Partnership Provides Academic Support To Student-Athletes

UW-Oshkosh's African American Studies Program has fused with the school's women's basketball team to form a partnership promoting and supporting academics and athletics on campus.

The African American Studies Program's UW-Oshkosh Women's Basketball Team Sponsorship is aimed at providing academic support for women basketball players while giving student athletes a better understanding and appreciation of the hard work and dedication of the institution's faculty.

Victoria Stimac, assistant director of athletics and senior woman administrator in that department, said this particular sponsorship is part of a greater effort to build relationships between UW-Oshkosh academic programs and athletic teams.

"This is extremely important as we strengthen our relationship throughout the UW-Oshkosh community," she said.

Stimac said the goal is to have all of UW-Oshkosh's 21 athletic teams sponsored by an academic department or program within the next five years. The current sponsorship is just the beginning of an ongoing connection between these two communities within the University.

Director of African American Studies Program Norlisha Crawford said their sponsorship of the women's basketball team seeks to provide support in the areas of promotion and fundraising, academic development and academic assistance when inquiring student athletes visit UW-Oshkosh. African American Studies also shows its support by having department members attend practices and games and invite athletes to the academic program's sponsored events, such as their fall social and lectures.

In October, African American Studies held an athletic panel discussion on the misconceptions and perceptions of athletic life on campus. Plans are in the works to hold a second panel in the spring with a subject related to Women's History Month.

The coach of the women's basketball team, Brad Fischer, said the team sponsorship is, in effect, a beneficial friendship that he hopes will spread to other academic programs and athletic teams.

"Our program is honored that AAS has reached out to us and is interested in working alongside our student-athletes," Fischer said. "We hope this can be a model for other departments and programs on campus to further help develop relationships between students and faculty."

Like the current team sponsorship, Stimac said that similar, future connections will require collaboration between the given academic department and athletic team to determine the needs for each program. This means that each sponsorship will be crafted to maximize the success and development of the programs involved.

"We are excited about the opportunities that will come in the future," Stimac said. "This will help our student-athletes understand the demands of being a faculty member as well as our faculty members understand the role of a Division III student-athlete."