Faculty Handbook

Faculty Relationships with Student Athletes

Last updated: 4/15/2020


This statement was issued by the Office of the Provost on August 6, 1996 and revised on August 4, 2003 and April 15, 2020.

Michigan State University enrolls more than 700 student-athletes who participate in 25 intercollegiate sports. MSU recognizes the special responsibilities and privileges of these student-athletes. The University is committed to provide the environment and support necessary for student-athletes to establish and realize high levels of academic and athletic success.

Student-athletes are governed by policies and regulations of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Big Ten Conference as well as by Michigan State University. All of these regulations are intended to establish shared restrictions and expectations for all student-athletes while recognizing the special burdens created by intercollegiate athletic competition.

The NCAA and Big Ten Conference regulations cover all aspects of recruiting, academic eligibility, and athletic financial aid of matriculated student-athletes. For faculty members, there are two general guidelines that are important to remember:

  1. You cannot do anything for a student-athlete that you would not do for another student in a similar situation. On the other hand, you should not refuse to do something for a student-athlete, if you would do it for another student.
  2. There are some things that you can do for an individual student that you cannot do for an individual student-athlete: for example, you cannot buy anything, not even a soft drink, for a student-athlete; you cannot provide a ride for a student-athlete; you cannot let a student-athlete charge a long distance telephone call to your business or home telephone number.
Policy and Process Items

ACADEMIC PROGRESS REPORTS: These reports are sent electronically to faculty members by the Office of the Registrar during the fifth and eleventh weeks of Fall and Spring semesters.  If you are teaching a course and receive the forms, please fill them out and respond as fully as possible. The Student-Athlete Support Services Office is charged with monitoring academic progress for student-athletes, and needs the information in a timely way. If you have concerns about the academic performance of a student-athlete, you can recommend academic assistance for the student-athlete by calling the Director of Student-Athlete Support Services.

ACADEMIC ADVISING: Counselors in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics do not provide academic advising. Student-athletes are advised by advisors in their majors or in the University Undergraduate Division (UUD) or by the assistant/associate dean of the college in which they are enrolled and should be referred to these sources. However, student-athletes can receive additional academic support from Student-Athlete Support Services, e.g., assignment to a study hall, availability of a tutor or referral to additional services provided on campus.

CLASS ATTENDANCE: Student-athletes are excused from class when competing in official events or games. Athletic Council recommended that competition schedules be so constructed as to limit the number of missed days to seven per semester. (This may not always be possible.) Each student-athlete should bring a team schedule to the instructor at the beginning of the semester to verify the excused absences. However, an excused absence does not excuse the student-athlete from completing the work assigned. [Student-athletes are frequently advised to schedule classes with mandatory attendance policies in the off-season or summer term.]

The faculty and staff should be sensitive to the absences so that students who absent themselves from classes on these days are not seriously disadvantaged. It is the responsibility of those students who wish to be absent to make arrangements in advance with their instructors. Some instructors attempt to cover all reasons for student absences from required academic events such as quizzes or exams with a blanket policy, e.g., allowing the student to drop one grade or two quizzes without penalty. If this is meant to extend to athletic events, the instructor should state this clearly at the beginning of the term. If instructors require make-up exams, they retain the right to determine the content of the exams and the conditions of administration, giving due consideration to equitable treatment.

ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT CONTACTS: Coaches are not permitted to call instructors or TAs assigned to courses. Student-Athlete Support Services or the college or department or UUD academic advisor may appropriately contact faculty members about a student-athlete's progress, attendance or behavior. However, any undue attempt to influence your judgment or secure a particular action on behalf of a student-athlete should be reported immediately to your department chairperson.

INCOMPLETES: A student-athlete must make up incomplete coursework and have the grade entered in Campus Solutions before the first day of class in the next semester if the course is necessary for academic eligibility. Authorized staff in departments and colleges that offer the course enter the final grade in Campus Solutions. This eligibility-related rule is more stringent for student-athletes than the University rule is for all students and can be crucial for competition.

PRIVACY OF RECORDS: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits dissemination of any information about a student-athlete's academic progress to anyone but the student, the student's advisor, and the Student-Athlete Support Services Office unless the student-athlete grants permission for this information to be shared.

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