Academic Coach on the Bench

Alyssa Budkofsky (’01) listens to the student- athletes on the menʼs basketball team at Quinnipiac University.

When Alyssa Budkofsky (BS Sport Science ʼ01) listens to the student-athletes on the menʼs basketball team at Quinnipiac University describe the challenges of getting their schoolwork done while still meeting their obligations for practice, games, and travel, she is sympathetic up to a point.

After all, Budkofsky, assistant athletic director for menʼs basketball academic support at Quinnipiac, once faced a similar situation herself, as a student manager for the Huskies. Today, she tells her student-athletes: “I had to go to practice and go to class. I know youʼre going to have to make sacrifices in your personal life, but thatʼs what you have to do to make that commitment.”

Soon after earning her degree from the Neag School of Education, Budkofsky received a call from Karl Hobbs ʼ84 (CLAS), who had been named head coach at George Washington University after being an assistant coach to Jim Calhoun at UConn, asking if she would be interested in going to graduate school and working as a student manager. While obtaining a masterʼs degree in business administration, Budkofsky tutored basketball players at George Washington to earn extra money. With her MBA in hand, she then spent a year and a half working for the management division of Ripken Baseball, led by former Baltimore Orioles star Cal Ripken Jr., before returning to George Washington as an academic advisor and earning a second masterʼs degree in higher education.

Budkofsky started as academic advisor for menʼs basketball in 2007 at Quinnipiac, when Tom Moore was named head menʼs coach, and established an academic advisor position for his team. Moore, a former assistant coach to Calhoun at UConn, had previously hired Budkofsky as a student manager for the Huskies.

“Alyssa has been invaluable in our efforts to establish a culture of academic excellence in our menʼs basketball program,” Moore said. “Her work ethic, loyalty, and commitment to the academic process have been the driving forces behind us being noted by FoxSports as having the largest increase in our academic progress rate score of any Division I menʼs basketball program in the country.”

Budkofsky met Moore on her first day in Storrs as a freshman in 1997, when she visited the menʼs basketball office to see how she could get involved with the team. The meeting put her in a front-row seat for a basketball journey she never anticipated, including being part of the Huskiesʼ first NCAA title in 1999.

“I was never very good at sports,” said Budkofsky, who sits on the team bench during games. “I played softball and danced. I grew up in Connecticut [in Bloomfield] and loved watching UConn basketball. Thatʼs where my passion for sports started.”

Budkofsky has not only offered academic support to her student-athletes, but has also worked with Quinnipiac assistant coach Scott Burrell (BGS ’10). Burrell, who left UConn before completing his degree to pursue a playing career in the NBA, completed his UConn degree requirements 17 years after he left Storrs.

For more information on Neag’s Sport Management program, visit here.