Temple to use NCAA funds for mental health resources

The allotment of more than $800,000 will be used for mental health resources.

Temple will use money allocated by the NCAA to improve its mental health resources for student-athletes, Senior Associate Athletic Director Larry Dougherty wrote in an email.

The athletic department will receive $824,147 as part of a one-time $200 million supplemental allocation the NCAA made in mid-April to nearly 350 schools. The funds were apportioned based on the number of athletic scholarships a school offered in the 2013-14 year.

The NCAA mandated that schools use the money “for the direct benefit of the student-athlete and their academic success, life skills, career success, health and safety and student-athlete focused diversity and inclusion initiatives,” according to its website. The NCAA encourages schools to use the money by June 30, 2022, and Temple plans to spend the money over five years.

The athletic department intends to supplement its outside counselor coverage and hire a full-time mental health professional to “provide a consistent presence and outlet” for student-athletes, Dougherty wrote. This is intended to be completed during the 2017-18 academic year.

The university currently uses three outside counselors — Dr. Caitlin LaGrotte, Dr. Craig Cohen and Dr. Annie Yocum — who are available on a part-time basis.

The specifics of spending and whether counseling will be based out of the Student Health and Wellness Center, set to open at 15th Street and Montgomery Avenue in Fall 2017, are still being determined, Dougherty wrote. Schools must submit their spending plans to the NCAA within three months of receiving the funding.

“Mental health has been an area of high concern for some time,” Dougherty wrote. “With these new resources we are able to address a significant need to benefit our student-athlete welfare.”

Yocum, a psychologist based in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, said she comes to Temple once a week to provide individual psychotherapy, which can range from consultations to ongoing therapy. She sees students on a referral basis, which can be same-day or within the same week, she said.

Cohen, based in Center City, said he sees 10 to 12 student-athletes per week but doesn’t feel overburdened. He said at Temple, athletes typically receive individual counseling in weekly 45-minute sessions.

“It’s just a place for them to help organize that in a non-judgmental, supportive, collaborative environment,” Cohen said.

“I think it’s a good thing to have resources for the athletes,” he added. “They’re not only dealing with the stress of school and academics … but they’re also dealing with a really stressful experience in their sports teams. The expectations that are put on by their coaches and their trainers, it’s just another added piece that makes their life very quite stressful.”

Evan Easterling can be reached at evan.easterling@temple.edu or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling.

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