Coaches spend countless hours every year recruiting players based on athleticism, strength, agility and talent, but Boise State requires much more of their players. Over the last 10 years, and for many years preceding, Bronco athletics has made a firm push to acquire student athletes who have an equally strong commitment in the classroom as they do on the field.
Since leaving Washington State to assume his position as Assistant Athletics Director for Academic Services at Boise State in 2002, Gabe Rosenvall has developed Bronco athletics into one of the most well-respected athletic departments in the class room.
Boise State football finished the 2011-12 academic year with tied with Yale for the third highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) in the nation — behind only Northwestern University (996), Davidson College (996). In 2007, under the watch of Rosenvall and his four-adviser team, Boise State student athlete’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) reached an all-time high of 3.01 in the fall semester.
Rosenvall oversees the entire athletic academic advising team, but works most closely with football and men’s basketball. Though he has made noticeable improvements to Boise State athletics’ classroom performance, Rosenvall credits football head coach Chris Petersen, men’s basketball coach Leon Rice and all of the coaches at Boise State for the success of the programs academically.
“Really, it’s about setting and expectation and coaching students up to that level, and the coaches reinforcing that,” Rosenvall said. “Most of the credit goes to the coaches. We like to think of ourselves as part of their staffs.”
The importance of advisement for student athletes cannot be understated, and most of Rosenvall’s work happens with freshman. However, athletic academic advisors keep close tabs on the athletic department as a whole to make sure everyone stays on track.
Though advisors don’t work as closely with student athletes in their sophomore, junior and senior years, special attention is paid toward those with learning disabilities and those having difficulty adjusting to life as a Division I student athlete.
Freshmen commonly meet with an athletic academic adviser once each week.
“You have to know how to take notes better, how to prepare for exams, how to read your text effectively,” Rosenvall said. “That’s a big part with some of those students that weren’t as prepared for college level academics, and then you throw on a very demanding athletic schedule, so time management is a huge thing we’re coaching up.”
Student athletes are put under constraints not placed on the average student in addition to their athletic responsibilities. In order for a student to remain athletically eligible, the NCAA requires him or her to complete 20 percent of their major requirement credits.
Each student athlete must also determine their major after the conclusion of their sophomore year or they face ineligibility. Rosenvall maintains strong line of communication with Coach Petersen to ensure that the football team meets all of their requirements throughout the year.
“The coaching staffs really come in and help back us up, in terms of setting the expectation and supporting what we as advisors are trying to coach them up with,” Rosenvall said.
Boise State came into the spotlight on the football field over the past 10 years, but because of Rosenvall, Bronco athletics has dominated in the classroom, too.