New iPads Help Bulldogs Compete in the Classroom
The new iPads are helping Fresno State student-athletes stay connected throughout the season.
The new iPads are helping Fresno State student-athletes stay connected throughout the season.

Oct. 10, 2012

By Stephen Trembley

FRESNO, Calif. --- All 425 Fresno State student-athletes now have an additional resource to help compete in the classroom - one of Apple's iPads.

The iPads were secured by Fresno State through the National Collegiate Athletics Association's Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund. The NCAA provides support for many programs that "directly support the educational, financial, and health and safety needs of student-athletes."

The educational benefits also include scholarship programs (including the Association-wide postgraduate scholarship program, now in its fifth decade), degree-completion grants and internships.

"We've been talking about the program for a couple of years," Fresno State Deputy Director of Athletics Betsy Mosher said. "The NCAA's Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund can only be used in a way to directly benefit student-athletes and is not supposed to replace things you already do. One of the areas we always save money for are for catastrophic things that come up and the last few years we haven't had a huge number. We budget a large amount there and after a couple years, we had a large amount of money in one-time funds. You have to spend it down and it is required that you can only keep so much in there."

Every current Fresno State student-athlete were issued an iPad, which were installed with Pages, iStudy, Keynote and Numbers, and the university's Blackboard application that become critical resources to reduce any challenges posed by required travel to away games.

An Apple representative conducted four separate training sessions on how to best use the iPad that each student-athlete was required to attend before receiving the device.

"Once we actually got them, I was really excited and my entire team was really excited," Fresno State senior tennis student-athlete Olga Kirpicheva said. "It's actually really helpful with school. It's such a cool app. It makes you want to do even better."

Sixty percent of NCAA revenue is distributed directly to Division I conferences, which pass most of that money along to their member institutions to support their athletics programs. Another major use of NCAA revenue is the support of 89 national championships in 23 sports, including coverage of travel expenses for all participants.

A total of 96 percent of the NCAA's annual revenue is returned to its member schools either in direct payments or in programs and services.

A version of the Student Assistance Fund was first offered in 1999, after the NCAA inked a $6 billion broadcast deal with CBS. The decision to start the Fund, came from the NCAAs desire to give back to student-athletes more directly than through grants or other forms of aid that are often laden with restrictions. The Fund has grown each year since its inception.

David Berst, vice president of Division I, was part of a group that helped create the Fund.

"We wanted to ensure a level of funding that would directly benefit student-athletes," Berst said. "The Fund has paid a lot of important costs for students that otherwise would not be allowed because rules don't permit it or schools can't afford it."

The NCAA sends Student Assistance Fund money to conferences before the academic year begins. The conferences then either distribute money evenly to the schools, dole it out based on expected need on a school-by-school basis or hold onto the money, giving funds to schools when requested.

"As we continue to examine how to best support our student-athletes, it's important to remember that the Student Assistance Fund plays a key role in addressing the unmet financial needs that can develop in a student-athlete's life," said NCAA president Mark Emmert. "The Fund hasn't always gotten the attention it deserves, but it is a vital resource benefiting thousands of student-athletes."

The Student Assistance Fund has grown steadily since its inception and now makes available more than $66 million annually to tens of thousands of student-athletes to help cover expenses beyond the reach of scholarships.

The Fund, more often than not, isn't used in times of desperation or despair. Student-athletes routinely call upon the Fund out of simple, everyday need. Those without the means for pricy electronics can procure laptops or iPads - $1.67 million of Fund money was used to purchase school supplies in 2010-11.

Through the program at Fresno State, each student-athlete is given the one iPad, which becomes their property, cannot be sold or transferred to any other individual, and is not replaced by Fresno State if broken or stolen. No athletic department budget funds or any student fees were used to purchase the iPads.

Brian Burnsed of also contributed to this report.

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