Carodine helps balance academics with athletics
Published: Monday, January 13, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 11:45 p.m.
Keith Carodine was an assistant basketball coach for California State University, Los Angeles when he had an experience that would lead to his present job - associate athletic director for academic affairs at the University of Florida.
A student-athlete transferred into Cal-State who had earned an associate's degree but "couldn't spell any words that were three syllables."
"The standards weren't what they are now," he said. "I didn't want to see people get used."
A former college basketball player, Carodine runs interference between student-athletes and academic trouble, overseeing a $1.92 million operation that aims to keep them academically eligible to play and on track for graduation.
"We work very hard in conjunction with the university administration and admissions office to ensure there is a proper balance between athletics and academics," he said.
Dr. Nick Cassisi, faculty representative to the SEC and NCAA, said UF is lucky to have Carodine, "because he knows how to reach these kids."
He played Division II basketball for West Los Angeles Community College and then Cal-State L.A. before earning his doctorate in education with an emphasis in sports management from the University of New Mexico in 1987.
"He's been through the gamut personally, and to be honest, they can't fool him," Cassisi said. "They have a tremendous respect for him. He's sort of like a friendly godfather."
Ask any student-athlete about UF's academic support services, and talk will turn to "Dr. Carodine," or "Dr. C" as some call him.
"Dr. C. will get on your butt pretty bad," said Mark Jansen, a former scholarship swimmer at UF who is still on campus - as a first-year medical student.
"They'll put you on probation and get teachers to fill out an attendance sheet," he said. "Regardless of academic standing, your professors turn in your grades and you might not travel if your grades are under par.
"You don't want to get a call from Dr. Carodine."
Carodine seems to relish his role as the friendly enforcer.
Some student-athletes may go four years and never need prodding, he said. But every year there are freshmen who are in for a shock.
"The process for some freshmen - it's an orientation," Carodine said.
"Some kids you have to tell them, 'You're going to sit right in front of me and you're going to do this work - and you will do it.' But after awhile they get it.
"Should you have to do it? Not in an ideal situation, no," he said.
"You shouldn't have to teach somebody to study," he said. "But you'd be amazed . . . it's not just an athletic or an academically marginal phenomenon.
"You'd be amazed how many kids come to UF, and it just came so easy for them in high school, but now they have to learn to study."
Carodine said, "You go over to the honors dorm and they're teaching them time management; they're teaching them study skills and they're teaching them the same basic skills that we're teaching our kids.
"We're a little more emphatic. We have a little more hammer because we can withhold some things or suspend them from competition."
To that end, Carodine credits the coaches, who hold great sway over the players, for keeping their student-athletes in line academically.
"All our coaches are good, but we have had a couple of situations were people missed a couple of classes and (Head Football) Coach (Ron) Zook was actually there in study hall to meet them," he said. "And that makes a huge difference."
"You go around the country and I talk with some of my peers, and their coaches are not as involved with these students as much academically," Carodine said. "They go like, 'Wow, your head football coach was there at study hall?'
"I said, 'Our head football coach was there at study hall waiting, and for those who came late, they had a little surprise that afternoon.' They weren't late anymore," Carodine said.
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