By Cara Miller

Arizona Daily Wilcat

UA students may not be able to get physical for credit if further recommendations to eliminate the physical education program are accepted when they pass through Provost Paul Sypherd's hands.

According to the preliminary report from the University of Arizona Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee, physical education is not sufficiently central to the university's mission.

Sypherd was unavailable for comment over the weekend.

Under the Exercise and Sport Sciences department, 21 sport instruction programs have been recommended for elimination. Physical education is part of that department.

"Approximately 5,000 students take the instruction courses," said Kathryn Russell, associate exercise and sports sciences professor.

The department offers beginning, intermediate and advanced instruction courses for a variety of sports including aerobics, golf, swimming and tennis.

"We offer, for one unit, a variety of different physical activities just as the Music department offers lessons in voice, piano and guitar," Russell said.

But Russell said her biggest concern is the potential loss of one undergraduate major and three graduate programs.

The physical education undergraduate major serves approximately 180 students and is the only nationally accredited program in Arizona, and one of only 30 in the nation.

"The students feel like this is kind of out of the blue, and have had little time to respond," Russell said.

She said the program has been in several reviews -- all of which have been favorable and positive.

"We have had no indication that we were not central or not doing what the university expected us to be doing," she said.

Russell said the loss of the graduate program would be a shame considering the quality of the three programs. She said the UA sports psychology program is considered a model in the country and the athletic training program is one of only 13 in the country. She also said the sports administration program trains students for positions as athletic directors.

While students are worried about the fate of their majors, they feel the real losers would be the community.

"We've got a stigma that all we do is roll out a ball and blow a whistle. We are trying to change that," said Doug Herron, a postbaccalaureate student in physical education. "Physical Education skills are becoming more of a part of everyday life." more rewarding than to work with kids and see the impact physical education has on people," Herron said.

In order to combat the recommendation, the Exercise and Sports Sciences department has been trying to collect information about university centrality.

Russell said the program prepares teachers, which she believes should be central to the university mission.

"Physical education is not only important in the prevention of the nation's biggest killer heart disease but evidence also shows that quality physical education programs do make a difference to youngsters," she said.

Herron said although the recommendations may be done deal in the hands of the committee, she thinks the program is outstanding and worth fighting to keep. Read Next Article