Lee Announces New Student-Athlete Development Program

Committed to preparing student-athletes to be leaders and champions in all facets of their lives, the Lee University Athletic Department is pleased to announce the creation of a new Student-Athlete Development Program.

The program will be led by McCay Mathis, who is entering her second year as Director of Student-Athlete Welfare and Athletic Council at Lee. Joining her as assistant director of student-athlete development is Cody Finch, and women’s lacrosse assistant coach Megan Smith will serve as administrator of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Mathis plays a vital role for the athletic department as she provides one-on-one mental health counseling to Lee’s student-athletes.

In addition to this, she also plans and coordinates the Athletic Department’s Life Skills program and oversees all student-athlete development programs, including the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and LEAD. She is a Licensed Senior Social Worker (LMSW) in Tennessee and South Carolina and is currently working at the next level of licensing as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Furman University, a Masters of Social Work, and a Graduate Certificate in Addiction and Addiction Studies from the University of South Carolina. While at USC, she participated in an advanced year internship with the South Carolina Athletic Department’s Director of Mental Health.

Finch will help oversee the LEAD program, which aims to develop the leadership skills of student-athletes on and off the field, as well as serve the spiritual needs of the department as a representative of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the Lee University. Finch played college football at East Texas Baptist University where he earned a degree in communications. He earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from Virginia Tech. Finch has a background in student engagement and development while working for the athletic departments of Virginia Tech and Baylor University and was a former college pastor in the local church, serving at the Baptist Church in ‘Englewood and First Baptist Cleveland.

Smith will oversee Lee University SAAC and use his experience as a leader on and off the court, to help inspire and lead this year’s representatives. Smith was a standout player for Limestone College from 2011 to 2015 and served as captain in her final year. She helped the Saints win four consecutive Carolina Conference regular season titles, three league tournament titles, an appearance in the NCAA D2 Quarterfinals (2013 and 2015) and a berth in the Game of national championship in 2013. Smith was also nationally recognized. leader in community service, helping the Lady Flames win the IWLCA Service Award in 2021 and the Community Awareness Award in 2022.

Why is this new program so important? According to a study by the American College of Sports Medicine, about one in five adults will live with a mental health problem during their lifetime. College student-athletes face unique risk factors such as pressure to perform athletically and academically, injuries, and lack of resources or development of coping skills as well as other possible stress triggers . These triggers include missing classes due to off-campus athletic competitions, being away from home for the first time, social isolation from students other than their teammates, and adjusting to constant visibility within their campuses and their communities. About 30% of women and 25% of men who are student-athletes report experiencing anxiety, and only 10% of all college athletes with known mental health issues see a mental health professional.

“The vision of Lee Athletics is to develop and graduate champions in their sport, in the classroom, in the community and in their faith. Our teachers, coaches and staff are committed to the holistic development of each student-athlete. As we prioritize winning, we prioritize the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of our student-athletes first and foremost,” Associate Athletic Director Jessica McIntyre said. “McCay, Cody and Megan have created a program that will prepare and empower our student-athletes to succeed in Lee and in the pursuit of their life after Lee. I am thrilled to be able to offer this type of important and timely resource to our student-athletes.”

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