As a former student-athlete, Becky Pugh understands the importance of providing solid guidance to high school students interested in participating in athletics at the college level.
The associate athletics director for UNLV’s Student Athlete Academic Services (SAAS), which is part of the Academic Success Center, leads a program designed to help them make this transition.
She and her staff make regular presentations at local high schools on issues such as academic eligibility, compliance with NCAA regulations, and university rules for student-athletes.
Pugh, ’08 BS Physical Education, said the main focus of her office is to serve student-athletes in their transition and adjustment to college as well as their retention. The former UNLV softball player said SAAS provides the resources for students to achieve success in the classroom and in life from enrollment to graduation – and in their future careers and graduate study.
But a strong interest in the community and its emerging athletes has led her and others to develop an outreach mission for the office as well.
“Working in this field, we all understand the need for the education of prospects,” Pugh said. “We want to help them get off to a good start on their future college path.”
The program started as a volunteer experience for the staff of SAAS and the NCAA compliance staff. Since Pugh began leading her office, there has been more emphasis placed on community outreach.
“We want to make sure our community knows that UNLV offers these presentations,” Pugh said, adding that she and her team proactively contact the high schools to ensure they are on her office’s presentation schedule. They are continuing to provide presentations remotely on request during the pandemic.
Pugh said the content of the presentations at local high schools changes over time as the rules and regulations of NCAA athletics evolve.
The staff at SAAS volunteer to do the outreach in the schools.
“I am happy to say that all staff members willingly volunteer and contribute in some way,” Pugh said. “So, we have about seven or eight staff members participating each year.”
She credits David Wedley, the SAAS director, and the rest of the team with the success of the program.
Pugh said she wishes she had received presentations like these when she was in high school.
“I didn’t hear this type of presentation while I was in high school, and that is what motivates me and the SAAS staff to continue this service,” Pugh said, noting that lack of information can have serious consequences for young athletes.
“During the recruitment process, my club coach told me to delay taking the SATs in order to compete in a tournament,” she recalled, and the result was she didn’t make an important deadline. “I couldn’t go on official visits right away, and several colleges dropped me from their recruit list for other prospects.”
Pugh was a UNLV softball player while she pursued a bachelor of science degree in K-12 physical education, which she obtained in 2007. Two years later, she earned her master’s degree in athletic administration.
Even during her time as a student, Pugh was working in the UNLV athletics department as a compliance assistant, and she has worked her way up in the organization. Along the way, she has always strived to help student-athletes, no matter where they are in their journeys.
As UNLV and the athletics department have changed over time, Pugh has remained dedicated to student-athlete success and sees her service to the community as an extension of this goal.
Her service on UNLV’s Community Engagement Council is a part of this effort, she said. It has enhanced her recognition of the importance of giving back to the community.
“It is important for athletics to be involved on the council because the department is a part of the university and a part of its efforts to achieve our Top Tier goals,” she said. “Collaboration on this council is very important, as we help one another succeed in our community engagement goals and bridge communication gaps that sometimes occur during the hectic academic year.”
She said athletics believes that community engagement and service are important components of the staff and student-athlete experience. The community does so much to support athletics, she added, that it’s just the right thing to do.
“It’s very important to show gratitude, use your gifts, and give back to the community,” Pugh said.
The UNLV Community Engagement Council is a network of campus individuals who help advance the university’s community engagement mission. Working in concert with the UNLV office of community engagement, council members regularly host nonprofit and government agency leaders, who make presentations about their organizations and prospective partnerships with UNLV. This enables community leaders to reach many campus units at one time and facilitates follow-up to explore partnership potential. If you would like to present to the council on behalf of your nonprofit or government agency, contact the office of community engagement.