Players learn to balance school, football, social lives

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    It’s hard enough playing major college football while tackling a normal course load. But try factoring in majors in accounting, finance and management and keeping a 3.0 GPA – plus maintaining a girlfriend.Senior defensive end Jamison Newby is able to do all of those things and isn’t the only player who juggles a busy schedule and the demands of football.

    “You just have to learn how to manage your time,” Newby said, “and learn when you can do things and when you can’t.”

    Newby said it helps to have such accommodating professors, especially in a tough major like business.

    “Once a professor went and taught me an entire class,” Newby said. “He sat me down and, just like he had class, went over the notes. They take care of us when we need help.”

    Newby said his schedule isn’t as bad as it seems. He doesn’t have class on Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

    Mark Cohen, director of athletics media relations, said he’s surprised by Newby’s schedule.

    “That’s crazy that he only has class on Tuesdays and Thursdays as a triple major,” Cohen said.

    Cohen said while having multiple majors is impressive and rare, crazier things have happened. A recent TCU graduate who played soccer was had four majors, he said.

    Like Newby, Matt Panfil, a sophomore linebacker, said he stays busy with classes and his girlfriend.

    “I go straight from class to lunch then straight to football every day,” said Panfil, a premajor. “I usually grab something on-the-go for lunch and don’t get to studying until 8 o’clock at night.”

    Panfil said he only sees his girlfriend about an hour a day. Weekends are the exception, when they see each other Saturday nights after the games and Sunday for church service.

    “I just feel bad that I don’t give her the time and attention that she deserves,” Panfil said. “I try to make it up in the summer.”

    None of the football players have jobs during the season, said Gary Patterson, head football coach. And, since the NCAA regulates the amount of hours each player can practice per week, players enjoy the luxury of more free time, he said.

    “It’s not like the old days when you could practice for however many days you wanted to, or go out and recruit until you ran out of money,” Patterson said. “We sign forms every week for the amount of time a young man spends practicing. Win, lose or draw, you only have ‘x’ amount of time to practice. You only get 20 hours a week.”

    The athletics department can, however, regulate the amount of time the players are spending on their studies. Each player must have at least a 2.0 GPA in order to play.

    “If (a player) doesn’t have a certain GPA, he is what we call ‘at risk’ and is assigned study hall time,” Patterson said. “That can range anywhere from four to eight hours a week, which is very minimum.”

    Other than the lifting, practicing and meeting – all of which count toward the 20-hour practice maximum, and potential study hours, the players are required to stay in a hotel together on the nights before game days, even home games.

    “It’s to get our mind in the game and to take away distractions,” Newby said.

    Staying off-campus to prepare for games isn’t just a TCU tradition, Cohen said. He said it’s a common practice for a lot of schools.

    Newby said even though there aren’t specific rules of conduct off the field, players are still reminded to be good on a daily basis.

    “They can’t lock us up- – even though they kind of try sometimes,” Newby said. “They keep an eye on us. They like to know where we are and what we’re doing so they can take care of us if there’s a problem.”

    Cohen said the athletics department does manage the men when it comes to media. This is because the players are so busy that they have to lay down some restrictions about who talks to whom and when, Cohen said.

    Regulation of the players’ free time and media exposure does not include monitoring Facebook, Patterson said. “All I can do is to just give them good advice,” Patterson said. “You have to be very careful about all that kind of stuff.