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Tech football coach, faculty discuss player academics

February 13, 1997

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ Texas Tech’s athletic department adequately oversees the academic standing of its players and does not expect special favors from professors, coach Spike Dykes told Faculty Senate members Wednesday.

Dykes appeared before the elected faculty body after an invitation offered in December to address some professors’ complaints that players seem to expect privileges in class, such as permission not to attend.

``It’s a little harder to keep up with them than it is for other (smaller athletic) teams,″ Dykes said, noting that he has 138 in his program. ``The hardest part we have to do is monitor their attendance.″

Most vocal has been business professor Paul Dunne, who engaged Dykes in a cordially tense exchange after the coach’s opening remarks to about 75 people in a packed Senate meeting room.

As he did in December, Dunne complained about a student who attended just one of his classes in an entire semester. Dunne said he contacted athletic department officials, not including Dykes, and was told that since the player was a fifth-year senior, there wasn’t much they could do.

``I want to know why you can’t send them to class,″ Dunne told Dykes, who spoke and fielded questions for about 40 minutes. ``If we’re going to talk seriously about academics, then let’s get them to class.″

Dykes said every athlete at Tech has the opportunity for an education, but ultimately it is the student’s responsibility to perform. However, as long as the student meets NCAA and school requirements for participation, Dykes said they’ve earned the right to play.

Responding to another question, Dykes said that students with failing semester grade averages have played in bowls because there’s no rule against it. However, he said ``unwritten″ academic policies have resulted in unpublicized suspensions of players.

Another professor, Paul Goebel, spoke in favor of players.

``I have more (attendance) trouble with my general population students than with my athletes,″ he said. Dunne said that non-athletes, even those on scholarship, differ because they don’t represent Tech on such a public scale.

``Athletics is such a small part of this university. Unfortunately, it gets too much visibility, and that’s something out of our control,″ Dykes said.

Last year, the NCAA reported that 69 percent of Tech’s incoming football class of 1991 received degrees, second-highest in the Big 12.

Attracting players not at risk of flunking out is one way to improve graduation rates, Dykes said.

``The worst thing you can do is get somebody here that has no chance,″ Dykes said. ``But there’s a fine line there, because who’s to say we can’t give them a chance.″

Also at the meeting, professors discussed a Senate budget report that blasts the athletic department for not holding its own financially.

In the report, professor Jon Hufford criticized the department for siphoning about $1 million from the student services fee and the campus book store. The Senate chose to postpone voting on a motion that would call for the athletic department to take steps toward self-sufficiency.

The $760,700 in fees and $310,425 in book store revenue comprises 7.5 percent of the athletic department’s $14 million budget this year.

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