As Arizona Football fans drive toward the stadium on Enke Drive for home games this fall, they will notice a new 15,000-square-foot building south of McKale Center, near completion in October.
The new C.A.T.S. Academic Center, dedicated to providing academic and life skills for student-athletes, was made possible by several donations, including a $2.5 million leadership gift from University of Arizona alumni Andrew and Kirsten Braccia and a $1 million gift from David Lapan and his family.
“We’re honored that the Braccias and the Lapans have provided this significant level of support for Arizona Athletics,” says UA Director of Athletics Greg Byrne. “This group’s generosity will go a long way in helping us deliver a first-class experience for our student-athletes.”
Alumna swimmer Bonnie Brandon ’16, named First Team PaC-12 All-Academic and the UA’s 2016 Senior Female Athlete of the Year, says chemistry tutoring with the support of C.A.T.S. Academics helped her understand complicated concepts and save time for practice.
“We are so privileged at Arizona to have academic and life skills help,” she says. Brandon graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences and plans to become a nurse.
The facility boasts a computer lab, a tutorial area and study rooms and will house 14 full-time staff members, including six academic counselors, four learning specialists and administrative staff.
C.A.T.S. Academics Director John Mosbach says the dedicated space that brings academics and life skills together under one roof will improve the level of service his staff can provide to guide student-athletes toward graduation and provide skills for life after college.
“We want to make sure when you see the basketball team out on the court, they’re not just elite national contenders, but also elite academically,” Mosbach says. “The new center will help us with that mission.”
Nearly 500 student-athletes compete in 20 sports at the UA. Mosbach says the C.A.T.S. program impacts each student at some point during their time at the UA and more than half make use of tutoring services.