Gov. Norm Bangerter has proclaimed Thursday as "Student-Athlete Day" in Utah as part of a national observance.
Among the objectives of National Student-Athlete day are increasing academic expectations, encouraging student-athletes to become involved in all school activities and publicizing encouraging examples of student-athletes' performances.Korla Woods, the assistant director of ethnic student affairs for the University of Utah, selected former Ute football players Erroll Tucker and Molonai Hola to witness the signing of the proclamation in Bangerter's office Tuesday. Tucker, who plays for the Buffalo Bills, has returned to school to complete work for his degree. Hola, who completed his eligbility last fall, is the newly-elected student body president.
"I appreciate the governor's involvement and his recognizing the importance of student-athletes and what they lend to the Utah society," said Woods.
Former Ute athletes Tyrone Medley, a third circuit judge in West Valley City, and Dr. Ronald Coleman, a teacher in the university's department of history and ethnic studies, wrote open letters in support of the observance.
"In high school, I recognized that if I couldn't make it in professional basketball, that academics would be my insurance policy for a successful life, a better life," wrote Medley, a basketball standout in the early 1970s.
"Recently, there has been quite a bit of criticism, and some of it justifiable, about college coaches and their lack of concern for their athletes off the field. There is another side which doesn't receive the attention it should. When I was recruited by the University of Utah, the coaches promised my parents to `help me grow up.' They kept their promise and worked with me on and off the field," wrote Coleman, a football player in the mid 1960s.
National Student-Athlete Day is project of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society. Among the 1989 national award winners, credited with giving student-athletes a proper sense of focus and priorities regarding education and athletics is Mike Sheppard, New Mexico's football coach.