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U.S. Department of Education Funds UAlbany Program to Reduce High-Risk Drinking Rates Among Student-Athletes

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 10, 2006) -- The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has awarded the University at Albany's Counseling Center a $300,000 grant to reduce high-risk drinking among athletes.

"This research will enhance the performance of student-athletes and promote healthy decision making," said Lee A McElroy, UAlbany director of intercollegiate athletics and vice president for athletic administration. "As leaders, student-athletes should exemplify behaviors that advance effective, lifelong-learning strategies."

Last month, the USED awarded $175,000 to UAlbany's Committee on University and Community Relations to reduce high-risk drinking; correct misperceptions of the alcohol use among UAlbany students; and communicate these messages to the University community, local businesses, and other college campuses. These latest grants to support the University Counseling Center's award-winning alcohol abuse prevention research and services bring the total amount of funding to more than $3.5 million.

Project Winning Steps, administered under the guidance of project director and principal investigator M. Dolores Cimini, licensed psychologist at the University Counseling Center, aims to reduce student-athlete alcohol use and reduce "harms" or negative consequences of excessive use through bridging the theory and knowledge base across alcohol screening and brief intervention, sports medicine, sport psychology, and exercise and performance science. The program is designed to engage student-athletes through integrating athletic performance enhancement strategies into standard interventions, and clarifying how well these targeted interventions work when delivered to individual student-athletes versus in the context of the athletic team.

"Over the past several years, the University Counseling Center has fostered a strong relationship with our colleagues in the Department of Athletics, and we are delighted to have been awarded this grant, which will allow us to expand our alcohol prevention efforts to our student-athletes, said Estela M. Rivero, director. "This project will open the door to additional future collaboration, and the delivery of state-of-the-art prevention strategies found to be effective with college students nationwide."

A key ingredient to the program's success is the collaboration among groups both on and off campus including UAlbany's Department of Athletics and unique consultative relationships. The project service coordinators and co-principal investigators include Joyce Y. Dewitt-Parker, staff psychologist at the University Counseling Center and Lee A. McElroy. The consultants include national expert in sports medicine and exercise and performance science Chris Carr, sport psychologist, Indiana Neuroscience Institute in Indianapolis; Mary E. Larimer, associate director, Addictive Behaviors Research Center, and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, University of Washington; and Jason R.Kilmer, addictive behaviors specialist, Evergreen State College. The program will be evaluated by Mitchell D. Earlywine, associate professor in UAlbany's Department of Psychology.

A national leader in campus alcohol and drug abuse prevention initiatives, UAlbany boasts a decades-long history of award-winning programs and commitment to fostering campus-community coalitions, providing evidence-based interventions and educational programs, and developing effective University alcohol and drug policies.

In October 2005, the Counseling Center announced the receipt of a $225,000 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant as part of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act for youth suicide prevention programs, signed by President Bush last October to invigorate the national effort to prevent suicide. In June 2005, UAlbany's Counseling Center received $295,000 from the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to fund Project First STEPS, an initiative to identify and treat high-risk drinkers among first-year college students. And, in August 2005, the Counseling Center received a $1.4 million grant from SAMHSA to fund interventions with college students at high risk for alcohol and substance abuse.

In September, 2004, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) awarded the Counseling Center's Middle Earth peer assistance program $890,000 to research two peer-facilitated and professionally supervised interventions that prevent or reduce alcohol-related problems among college students.


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