Student Athletes

As student athletes cope with the common challenges of college, they must also deal with the added expectations of participating in their sports. While time management and good study skills are necessary for any successful student, for the student athletes, they become imperative. To participate during a season, athletes must remain enrolled in at least 12 credit hours of coursework. At the same time, athletes may be devoting up to 20 hours per week in training, practices, and competitions. Add to this the stresses of relationships, jobs, or homesickness that many students face, and it is easy to see that student athletes may benefit from the input of a concerned advisor.

As an advisor of a student athlete, you have a wonderful opportunity to build rapport by showing an interest- attend a sporting event, send emails to wish the student luck or to congratulate him/her. Once a connection is established, the student will be more likely to seek and to consider your advice.

Understanding the Situation

To best advise a student athlete, it is important that you have an understanding of the rules and policies governing DSU student athletes.

  • DSU is affiliated with the Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC-10) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and operates under NAIA eligibility requirements. In addition to all the requirements DSU places on all students, student athletes must meet the following:
  • To participate as freshmen, students must meet NAIA requirements. Ineligible freshmen may not participate for the first two semesters they are in college.
  • To be eligible to participate, student athletes must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits during the season of participation.
  • To participate in a second season, students must have accumulated at least 24 credit hours.
  • To participate in a third season, students must have accumulated at least 48 credit hours and have maintained a total cumulative GPA of at least a 2.00.
  • To participate in a fourth season, students must have accumulated at least 72 credit hours, accumulated at least 48 institutional credit hours in general education and/or the student's field of study, and have maintained a total cumulative GPA of at least a 2.00.

In addition to earning a set number of credit hours and maintaining a specific GPA to remain eligible, oftentimes students must meet these same requirements to maintain an athletic scholarship. Therefore, care obviously must be given when advising students to register, drop, or withdraw from a course.

Because students must consider many items when contemplating a withdrawal, the Athletic Department requires the athlete to consult with the head coach. The policy, found in the DSU Student Athlete Policy and Procedure Handbook, reads as follows:

Withdrawal from a course

In order to ensure academic eligibility, a student-athlete contemplating withdrawal from a scheduled course must adhere to the following procedures:

  1. Before a withdrawal occurs, consult with the head coach about eligibility and permission to withdraw.
  2. To be eligible to participate, a student-athlete must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits during the season of participation. (Note: The 000 level courses do not count towards the 12 credits for athletic eligibility.)

Reminding your athlete advisees that they must follow this procedure should become part of the advising process.

Working with the Athletic Department

The athletic director and the coaches at DSU are committed to helping student athletes succeed both athletically and academically. To help athletes academically, the Athletic Department requires all incoming freshmen and transfers and all athletes who do not have a cumulative 2.0 GPA to spend a minimum of 3 hours a week in Study Table. If an advisee is having academic difficulty, you could discuss how this time is being used and help the student set goals to use the time more wisely. In addition, make sure students are aware of resources such as tutor services, the Student Success Center, SMARTHINKING and the OWL.

When advising student athletes, the athletic director and the coaches are your best resource. To find the coaching staff for a sport, visit the Athletic Department website at

Last Updated: 7/31/12