Cal Athletics making progress addressing challenges faced by college athletes

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Dear Editor:

Intercollegiate athletics across the country faces a complex and ever-changing landscape, and Cal Athletics is not alone in confronting these challenges (Cal Football Treats Players Poorly, Aug 7). We continually listen to student-athletes and work with our colleagues in the Pac-12 and NCAA to seek out ways we can improve, just as any good organization would. Through a collaborative effort, we have helped enact a number of reforms over the past several years, including adding the cost of attendance to the value of a scholarship, expanding access to medical coverage and beginning this year, providing required time off from athletic-based activities to allow more opportunities to engage in interests across campus. All of this is meant to focus on our primary goal: maximizing the experience for the hundreds of student-athletes who choose to attend this school every year.

We have also taken significant steps to improve graduation rates, and we have seen tremendous progress. The data cited in the article reflect results for student-athletes who enrolled eight to 11 years ago — numbers that are clearly unacceptable. Using the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, which offers a real-time snapshot of academic achievement, Cal football registered its highest-ever score this past spring. The figures show that the vast majority of Cal’s teams graduate student-athletes at rates similar to the general student body.

Providing world-class experience includes access to education, coaching, facilities, academic support and a host of other factors — something that exists at the world’s No. 1 public university. Yes, we can always strive to be better. But to say we treat student-athletes poorly is simply not true.

Mike Williams

Director of Athletics

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