New athletic mentorship program to strengthen ties between athletics and academics

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville announced a new program to strengthen the connection between athletics and academics. Launching this fall, the Athletic Mentor for the Pioneers (AMP) program will match faculty and academic staff mentors with athletic teams in order to enhance the experience of the 500-plus student-athletes on campus, as well as the greater university and Platteville community. 

The faculty and staff mentors will build relationships with the student-athletes and coaches on their assigned athletic team, giving everyone the opportunity to gain insights into both the athletics and academic side of the student experience. 

“This will give the AMP mentors an inside look at the commitment and dedication required by an intercollegiate athlete,” said Dr. Tim Deis, a professor of mathematics who helped spearhead the new program. “It will also help communicate to athletes and coaches the academic expectations of a college student.” 

Dr. Kristina Navarro, director of athletics and assistant chancellor for sports administration, said she is looking forward to building these connections between athletics and academics – which is an important component of the NCAA Division III philosophy.

“In a Division III institution, athletes don’t receive scholarships,” said Navarro. “Because of this, the choice our athletes make to play Division III athletics in college is firmly rooted in academic opportunities. Our student-athletes have a strong work-ethic, perseverance, resilience and can overcome obstacles. They aren’t playing for compensation and most will become professionals in areas outside of sport. They are truly dual-focused – they are really students and athletes versus athletes and students.”

Navarro added that the new Athletic Mentor for the Pioneers program is a fitting extension of the Pioneer Leadership Institute, launched earlier this year, which offers leadership and mentorship activities to student-athletes. 

“Our student-athletes are involved in a lot of leadership spaces on campus,” she said. “When they are wearing their jerseys, people look up them as leaders.” 

Both Navarro and Deis emphasize that athletics plays a significant role in the college experience, beyond that of the student-athlete, which is an additional reason why this new program will have wide-reaching impacts.

“Athletics provides an important experience to non-athletes who go to games, have the opportunity to work in the athletics environment or who are part of the marching band. It gives them, and the community, a reason to be excited,” said Deis. 

Navarro added, “When you know someone you are rooting for at athletic events, it’s just more fun. Mentors can go to the events knowing they are going to support someone that they have an interpersonal relationship with beyond the classroom.”

Information on the program will be sent to the campus on Wednesday, April. 27. Volunteer faculty and academic staff mentors will be selected this summer. For additional information about the program, contact Tim Deis at