Davis believes summer school exemplifies commitment to student-athletes’ well being
For Brian Davis, who is in his ninth year at Texas and his 18th year with Head Coach Mack Brown, there is no off-season.
Which, really, is OK with the assistant athletics director for academic affairs for the Longhorns’ football program who just completed another summer with the team on campus, taking advantage of a great opportunity.
“We all know that there has been criticism of the NCAA through the years regarding some of its rules concerning the student-athletes,” Davis began. “But, when the decision was made that student-athletes could be on campus and take six hours of summer school, that was a positive thing.
“This certainly was a decision made with the welfare of the student-athletes in mind. And that is why we're all in this business – for the welfare of the student-athletes.”
Davis believes the summer school decision was a no-brainer.
“It allows the student-athlete to catch up on his school work or, in the case of many of our guys, get ahead in their work in order to lighten their course load during the season,” he said. “If summer school is something that would benefit an engineering student, why not allow it to benefit student-athletes?”
Davis noted that is of particular help to the incoming freshmen on the team.
“When the freshmen first get on campus, you see these wide-eyed looks,” he said. “Allowing them to experience those wide-eyed looks in June before all of the students are on campus, before the demands and pressure of practice is a great help to them. This is a whole new territory for them. They can kind of ease into things.
“Again this summer, all of our guys had a great experience. Every day was very positive.”
Davis explained that the student-athletes enroll in three hours in each of the two summer sessions. The first session began on June 1. They also are allowed to work with Jeff Madden, the assistant athletics director for strength and conditioning.
“Then, we get them for two hours each day,” Davis said of his academics staff. “Between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., we talk to them about the importance of academics. We talk to them about life skills. We talk to them about accountability.”
The availability of summer school enables Davis and his staff to work with the student-athletes on what is Brown’s top priority – seeing them earn their diploma.
“We have been working with the student-athletes on the football team to put themselves in position to graduate in December,” Davis said. “For the guys who are going to the NFL Draft Combine and workout days, they have the ability to spend the spring on that and they already have graduated.
“We had 16 guys who played in the Rose Bowl last year who had graduated the month before.
Last year, Michael Huff only needed three hours in the fall in order to graduate. We all know they can come back to school to finish, but Mack believes it is so much easier on the kids to get it done while here.”
Which isn’t to say that they won’t come back, as Davis was reminded this summer when D.D. Lewis, an All Big 12 performer his senior season in 2001, returned to complete the three hours he needed to earn his degree. Lewis, who was not drafted, has been with the Seattle Seahawks since 2002.
“There’s a guy who played in the Super Bowl last year, but he came back to make certain he had his degree,” said Davis, who praised Lewis for his commitment, holding him up as an example of how Brown and the staff drive home the point on the importance of getting a diploma.