The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Academic restrictions still an issue

One part of Phil Bennett’s Monday press conference delved into an issue intensely familiar to those loyal to the SMU football program – the restrictions the department still operates under in regard to admissions and academics on campus. And Bennett spoke honestly about what he felt was a thorn in his side during the six years he has been on the Hilltop.

“This is a tough job, let’s not lie about it,” he said. “To say we’re on equal footing with our competitors in a lot of areas would be a lie.”

Restrictions put in place in the post-Death Penalty era have been the bane of every head coach at SMU, but Bennett and Athletic Director Steve Orsini differed on whether the issue is still a problem for a football program that is still searching for footing.

“Steve knows it, Gerald [Turner, SMU’s President] knows it, that to get this thing where it needs to be there’s got to be some concessions made in a lot of different areas,” Bennett said. “Both academic, financial. From start to finish – the commitment.”

Restrictions have been slowly loosened since the football program returned in 1989. Bennett said the situation is better than when he arrived at SMU in 2002 and that he knew what he was getting into.

But he was frustrated by the lack of progress in making it easier to get transfers into the program. He said it was hard to get potential junior college recruits to come to the university because of the difficulty in transferring hours into SMU.

“The fact is that it could make it a little bit – a lot – easier than what it is,” Bennett said.

Bennett spent more time than he expected dealing with restrictions and at some points it would take him away from what he was trying to do on the field.

“You end up spending a lot of time on it when you could be focusing on some other things,” he said.

Orsini said that SMU is nationally competitive as far as admissions is concerned, but that not every change he wants to make has been done yet.

Orsini wants to be involved in the process if any athlete is having troubles being admitted to the university, and told every coach to ask him for help. Orsini hasn’t been asked to help out in one case.

Bennett and Orsini did agree on the need for more majors that would attract potential athletes to SMU.

Bennett lamented the lack of progress in developing the School of Education into a place that would house majors more friendly to athletics.

“A lot of kids like the fact that they can become coaches and teachers and educators,” Bennett said. “And at one point there was a little movement here that that was going to happen, and it’s slowly faded away.”

Orsini said the majors list at SMU is not as broad as the other universities the school is competing against.

“We’re trying to broaden the curriculum here for helping a lot of students, not just student athletes,” Orsini said.

A timeline to ensure that there are no barriers to student-athletes coming to SMU is being created, Orsini said, with the goal of any athlete wanting to come to SMU being able to.

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