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Spotlight Iowa City: Zealous about the student-athletes

BY BRENDAN STILES | JANUARY 20, 2010 7:30 AM

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As an associate director of Athletics Student Services, Peter Gray has watched student-athletes such as former Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer go from freshmen learning their way around campus to receiving their degrees.

Through the process, he gets to know all Hawkeye student-athletes as the everyday people they are.
“I know the man or the woman behind the number,” said Gray, surrounded in his office at the Gerdin Athletics Learning Center by bowl-game souvenirs.

The 56-year-old oversees academic advising and counseling for the Hawk student-athletes, specifically those in football and women’s basketball.

In a career that spans 33 years, he has had the opportunity to live out his passions of teaching and interacting with young people at both the high-school and college levels.

Prior to stints at both the University of Mississippi and Indiana University, Gray served as an academic coordinator in the Hawkeye Athletics Student Services from 1993-95. Seven years later, an offer to return to the university arose. It was one the Bloomington, Ind., native couldn’t refuse.

Now, Gray finds himself in somewhat of a routine.

On Mondays, he and other academic coordinators sit down with Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz and discuss each football player’s academic standing.

“We go through the entire roster and talk about nothing but academics,” Gray said. “Coach Ferentz is well aware of every quiz, every upcoming assignment. He’s on top of it.”

After meeting Ferentz, Gray spends Monday afternoons, Tuesdays, and Wednesday mornings meeting student-athletes one-on-one.

“Pete has the expertise of being a director and understanding some of the nuances that need to be in place,” said Fred Mims, the director of Athletics Student Services and Compliance. “He’s a tireless worker as far as being available to interact with students.”

Outside of work, Gray loves being a spectator at Hawkeye sporting events.

Sometimes he sits in a separate section at an event — he did in Miami for the bowl game, too — to avoid hearing catcalls and yells directed at the student-athletes he serves.

“It upsets me when I’m sitting there and one of my students makes a bad play … and I’ll hear some fan yell something that is degrading personally,” he said. “It eats at me.”

He said he wants to be known as someone who is true to his word and who can be brutally honest.
It is likely that such qualities help push his student-athletes to succeed.

“Win or lose, he’s always there slapping your hand,” said Hawkeye sophomore Matt Gatens, who plays on the men’s basketball team. “It makes you feel good that there’s support, especially from a guy like him who is high up in the administration.

“To be out there and see him, it makes you feel good, and he’s a great guy.”


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