As an incoming student at Sam Houston State University (whether a true freshman or a transfer), students are required by university policy to live in on-campus housing their first year.
For student-athletes, the same rule applies to them. SHSU Associate Athletic Director for Student Services Chris Thompson shed some light on the matter.
“The student-athletes are students first, so they follow the same principles as everyone else,” Thompson said. “As a freshman you are required to live in the dorm—student or student-athlete. After your freshman year you can live where you wish. There is not athletic housing. For our foreign/out of state student-athletes that may not have a vehicle, they find an apartment or residence that is close and allows them to walk to classes. The student-athletes are not directed where they live.”
For student athletes, especially those who do not have scholarships, earning money can be difficult as they cannot really commit to a job (unless on-campus) that will work around their athletic schedule; so, any kind of scholarship, whether it be from their athletics or through other means (GPA, work-study, etc.) helps the athletes a lot.
Thompson explained how even though they are student athletes, and no special favors are given towards their living arrangements.
“NCAA rules prohibit reduced rent or special benefits in regard to housing,” Thompson said. “Student-athletes may select to have a roommate that is a teammate or non-athlete roommate where they select to live. Student-athletes arrange their own housing, apply with Residence Life or the off-campus of their choice, make their own deposit and handle their responsibilities. Once the residence is determined, the student-athlete is required to submit their residence with our NCAA Compliance Office in athletics in an NCAA form that goes into our NCAA Compliance database for record keeping.”
Of course, a benefit of living together with other teammates is building a chemistry that can help them out on the field of play. Thompson went into a little bit of depth about this subject and how that is approached by the coaching staff and athletes of a certain sport.
“The coach likes to guide those student-athletes to live together,” Thompson said. “Nine times out of 10, they don’t know who it is, but from a standpoint it’s the schedule. So, for example, like soccer and football practice in the morning and cross country and track, they are up at five in the morning heading to practice. With a regular student, that schedule may not be conducive. So, that is the things they look at, especially as far as schedules and then trying to keep the athletes together as much as possible just from a convenience factor and schedules.”
So, in the end, student-athletes are treated the same as a regular students when it comes to where they live. They get a choice of wherever they want to, with whoever they want to just like a regular undergrad or graduate student. No perks, no special benefits. No athlete mansion anywhere in site. However, this does bring a little bit of normality to the athletes. They are students, just like any other Bearkat at SHSU.