Student athletes get helping hand from vice provost

By Tom Bukowski

Student Athlete Support Services is now under the wing of the Office of the Vice Provost, which runs the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.

SASS, the academic support system for NIU athletes, is used by about half of NIU’s 426 student athletes, said Francine St. Clair, director of SASS and assistant athletic director. SASS runs tutoring centers in the Convocation Center for student athletes, which will remain intact despite the change in who runs the program, St. Clair said.

Vice Provost Earl Seaver said he hopes the move from Intercollegiate Athletics to the Division of Academic and Student Affairs will benefit SASS by providing a broader range of services, better coordination and more academic support opportunities.

“The move connects SASS to our other academic support services here at the college,” Seaver said.

Because of the move, SASS is now more in touch with CHANCE, an academic support program part of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.

“Athletic Director Jim Phillips and I felt it was time to integrate the athlete support services into other NIU academic support services,” Seaver said.

The move will eliminate the need for duplicate programs between SASS and CHANCE, Seaver said. Student athletes involved with SASS will now be able to take more advantage of the ACCESS center, he said.

“Student athletes involved in SASS will now have greater access to resources on campus,” St. Clair said.

The decision to move SASS to the Office of the Vice Provost took place last spring.

Retaining students also is a theme for SASS.

“NIU’s retention rate is average or above national standards. But we always want to do better,” Seaver said.

The purpose of SASS is the same as any other academic support system, Seaver said. It’s here to help students decide what their major will be, what they want to do with their lives and to graduate, he said.

“The academic success of all of our students is very important to not only academic support services but to the university as a whole. We bring students to NIU to be successful,” Seaver said in a memorandum to NIU faculty.