OXFORD, Ohio – Craig Bennett, Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Support Services, is always searching for better ways to improve the overall experience for Miami University’s student-athletes.

Last October, he and his staff organized a “Meet and Greet” session at the Walter L. Gross Jr. Family Student Development Center where Miami University’s faculty and staff were personally introduced to Intercollegiate Athletics’ coaches and administrators. Nearly a hundred instructors, counselors and other academic personnel attended the get-together, exchanging ideas as to how to make more meaningful interactions with current and future student-athletes.

"This is an event I have always wanted to have” said Bennett, "I feel fortunate to be in a position where I interact daily with the dedicated faculty and staff across this great campus as well as with Miami coaches that truly care about the overall experience of their student athletes."

“I was thrilled with the turn-out for our first event,” said Bennett, “and, even more so, what actually got accomplished over muffins and coffee during that 120-minute early morning gathering.”

For example, there was the conversation between clinical faculty member Nancy Parkinson and new men’s basketball coach John Cooper.

“In just a simple one-on-one conversation, Nancy pointed out to Coach Cooper what kinds of dormitory food his student-athletes should be eating to improve their academic and athletic success,” said Bennett.

Other coaches got to have personal contact with faculty-staff members who prospective student-athletes meet during campus recruiting visits.

"Having a recruit and their family meet the faculty in their chosen degree program is one of the most critical components of a recruit’s official visit, and often-times is the deciding factor of whether or not they attend the University," Bennett said.

Coaches also got valuable feedback from faculty members about the academic progress and talents of numerous individual student-athletes.

Bennett is already planning another similar event for the future, this time where student-athletes themselves will be in the spotlight as speakers.

“Sometimes we need to showcase how our student-athletes are able to balance a challenging academic schedule with their rigorous physical training, and travel,” said Bennett. “Hopefully, their stories might provide new insight and even spark some new ideas for our faculty-staff.”

Fall semester grades are about to be finalized and Bennett is extremely optimistic about the results.

“This just might be our best semester ever,” he said. “And we want our faculty and staff to know what an important role they played in achieving that success.”

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