Mike Olson, in his new position, will be assisting student athletes by getting the resources that they need, supporting them, and helping them navigate through college on the academic side.
Dixie State University has added a new associate athletic director for academic services and student-athlete welfare to assist with the higher academic standards in Division I.
The new position was given to Mike Olson and it is aimed at helping student-athletes with their academic requirements. Students will be held to a higher academic standard called APR, or academic progress rate, because of the transition to Division I. Olson began his new position on Jan. 1.
The APR accounts for the eligibility and retention of student-athletes for each academic term. It is designed to hold institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes. If the APR isn’t met, then the NCAA will withhold funding and post-season opportunities.
Olson will also oversee their welfare to make sure they are healthy and maximizing their experience at the college, as well as maintaining their scholarship eligibility. Student-athletes have to maintain a 2.3 GPA and the school has to maintain a 930 APR to compete in championships.
Olson said, “My job is to work specifically with student-athletes and their academics, making sure they have the resources that they need, supporting them and helping them to navigate through college on the academic side.”
Olson will coordinate resources in tutoring and other academic assistance for athletes.
In order to play an FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) team, and for that game to count for bowl eligibility, DSU has to offer 90% of its maximum scholarships, Boothe said.
Boothe said the position is a vital need to begin this transition.
Football player Darrius Nash, a junior communication studies major from Los Angeles, California, said, “Having that person that can link the two [athletics and academics] together and get us the help we need while doing football makes it a little bit easier.”
Boothe said each semester, DSU athletics continues to beat its highest GPA record. Last semester, student-athletes set the record for the highest GPA in the school’s athletic history with a 3.2 average.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Olson said. “I’m grateful to be on a college campus that is innovative and provides opportunities like this. I’m anxious to get going.”
Nash said maintaining football and academics can be difficult and athletes have to remember they are students first.
Boothe said the number of scholarships will increase with becoming Division I.
“This semester we want to educate our coaches, the campus, the community and our athletes,” Olson said. “We want to start laying the foundation for what it will take to become a successful Division I program. That starts with very clear communication and education.”
Olson will communicate the requirements student-athletes need to fulfill to maintain their scholarship eligibility.
Olson worked as DSU’s director of academic advisement for the last six years and has worked in academic advisement since 2009. He also worked as an assistant coach for the DSU’s men’s basketball team from 2005-2009.
“I absolutely love it,” Olson said. “It’s a perfect fit. It really combines my work in athletics before and my work in academics.”
Boothe said Olson is going to be the driving force behind student-athlete academics.
“I have a lot of emotions and feelings about that,” Nash said. “It feels good. When you look at the school’s history as far as being a junior college, going to Division II, [and] now becoming a Division I school, it shows the school is going to continue to thrive.”
DSU will be adding two new positions in the athletics department in July: a business administrator and an assistant compliance coordinator.
Nash said, “It affects us tremendously having that extra person to help us get through struggling with football and school at the same time.”
Olson said one of the highlights of his job is being able to interact with student-athletes and coaches.
“Feeling the energy behind athletics right now is more than I expected,” Olson said. “Great energy.”
Olson’s old position as director of academic advisement has been filled by Katie Armstrong and Deborah Decker.
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