Jenny Mainz.

“The standard at Alabama is very high, and specifically in the women’s tennis team, it’s very high,” Mainz said. “That means academically, socially, it’s everything. It’s really important you get the right people and not just a good player. ”

Entering her 18th season as head coach, Mainz helped lead the women’s tennis team to a 2014 SEC Championship and 2014 National Double Championship.

“They are all incredibly driven and come from great families,” she said. “They expect so much out of themselves. Our expectations are very high, but mind you, all of their expectations are very high too. They’re not trying to claw to get to a certain level; they expect that from themselves.”

The women’s tennis team was also able to carry success off the court. Out of every athletic team, male or female last year at the University, they carried the highest GPA at 3.85, including one Academic All-American.

“My girls want to go on and make an impact later,” Mainz said. “They want to be CEO’s and orthopedic surgeons. I have past players that are lawyers, one that’s a pediatrician. They are going to get involved in great things whether it politics, business or finance. They are just very intrinsically motivated.”

Since 2000, the University has been ranked fourth nationally for total number of Academic All-Americans for Division 1 schools and is also the highest in the SEC since 2000. In the 2013-14 
academic year, Alabama had 13 All-Americans, including 
gymnast Kim Jacob.

“My coaches, teammates and the staff at the academic center helped me learn how to work better in a classroom setting,” 
Jacob said.

Jacob, who was homeschooled before coming to the University of Alabama, credits her success to those around her, including her coaches and teammates.

According to ESPN, “Jacob won the 2014 NCAA all-around title and competed in 11 of 12 events at the national championships, most of any gymnast in the meet. She is an 11-time NCAA All-American, including four first-team honors in 2014, the most in the nation. She also was the SEC gymnastics scholar-athlete of the year for the third year in a row.”

Recently, Jacob was awarded the Honda Cup as the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. She was presented the trophy on the field at the Southern Miss football game Sept. 13.

“It was an amazing way to end my career,” she said. “It proved to me and showed me how much the school has helped me grow as an athlete and as a student as well. The coaches always pushed me to put academics over athletics, and knowing that someone would always have my back helped me stay motivated.”

That’s what Hampton and Dever stressed: success in and out of the classroom.

“Our facilities are incredible, on the athletic side and the academic side. Whether or not that next step is pursuing a professional career or graduate school, we want them to get out and be equipped to be a great employee as well,” Hampton said.

More to Discover