October 4, 2021

Ensuring Academic Success for Student-Athletes

SASS coat of arms

Student Athlete Support System (SASS) helps them stay on track

Attending classes, studying and completing assignments while life’s demands chew up precious time: It’s the plate-spinning act most college students face on a daily basis. For those who participate in sports, with the additional time commitment due to practices, games and travel, sometimes a plate or two crashes to the floor.

Schoolcraft College’s Student Athlete Support System, or SASS, can help pick up the pieces. This program, one of the most comprehensive among community colleges, serves as both a checkpoint and a way to get students back on track.

Dr. Michael Oliver, now Associate Dean of Career Services, helped form SASS in 1997 to help student-athletes succeed.

“Many student athletes struggled academically due to the demands of their sport, demands on their time and their academic load,” he said. “Therefore, to help student athletes be successful academically and graduate with a degree, certificate or successfully transfer, Schoolcraft took ownership and proactively developed a comprehensive academic support program aimed at holding student-athletes accountable for their academics and at the same time provide them with the support needed for them to be successful academically while recognizing the importance of their sport.”

“I work with the student to find out what they need help with. Do they need tutoring? An academic coach?”

Amy Proctor, SASS Coordinator

Amy Proctor is the SASS Coordinator. Essentially, she’s the liaison among instructors, coaches, the athletic director and, of course, the students. Faculty report to her six times a semester (about every two weeks) on the following:

  • Attendance
  • Passing
  • Borderline
  • Failing

“SASS is here to help student-athletes academically,” Proctor said.  “If a student is on the SASS report, coaches, the AD and the student are notified.”

From there, the focus is on finding the root cause of the issue and tailoring an individual solution.

“I work with the student to find out what they need help with,” Proctor said. “Do they need tutoring? An academic coach?”

Dedicated SASS Coordinator

Proctor is well-qualified for this role. As a former standout swimmer in both high school and college, she knows first-hand the challenges of balancing academics and athletics. Further, she adds 23 years’ experience as a counselor at Farmington Hills Harrison High School, where her responsibilities including helping prospective student-athletes stay on track for NCAA and NAIA eligibility.

Proctor generally works to help students improve in five key areas:

  • Time management
  • Textbook reading
  • Memory
  • Note-taking
  • Test taking

“We’re committed to helping the students stay on track to get their associate’s degree,” Proctor said. “Generally speaking, if they hit their deadlines, they’ll be OK.”

Proctor started in the role part-time in March of 2019 ahead of the closure of Farmington Hills Harrison that June.

“I love working with students – I always have,” she said. “Harrison was very special to me, but this has been a perfect fit and is very rewarding.”

Dedicated space in the Physical Education building is available to help student-athletes with their studies.

Recognizing that students arrive from different academic backgrounds and had different resources, Proctor has implemented some technology-based solutions to aid in success.

“You have to meet the students where they’re at, which is on their phone,” she said. “All of the student-athletes are on the Remind app, so for example I’ll text them about JumpStart! sessions or remind them about class registration. Just making sure they’re taking care of the things they need to take care of.”

Office Hours

Proctor’s office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesday as well as 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students also can scan a QR code at the door of her office in the Physical Education Building to make an appointment.

Throughout the year, Schoolcraft College has about 200 student-athletes on 11 teams. From that, Proctor estimates she sees less than one-fourth of that total.

“Most have the ‘student’ part down really well,” Proctor said. “We want everyone to stay on track, so we’re here to assist those who need a little help now and then.”

Inclusiveness is a key part of SASS as well.

“The SASS program continues to evolve,” Oliver said. “With the addition of academic success coaches through Learning Support Services, student-athletes are provided more in-depth academic support.

“Furthermore, Schoolcraft was proactive in addressing the needs of our athletes with disabilities and worked with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) on allowing for a reduced academic load for our student-athletes with a documented disability so they are able to compete as a student-athlete.”

To help positively reinforce academic excellence, SASS and the Department of Athletics has begun recognizing student-athletes of the month and also held a drive-through student-athlete academic honors celebration in July.

In addition, Schoolcraft College was named the 2020-21 National Junior College Athletic Association Academic Team of the Year in Women’s Bowling for achieving the highest grade point average in their sport. As a team, Schoolcraft compiled a 3.59 GPA.

Visit the SASS web page for more information.

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