UConn Players Work Hard—On and Off the Court

Rodney Purvis
Rodney Purvis (Credit: UConn Athletics)

Rodney Purvis ’17 rolls his eyes when he’s asked how he juggles the dual responsibilities of being a student and one of the best basketball players on one of the top Division I teams in the country.

“Everybody thinks because we are UConn basketball players that we are taken care of academically. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said the 21-year-old junior shooting guard, who is a Communications major.

“Yes, we do get some tutoring help,” added Purvis, 6′ 4″ and 205 pounds. “But the responsibilities of being both a student and an athlete are challenging, time-wise. We aren’t spoiled. We work hard—on the basketball court and in the classroom.”

Purvis, whose liberal arts education is supported by scholarship money from former UConn center Peter Lind ’50 and his wife, Carolyn, said the role of student can be particularly tough during the season, “when the travelling we do can really take a toll.”

“It (being a student-athlete) definitely has its pros and cons,” reiterated Purvis, who comes from Raleigh, N. C. “But, it’s a challenge I’m up to.”

“Rodney is doing a phenomenal job handling what you have to do as a student and athlete, and that means being a student first,” said UConn Men’s Basketball Head Coach Kevin Ollie. “His time management has been excellent, always on time, whether it’s at a class, or for a workout, or at a meeting. He enjoys the interaction with his teammates, but also with the campus community.

“We of course want elite players in our program,” Ollie continued, “but we also want elite people and that’s exactly what Rodney has been.”

As the cost of tuition continues to rise, private support is more essential than ever for the success of UConn’s 24 varsity sports and more than 700 student-athletes. What also sometimes is forgotten is that UConn student-athletes continue to excel, as more than 50% earned a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

In the 2014-15 academic year, $12 million was paid by the Athletic Department in tuition costs, as 216 athletes received partial scholarships and 196 received full scholarships. That cost will be going up this year.

UConn’s championship success has been achieved in large part due to the continued generosity of donors, season ticket holders, alumni and friends who annually support UConn Athletics.

This year, the Drive to 5K fundraising initiative is being launched with a goal of increasing the number of contributors from 4,400 to 5,000.

Peter Lind said he and his wife are glad to support athletes such as Rodney with scholarship money.

“UConn basketball has been an important part of my life,” Lind said. “I am more than happy to do whatever I can to help maintain the excellence that the program has become known for.”

Peter and Carolyn Lind with men's basketball player Rodney Purvis
Peter Lind ’50, Carolyn Lind, and Rodney Purvis ’17. (Credit: UConn Athletics)

Lind was a center for the UConn Huskies from 1948-1950 and his name was on the UConn Basketball All-Century Ballot. He was an All-Yankee Conference First Team selection in 1949-1950, when he was the team’s top rebounder. Peter was also the top scorer in his junior year, and co-captain of the team coached by Hugh Greer, his senior year.

“Playing for Coach Greer and UConn was one of the highlights of my life,” Lind said. “The (basketball) program back then wasn’t quite what it is today, but we were kind of planting the seeds.”