University of Southern California

Office of the Provost

OCAAA Guidelines

Faculty Guidelines for Special Issues Relevant to Student-Athletes

The University strongly endorses the principle that student-athletes should be integrated into the general student body as fully as possible. Thus, USC expects that most interactions between faculty and student-athletes will be no different in nature or purpose than those with all other students. These students do, though, have a set of expectations imposed on them by the Athletic Department – staff and coaches – and the NCAA which are different than those imposed on other students. As a result, the academic progress of student-athletes is monitored differently and the demands of athletic competition schedules may create unusual conflicts with student-athletes’ academic responsibilities. This section is designed to identify and discuss some of the special issues that may arise because of the student’s participation in intercollegiate athletics, and how they may be handled.

1. Accommodations for missed classes

One of the first ways in which instructors learn that they have a student-athlete in class occurs when the student needs to miss class because of athletic competition.

To lessen lost class time, the NCAA has rules about the maximum number of competition dates permitted in each sport. In addition, the Pac-12 Conference and the University have scheduling rules designed to minimize missed class time. Nevertheless, some competition will conflict with class attendance. The number of missed classes will vary by sport. For example, most football games are played on Saturdays and only result in missed class time when the team must travel to an away game that requires departure earlier than midday on Friday. Golf generally is played during the day and mid-week, when the team has access to the golf course; this can produce frequent class conflicts. Further, more successful players in individual sports (such as golf or tennis) may stay at a tournament longer than less successful players, or may be invited to more tournaments.

USC has a policy with respect to classes missed for University-sanctioned events, including intercollegiate athletic competition.  This policy necessitates that student-athletes not be penalized when University-sanctioned competitions are scheduled in conflict with course activities or examinations.  When a class will be missed for competition, it is the student-athlete’s responsibility to approach the instructor in advance.  If an assignment is due on the date when class is missed, it would be reasonable for the instructor to require that it be turned in either before the class that will be missed, or at the first class meeting after the student returns.  If a test has been scheduled for the date when class is missed, reasonable options include: offering to give the test at an earlier date; arranging with SAAS to have the test administered by proctor (at the hosting institution) during the trip; or giving a make-up after the student’s return.  It is not permissible for instructors to deny student-athletes the opportunity to make up their course work or exams.

Most instructors indicate a make-up policy in the course syllabus. If the student-athlete foresees any problem with the policy, it is his or her responsibility to discuss the matter with the instructor at the beginning of the semester. If requested by the instructor, the student-athlete will provide a standard University form verifying his or her participation in an intercollegiate competition.

NCAA rules prohibit missing class for practice. Student-athletes should take practice schedules into account when enrolling for class. For a limited number of student-athletes, SAAS may solicit information from instructors concerning class attendance. If some special circumstance arises (e.g., a course for the major with a lab that conflicts with practice) it would be appropriate to expect the coach to make efforts to adjust that student’s practice schedule.

If a student-athlete misses class for reasons other than competition, any form of special treatment with respect to grading could violate both USC principles of academic integrity and NCAA rules.

2. Special academic reporting procedures

The NCAA allows – indeed requires – member institutions to provide supplemental academic support to those student-athletes who need it. In order to identify those students who may be having difficulty in a particular course and, thus, be in a position to provide appropriate additional academic support, Student-Athlete Academic Services has developed procedures for monitoring the student’s progress during the semester. Although this information theoretically could be obtained directly from the students, it is critical that information concerning progress accurately reflect the instructor’s viewpoint. The information obtained is discussed with the students and becomes part of a grade report that SAAS generates and distributes to coaches.

Currently, this monitoring is accomplished via a computer-generated progress report that is sent to each faculty member with student-athletes in his or her class. The report, which is sent during the sixth week of the semester, identifies the student-athlete, course, and instructor, and it requests information concerning current attendance and academic performance in the course. SAAS requests that the forms be returned within two weeks. If an instructor does not respond, SAAS may follow up the mailing with an email or telephone call to the instructor. These calls are made by the director of SAAS or one of the SAAS academic counselors.

A second progress report form is emailed during the eleventh week of the semester, requesting additional information. SAAS also needs to obtain information about each student-athlete’s final course grades as soon as possible after final exams so that students facing academic eligibility problems can be advised properly about the number of units they need to take during the next semester or summer school. SAAS staff will contact instructors of select student-athletes to obtain final grades.

SAAS also provides academic enrichment programs for all student-athletes through an individual or group tutorial program. The tutorial program is a nationally certified program and employs some 55–60 undergraduate and graduate tutors. Academic Support, a unit in the Division of Student Affairs, conducts orientation and training of tutors. The purpose of tutoring is to help the student achieve competence in a subject area, develop insight into the learning process, and provide training in the development and application of effective study skills.

3. Guidelines for contacts between faculty and athletic department staff relating to academic matters

SAAS staff performs much of the academic monitoring. In order to ensure that the legitimate informational needs of SAAS are met, and that faculty are not exposed to any undue influence from Athletic Department staff concerning the academic performance of student-athletes, the Provost has adopted the following guidelines. These guidelines include the special grade-reporting procedures described above and expressly prohibit contact between coaches and faculty concerning the academic progress of a student-athlete.


Authorized Contacts with SAAS Staff or Athletic Department


1. Mid-term Monitoring of Academic Progress

The Director may make written and oral requests for information concerning student-athlete mid-term academic status/progress for Academic and Support Services and SAAS Academic Counselors.

2. Tutor Consultations

Whenever a tutor is working with a student-athlete in connection with a particular course, SAAS will call or send a letter to the faculty member teaching the course and inform the instructor of this arrangement as well as the name of the tutor.

Personal consultations between SAAS tutors and instructors are permitted, but the student-athlete should be primarily responsible for discussing coursework and his or her progress with the teacher. Instructors who have concerns about a student-athlete’s progress are encouraged to discuss them with the student as well as with the tutor, SAAS Counselors, or the Tutorial Coordinator for SAAS.

3. Verification of Final Grades

The Director of SAAS or one of the SAAS Counselors may make written and oral requests for information concerning student-athlete final grades.

4. Exam Proctoring Requests

Requests for assistance in arranging for exams to be administered during away travel should be directed the Director of SAAS or an SAAS Counselor.

5.  Accommodations for Disability

Student-athletes requiring accommodation for disability must be registered with Disability Services and Programs (DSP). Any academic accommodations are arranged with DSP, the student-athlete and the course instructor. All arrangements and disability support services will be coordinated and delivered at the DSP office. The Director of DSP will supervise all services for athletes with disabilities.


Prohibited Contacts with SAAS Staff or Athletic Department


Except for the contacts described above (1-5), no Athletic Department or SAAS staff member may communicate with an instructor concerning the academic affairs of a student-athlete.

No coach may communicate with a faculty member concerning the academic affairs of a student-athlete.

No Athletic Department or SAAS staff member may communicate with an instructor in connection with student-athlete grade appeals.


Who To Contact If You Have Questions or Concerns


If you have a question concerning the information in this handbook, or concerning any matter involving a student-athlete, we suggest you contact one of the following people:

1. When to Contact the Provost, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs, or the Chair of the Oversight Committee

As the Oversight Committee for Athletic Academic Affairs is the university committee charged with oversight of academic issues with respect to student-athletes, it would be appropriate to contact either the Chair of the Oversight Committee or the Vice Provost’s or Provost’s office with any concerns about the policies, conduct or role of the SAAS office, either generally or as related to its involvement with a particular student-athlete in your class. The Oversight Committee is composed of your faculty colleagues, and the Chair is available and eager to discuss any questions, concerns, or dilemmas.


Professor S. Mark Young – Chair of OCAAA

George Bozanic & Holman G. Hurt Chair in Sports and Entertainment Business

Professor of Accounting

Leventhal School of Accounting

Marshall School of Business

ACCT 123, MC1421

(213) 740-4848


2. When to Contact the Faculty Athletic Representative

Contact the Faculty Rep if you need information about or an interpretation of an NCAA or Pac-12 rule, or if you have questions or information about a matter that you think may be a violation of the NCAA or Pac-12 rules.


Professor Clare Pastore

Faculty Athletics Representative

Gould School of Law

LAW 448, MC 0071

(213) 821-4410


3. When to Contact SAAS

Contact SAAS  directly if you would like to discuss questions, complaints, or concerns you may have about the attendance or academic progress of a particular student-athlete in your class, or if you need to make special arrangements for proctoring of a test to be administered during a trip for away competition.


Magdi  El Shahawy

Senior Associate Athletic Director

Student Athletic Academic Services

HER B30, MC 0602

(213) 740-0885


4. When to Contact Judicial Affairs

Contact Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards if you have questions or information concerning a possible violation of the University Student Conduct Code by any student, including student-athletes. In light of the NCAA requirements that student-athletes not be provided with extra benefits, it is important that student-athletes not be treated differently than other students with regard to possible academic integrity and student conduct violations.


Donna R Budar-Turner


Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards

STU 206, MC 4894

(213) 821-7373


5. When to Contact Other University Services

Student-athletes have the same access to all university services as other students on campus. These services include Academic Support Services, Disability Services and Programs the University Counseling Services and the Career Development Center. Faculty may wish to refer student-athletes to these services and facilities, just as they might refer any student in their class.


Christine Street

Executive Director

Disability Services and Programs

GFS 120, MC 1692

(213) 740-0776


Ilene  Rosenstein


Student Counseling Services

ESH 337, MC 3261

(213) 740-7711

Emergencies: (213) 740-6000


Carl Martellino

Executive Director

Career Planning and Placement Center

STU 101, MC 4897

(213) 740-7767