IOWA CITY, Iowa — Every semester, a number of Iowa students find themselves nervously waiting for the moment when the university will allow them to register and find out if there are any seats left in their desired classes. But while they wait, student athletes are already signed up.
For the 2001 spring semester, as with every semester, student athletes will receive priority registration beginning on Nov. 20. All athletes are given the opportunity to register during the first three days of registration, along with professional students, graduate students and any undergraduates who have earned 90 hours or more semester hours.
What has some students concerned is that any athlete, regardless of year or credits earned at the university, may have the chance to enroll before a student who has earned more semester hours.
UI freshman Patrick Drouin watches as athletes fill up seats up to 11 days before he is allowed to register.
“”It’s not fair that athletes have the priority above the other students who are here for the academics,”” he said. “”If anything, the students who are academically successful should be given the priority above the others.””
But in fact, students on academic scholarship from the UI do receive priority registration. These students are an example of those on campus who receive as much priority as a student athlete, said Carol Gruber, the director of student services in the Athletics Department.
UI senior Jessica Smith said she has experienced some problems enrolling in classes because they were typically crowded with athletes.
“”I think it is a problem,”” said Smith, who splits her time between three jobs and her classes. “”I think the university should consider the people who have to work and the people who are paying for their own tuition with their personal money. I’ve had a hard time getting into popular classes such as Relaxation Techniques and Health for Living because they were usually full, and I had to wait two or three semesters to get those classes.
“”I’ve ended up getting the classes I wanted, but it was because I was running around and talking to the teachers and my counselor. It hasn’t been because of anything the university has done.””
Gruber said that although she certainly empathizes with students such as Smith who are required to put in long work hours as well as study hours, a student athlete’s commitment to the university is more formal.
“”Those students are not responsible to the university,”” she said. “”They have not made or signed a contract with the university as the student athlete has. Student athletes sign a contract that has them agree to represent the university and meet all the requirements they face to be successful in athletics and academics.””
UI senior Jake Wilson, who competed this fall as the No. 1 singles player for the men’s tennis team, said most students have the wrong idea about the registration rules.
“”I think it’s pretty fair because our practice times are set in stone,”” he said. “”While other students may have to schedule their classes around a job, they can ask their bosses to switch their schedule. But when you have to be at practice from noon to 5:30 p.m. every day, no matter what, it takes away your options for classes.””
Travel also comes into play when athletes register for classes, Gruber said.
“”Student athletes are responsible for academics and athletics, and scheduling around traveling times helps them handle their responsibilities in both areas, which is very important to us,”” she said.
Wilson, a psychology major, said he plans to focus on sports psychology because he has been exposed to sports his entire life, and this may be a reason that athletes have sports-related majors.
“”Athletes may just have those majors because they are very familiar with athletics and it is a big part of their lives,”” he said.
— Daily Iowan