National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council Vol. 11 No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2010). Copyright © 2010 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Few university administrators today would argue against having more student athletes applying for and successfully completing honors curricula. Such students are great for PR. But, sad to say, coaches and faculty, at least at tier-1 universities like the University of Washington, are often suspicious of each other’s intentions. Some coaches see too much focus on education as a threat to their team’s success and ultimately their jobs; some faculty see athletes, especially in the revenue sports, as uncommitted to education, exploited by universities, and biding their time in school to enter the lucrative professional careers they believe await them. Yet, there exists a goal that both honors students and student athletes, faculty and coaches, share, a goal that could well provide the basis for beginning a productive relationship, namely the pursuit of excellence. In what follows, we make the case that Honors is uniquely situated to assist in the creative development of the way professors and coaches see student athletes. Our case is based on courses offered to student athletes that were overseen by the UW Honors Program and on the useful exchanges the program developed with Student Athletic Services and Undergraduate Academic Affairs, the unit in which the honors program is housed at the University of Washington. This three-way relationship was not part of a preconceived plan; rather, we followed where circumstances led. What we offer here thus represents observations and suggestions, not a fully developed model.