SASSO History

The Ohio State University has maintained an academic support system for student-athletes since the late 1960’s. Originally, an assistant coach from each team monitored student-athletes’ academic progress. Eventually, Ohio State became one of the first institutions to hire a full time Athletic Counselor to monitor the academic progress and eligibility status of student-athletes (primarily football). As the importance of the position was noticed, the “Brain Coaches” continued their academic support by monitoring study table, providing tutorial support, checking class attendance, and reporting student-athlete grades to their respective coaches.

In the early 1980’s, the staff size was two full-time and two graduate assistant staff members; two full-time and one GA for the men’s teams, and one GA for the women’s teams. With the disbanding of the AIAW and the infusion of women’s programs into the NCAA, the GA for the women’s teams was promoted to a full time position. The staff size increased over time and responsibilities have grown in scope to the point where the Student-Athlete Support Services Office was officially named in 1994.

That same year (1994) brought the design and implementation of the “Majority of One Program”, a support program for minority student-athletes developed by James Hall, Athletic Counselor. Three athletic counselor positions were added to reduce the counselor-to-student-athlete ratio and to provide expanded programs and services. Programming expanded further with the addition of 2 academic courses for students; Edu-PAES 263 (Contemporary Issues Affecting Intercollegiate Student-Athletes), designed and implemented by Dr. Kate Riffee and Edu-PAES 315 (Positive Transitions for Student-Athletes), designed and implemented by Darin Meeker, now the SASSO Associate Director.

The current SASSO staff includes a Director, an Associate Director, Assistant Director, five, full-time Athletic Academic Counselors, Assistant Athletic Academic Counselors, an Academic Resources Coordinator; two, full-time Learning Specialists, assistant Learning Specialist, an Office Manager, and a full-time Front Desk Coordinator. All staff have advanced degrees in higher education and/or counseling, with many years of experience in intercollegiate athletics and/or education.

The SASSO program also employs many individuals who work as office assistants, tutors, Study Table proctors, academic mentors, and computer lab monitors. Additionally, graduate students from the Counselor Education and Higher Education Administration programs assist SASSO staff through internship and practicum experiences.