Head start for Gaels?

Review proposes early athlete course selection

Fourth-year volleyball player Jeff DeMeza says athletes should have priority choosing classes.
Fourth-year volleyball player Jeff DeMeza says athletes should have priority choosing classes.

Varsity athletes need special accommodations for pre-registration and admission, said Chair of Athletics and Recreation Leslie Dal Cin.

Dal Cin said a special pre-registration process is needed for student-athletes, because they are increasingly torn between athletic and academic committments, she said.

“I think the reality is that the time of our games happens to lead to situations where our athletes may need to leave on a Friday, or they have practices,” she said. “We’re running into more and more situations where out-of-classroom academic activities are being planned, and they cause a conflict in the schedule.”

The Athletics and Recreation Review, released in July, recommends making special pre-registration accommodations and earlier offers of admission for student athletes.

“The rationale for it is basically to allow student-athletes to have some flexibility around scheduling classes that might be in conflict either with practice times or competition dates,” Dal Cin said. “If there’s a lab on Thursday or Friday, they might be able to potentially take the Thursday lab instead of the Friday lab.”

Dal Cin said she doesn’t yet know how the process would work.

“That’s clearly a recommendation we would need to work with the registrar’s office on,” she said. “Right now, it’s a recommendation in terms of a need, what would be nice to have as an added benefit to support student-athletes. I’m sure there’s lots of logistics that we would have to talk through, because we have no clear understanding of what the logistics would be for that.”

The review also proposed the registrar’s office work with Athletics and Recreation to “develop a protocol that facilitates timely recruitment and offers of admission to outstanding student-athletes.” University Registrar Jo-Anne Brady was unavailable to comment on the review’s proposals.

Dal Cin said Athletics would need to work with the registrar’s office to develop a process to give athletic recruits earlier admission times if the proposal was approved. “We have a very good working relationship with the registrar’s office, both on admissions and awards,” she said, adding that Athletics and Recreation would have to work closely with the registrar’s office to implement those changes.

Dal Cin said earlier admission times would only be offered to certain elite recruits.

“Earlier admission times is related to the recruitment of top athletes, where in some cases athletes are getting offers of admission to other institutions one to two months earlier,” she said. “In some cases, especially from out-of-province institutions, the athletes are actually making the commitment to attend a school before our offers of admission are even out. Once they’ve made the decision, it’s very hard to change their mind.”

Dal Cin said Queen’s usually sends out its offers of admission in April, and is obligated to keep them on the table until late May.

“Queen’s is traditionally among the last institutions that go out with their offers,” she said.

“By that time, it means every Ontario athlete has received an offer from a competing school. It means they have received an offer from schools outside of Ontario, and have been asked to confirm their offers, so it narrows our recruiting pool tremendously.”

Dal Cin said some of the top academic students receive earlier offers than the general student population, something she would like to see extended to top athletic recruits.

Dal Cin said the late offers limit teams’ flexibility if they don’t get their top recruits.

“It also doesn’t give us time to respond if an athlete intends on going to another school,” she said.

“For example, if we’re recruiting the top quarterback in Ontario, and we’re in the hunt with three other schools, and they all come through with their offer and we have to keep our offer on the table through May 28, then who do we go to next? They’re probably taken as people go through.”

Dal Cin said the problem isn’t limited to Queen’s.

“Ontario schools are all bound by the same date. We lose a lot of kids to places like UBC and Calgary,” she said.

Dal Cin said she has no objection to offer dates being changed for everyone, not just student-athletes.

Dal Cin said the new plans wouldn’t affect the balance between athletics and academics.

“To get into Queen’s, you have to be a pretty special student,” she said. “None of our coaches and none of the staff in athletics and recreation are asking for kids to be enrolled at Queen’s who are not going to be academically successful.” Dal Cin said critics of the proposals should look at the contributions athletes make to the university.

“There needs to be recognition that some of these athletes are spending 20 to 30 hours a week preparing to represent the institution,” she said.

Fifth-year volleyball player Jeff DeMeza said the preregistration proposal would be a “much-needed step” for athletes.

“It gives athletes the best chance to keep schoolwork from interfering with practice,” he said. “You constantly have to be vigilant about keeping track and making sure to identify when the two overlap early. If the school decides they want to be one of the top athletics schools in the nation, these are steps they have to take.” Third-year soccer midfielder Katie Dalziel said the preregistration change is crucial for athletes.

“It would help us out a lot,” she said. “It’s really hard to schedule school and practice.”

Dalziel said her team’s practices and games often lead to conflicts with labs and night classes.

“Usually, I just skip the class, or leave early, which sucks,” she said.

Dalziel said she’s in favour of extending earlier admission to certain athletes as well.

Jenoa Meagher, ArtSci’11, said she doesn’t think athletes should get any special treatment.

“I don’t think they should get priority,” she said. “I don’t think that’s fair. I think they should compete for academic positions just like everyone else.”

Anton Bergstrom, a Master’s student in English, said if the proposed changes go through it would say something about Queen’s priorities.

“I think that would definitely tell people they value athletics maybe more than other areas,” he said. “It’s the type of little move that would tick people off.”

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