Priority registration proposal for athletes causes controversy

Shari Smith

To reduce scheduling conflicts, Greg Giddings, assistant professor of English, proposed that student athletes to get priority registration to the Faculty Senate on Oct. 17. Student athletes would be able to register at the same time as seniors and honors students.

“I am obviously an advocate for the athletic program, but I am also someone who is aware of the problems the faculty has,” Giddings said. “One of the problems that we have is with student athletes because of the games or matches, they have to miss class.”

According to Giddings, priority registration would reduce those numbers because student athletes will be able to register with their schedules in mind and schedule around their future absences.

David Carlston, Faculty Senate chair, said there are at least two benefits to the proposal.

“The primary reason was that athletics often produces scheduling conflicts for students, especially [when they] travel to events that would take them away from class. The idea was that early registration would help them enroll in classes that would be less conflicting with their athletic schedules,” Carlston said.

Carlston said the secondary reason that was expressed is most, if not all of the Lone Star Conference schools, give athletes priority registration and doing so would make it easier to recruit or help with recruiting.

“Many of the schools in our conference already have that policy in place,” Giddings said. “We are actually the only Texas school in the Lone Star Conference that does not have this policy.”

Other Lone Star Conference schools may be able to achieve this due to their larger enrollment size:

  • Texas A&M-Commerce – 13,000
  • Tarleton State University – 12,000
  • Angelo State University – 10,000
  • West Texas A&M – 10,000
  • Texas A&M-Kingsville – 9,000
  • Midwestern State University – 6,000

Giddings said, “The other schools do it, I assume it is not too difficult. If everyone else is doing it, my impression is that it is viable. Until we actually engage in the process, I don’t think we can predict exactly how difficult it is going to be.”

They proposed this idea to show the importance of athletics on campus, Giddings said.

“At the Faculty Senate, I was trying to demonstrate how athletics is very important on this campus and how we can figure out a way to lessen the conflicts,” Giddings said. “The problem is this creates tension between the student athletes and faculty because of these absences, and we are just trying to get away from that.”

There are students and athletes who agree with the proposal. Former football captain Joel Onyia, finance senior, said the proposal allows athletes to leave class for games “more efficiently.”

“For football, a schedule is a big reason if we play the next season or not,” Onyia said. “Athletes’ schedules are more complex than a regular student because they don’t have to worry about the eligibility of playing the next sports season.”

Dequan Haggerty, basketball player for two years and mass communication senior, said athletes should have priority registration because their schedules “can get very hectic.”

However hectic the schedules might be, Mauricelle Lewis, biology senior, said priority should be given to all students based on classification, not status, such as being an athlete. Krishawn Crockett, former women’s basketball player and sports and leisure studies senior, agreed.

“They should get the same treatment as everyone else,” Crockett said.

Because student athletes receive scholarships and many other privileges, Akenzie Athill, economics junior, said the priority registration is unfair.

“It seems unfair to other students that they will fill the seats in classes first,” Athill said.

According to Cavaughn Brown, honors student and computer science senior, said this proposal is unsurprising for non-athletic students, but it is important to consider their practice and game schedules.

“It honestly does not surprise me that they want to add athletes to that list,” Brown said. “However, I believe it is necessary for them because they need to be able to practice at certain times.”

Despite the negative reaction, Giddings further explains his concerns and said the proposal is meant to reduce conflict that “inevitably has occurred” for student athletes.

“Like I told the Faculty Senate, I am not trying to get special treatment for the student athletes,” Giddings said. “In my position of three years, one of the most frequent situations that I am asked to address is when we have a student who is upset because he or she is missing class too much, and I understand that. As a faculty member, I do not like my students missing class either, so if we give them priority registration, we think we can significantly reduce those situations.”

The discussion has been tabled because the Faculty Senate requested additional information which means the discussion was postponed until the next meeting.

Carlson said, “As of this moment it is tabled for additional information and as a senate we will look at it again in November.”

Giddings said one of the things that the Faculty Senate wanted was the number of student athletes by majors to see how difficult it would be for the different departments.

“I presented this to the Faculty Senate and they tabled the discussion because they wanted some more information. We are going to provide that information and then it will be up to them to make a recommendation to the president,” Giddings said.

Carlston said the Senate asked for additional information to look at the number of athletes and the number of people of the class rank of those that it would affect.

Another concern from the Faculty Senate was the timeliness of the athletes’ registration.

“We were looking at when athletes are registering, such as, ‘are they registering at the earliest possible day of their registration or are they waiting?'” Carlston said. “If athletes are registering on time and this is continuing to be a problem, that would be one thing, but if they are registering a day after their registration opens or two or three days after, then maybe this is not the concern or the issue.”

Still Giddings believes it will be beneficial in the long term.

“I know that there is always going to be a difference in opinion and I understand that. I just know that in the long run, it is going to help our student athletes and that’s what I’m trying to do,” Giddings said.

Facts about the athletes:

  • More than 6 percent of undergraduates are student athletes
  • There are 321 NCAA varsity athletes on campus: 115 women and 206 men
  • There are 68 athletes in Dillard College of Business Administration
  • There are 27 athletes with criminal justice majors

Source: Greg Giddings