Friday June 27, 2003
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Shuffle at Athletic Association replaces Moore

By Michael Handelman Contributing Writer

The Georgia Tech Athletic Association recently appointed Colonel James Stevens, currently commander of the Georgia Tech Air Force ROTC detachment as the Academic Director of the Athletic Program. Stevens replaced Dr. Carol Moore who has taken another position at the Institute. Stevens will officially start his job in July once he retires from the air force in late June.

Col. Stevens cites his background as a student-athlete, arriving at Tech in the 1970s on a football scholarship, as valuable experience for managing and communicating with the network of players, coaches, and academic professionals that currently comprise the academic office.

Tech Athletic Director Dave Braine believes these characteristics will contribute to the success of the new academic director, saying “with his military background, it goes without saying that Jim will stress discipline and accountability, and his leadership will immediately command the respect of our student-athletes. At the same time, he fully understands the challenges that Georgia Tech students face, particularly when combined with the demands of collegiate athletics.”

The appointment comes following the declaration of ineligibility of eleven student-athletes, ten of them in the football program. Criticism regarding the academic management system of athletes at Tech has placed the Association’s Athletic Services Department under scrutiny.

Stevens believes that ultimate responsibility for the academic performance of athletes lies with both coaches and players. His two goals include having a successful academic program and ensuring that all student-athletes will graduate from the Institute. However, he also cites the responsibility of students to go attend classes, studying for tests and attending tutor sessions. He views the primary responsibility of the Athletic Association to make sure that they are enrolled in the right courses and major, and headed towards graduation.

If students are not attending class, Stevens sees coaches as the first contact and primary enforcer of any attendance policies. Reporting responsibilities regarding classroom attendance will fall on the Athletic Association.

Stevens believes that coaches should be “intimately involved in how well the athlete does in an area of studies.” Coaches will be notified if they have players in who are either at risk, or are struggling academically.

Braine agrees with this assessment, saying “the position of Director of Academic Services will report directly to the Director of Athletics while jointly reporting to the provost’s office. Jim will work very closely with our coaches and athletics administrators to ensure that the academic progress of our student-athletes is appropriately monitored and maintained.”

Although there have been allegations that there were systemic issues with the academic monitoring system that the Athletic Association uses, Stevens does not currently plan on changing staff saying, “there are no plans to replace anybody...we are going to work as a team, and the way I look at it, we are a team of academic advisors.”

Regarding the academic rigor that athletes face in classes at Tech, Stevens acknowledges that “every college in the United States that is a Division I college is going to admit athletes that are not going to have as high of SAT scores or GPA as a typical student...that doesn’t mean that they are less capable, that means that most of their energies are going towards sporting”.

Regarding maintaining the eligibility of the players, “I want them to graduate, but I also want them to be eligible...if I can get them to graduation, they are going to be eligible,” says Stevens. He acknowledges that the majority of student-athletes in the Athletic Association will not be playing their sport professionally. Therefore, “the Georgia Tech degree is going to mean something to them” says Stevens.