Sports advising surpasses academics

The Simpson Athletic and Academic Center is home to student-athlete advising and private study rooms. It also houses the athletic training center. Photo credit: Dayday Wynn

Shayla Kelley | Reporter

Student-athletes at Baylor University have a lot of responsibility. Not only do they have to work hard on the field or on the court, but they also have to work hard in the classroom. At Baylor, the “student” part of a student-athlete is strongly emphasized. Without the organization and work from the athletic academic advisors, student-athletes would not be able to flourish both in their sport and academically.

Kendal Jarrett, assistant director of Student Athlete Services, has worked for Baylor University for six years. She currently advises women’s basketball and acrobatics and tumbling athletes.

“My job as an academic adviser requires me to meet with and advise my group of student-athletes: acrobatics and tumbling and women’s basketball,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett spends a lot of time with the student-athletes and said she makes sure they are academically taken care of so they can perform the sports they love.

“I do four-year planning with them so they are able to see what the four years of college will look like for the major of their choice,” Jarrett said. “I register them for classes during priority registration, and I am constantly checking grades so eligibility is never a concern.”

Sophomore acrobatics and tumbling team member Makenah Cotner said Jarrett does everything she can to help students, and Cotner loves that she can go to Jarrett for more than just academic advice.

“[Jarrett] is beyond helpful when it comes to making my class schedule work around practice,” Cotner said.

Jarrett must stay in compliance with all NCAA guidelines and academic requirements for each student-athlete she works with. This means she not only has to make sure student athletes follow Baylor’s academic rules, but also rules set by the NCAA.She also must stay in contact with Baylor faculty.

“I speak with professors constantly to have a good relationship with them knowing that we support and appreciate their efforts to help out student-athletes,” Jarrett said.

Senior acrobatics and tumbling team member Alexa Crumpton said Jarrett has been very helpful in her academics at Baylor.

“[Jarrett] does the dirty work of class registration for student-athletes,” Crumpton said. “We get advised on campus and then take our suggested and advised classes to her, then she spends the time piecing all of our classes together in a way that accommodates our hectic schedule as athletes best.”

Jarrett acts not only as an academic adviser, but also as a counselor. She said she really cares about each athlete’s current and future success.

“I counsel them on major and career choices and help with post-graduation preparation as far as helping write letters of recommendation, resume writing, preparing for graduate school exams and interview preparation,” Jarrett said. “I will also help set up the tutors and learning assistants Student-Athlete Services has hired to provide help to those student-athletes.”

This job is challenging at times, especially if the athlete is not doing well in a particular class.

“The most difficult part of my job is having the difficult conversations with student-athletes about grades and their major choices,” Jarrett said. “Sometimes due to low grades or not meeting prerequisite requirements, students have to change their major. Having that conversation can be difficult to have.”

Although confronting the athletes on poor grades is tough, Jarrett said she enjoys helping them overcome this particular roadblock.

“The most rewarding part of my job is getting to instill the encouragement in student-athletes after they have failed a test or done poorly on an assignment,” Jarrett said. “Their spirits are crushed, and they have often given up. Helping them find their joy again and faith in themselves can be so rewarding. “

Jarrett said she loves that she has the opportunity to a play a part in student-athletes’ college careers.

“For many of them, college was a dream, and this is just the beginning,” Jarrett said. “Some are bound and determined to start a great career. Some could’ve never imagined being able to come to Baylor, play what they love and leave with a degree. I get to play a small part in that. Watching them graduate is by far the best gift. I may have helped and guided along the way, but they did it.”