The Jerry and Gene Jones Family Student-Athlete Success Center has brought valuable changes to the lives of student-athletes, a Razorback Athletics official said.
The Student-Athlete Success Center, which is located north of Bud Walton Arena, provides services to all 460 athletes at the UofA, said Eric Wood, associate athletic director of student-athlete services. Student-athletes often require campus services at inconvenient times because of practice schedules, Wood said. The center helps meet that need.
The building is home to a wellness area for psychological and nutritional needs, a career center and a mandatory financial-literacy class, Wood said. Those services are available elsewhere on campus, but many of those resources are closed by the time student-athletes are finished with practice and class. The Student-Athlete Success Center is open until 10 p.m. each day to meet the needs of athletes.
“I think that one thing that’s really benefited me is the nutrition center,” said Kelsey Brooks, a women’s basketball player. “It makes it really easy after class to go get a healthy meal. With the grab-and-go window, you don’t even have to go in the building.”
Tutoring services are also available in the center, Wood said. The center has as many as 120 appointments a day for students who need academic help. Tutoring is designed to help students maintain a high GPA and graduate.
“Our goal is always to graduate our students,” Wood said. “We want to make sure they’re prepared for a career outside of athletics, and a good GPA can help with that.”
The student-athlete GPA has risen since 2008, Wood said. The average GPA among athletes is 3.24, and it is still on the rise, he said. The graduation rate has also increased.
One of the benefits of the center is its size, which is 55,000 square feet, Wood said.
“The facility gives more space and better technology to make sure it keeps the students successful,” Wood said.
Some students are concerned that the administration is showing favoritism to student-athletes, but the center is necessary for the personal growth of athletes, as well as the success of athletic programs, Wood said. In addition, the building improves the reputation of the UofA, he said.
“Right or wrong, the athletic department of a school is often seen as its front porch,” Wood said. “People will see how great the whole house is, but many people are first impressed by the front porch. With the Success Center, we can help the university look like an even better house.”
Athletes understand that it is a privilege to have the center, he said.
“Having the center makes us feel good, and it makes us feel special,” Brooks said. “We care about the university so much, and they’re giving back to us like we matter. We, as athletes, are blessed to have that facility and all of the things that it offers for us.”
The Student-Athlete Success Center was built through a $10.65 million gift from Jerry and Gene Jones, Wood said. No university dollars were spent on the project.
The center was dedicated Sept. 19.