Putting the student in student-athlete

Many student athletes come to college as ready to hit the books as they are ready to hit the playing field. Others, though, need a little extra coaching to help them balance the sporting life and the academic. Enter the University of South Carolina's Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center — aka the Dodie. 

Maria Hickman, associate athletics director for academics and student development at the Dodie, says the idea is to get students started with the right habits from Day One. Accordingly, all freshmen athletes are required to attend mandatory study hall and meet with academic advisers once a week. 

The Dodie offers additional academic advising as needed, plus tutoring, counseling, just about any sort of help students might need to perform better in the classroom. The facility also has a dining hall and study rooms, and serves as a community center for student-athletes. 

But the real key to the center’s success, Hickman says, is the support from university administrators and from her own staff, which mans the Dodie from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays. Along with their support of the student-athletes, advisers meet regularly with professors to make sure students are attending class and on-track to complete their coursework successfully. They also meet with coaches to help motivate students who might be falling behind. 

Hickman, who played basketball at an NCAA Division II school before pursuing her master’s degree, wishes her school had offered a program similar to Carolina’s. Now, she says, she enjoys working most with those students who may need that extra help

“I like the challenge of dealing with the more at-risk students,” she says. “We tell them ‘You need to do the right thing at all times.’ We keep them accountable.”

Academic successes 

  • Gamecock athletic teams have led the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll for the past seven years.

  • During Dawn Staley’s tenure as women’s basketball coach, every player who did not transfer to another school has gone on to graduate.

  • Nine current Gamecock football players, including starting quarterback Dylan Thompson, have completed their bachelor degrees and are now working on a second degree or have started a master’s program while they play out their eligibility.

Learn more

To learn how you can help support UofSC's hard-working student athletes, visit Carolina's Promise

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