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Wednesday March 27, 2013 Embedded with the Gators: Educating on the March Madness fly

Updated: 5:49pm, March 27

DALLAS -- Tom Williams has been a valuable sixth man this week.
 
The University of Athletic Association’s assistant athletic director-student services arrived back in Gainesville shortly after 2 a.m. Monday morning on UF’s charter flight from Austin, Texas, following the Gators’ defeat of Minnesota in the NCAA South Region the night before.
 
The win advanced the Gators to the NCAA Regional site in North Texas -- massive Cowboys Stadium at Arlington -- and UF coach Billy Donovan opted to keep his team in the Lone Star State rather than come home only to turn around and fly back.
 
Tom Williams Just a few hours after touchdown in Gainesville, Williams was at his post in the Office of Student Life scanning players’ class schedules, huddling with tutors and alerting professors to make sure the Gators -- holed up in Marriott City Center here in downtown Big D -- maintained their academic responsibilities in the days leading up to Friday night’s South Region semifinal against Florida Gulf Coast.
 
“We’re doing some long-distance educating,” Williams (pictured) said Wednesday. “So far, it’s working.”
 
Williams has been coordinating through director of basketball operations Darren Hertz and assistant to the head coach Mark Daigneault in efforts to keep the Gators up to date on their classwork.
 
For example:

*Scottie Wilbekin took a test on-line late Sunday after the win over the Gophers.
* Junior forward Will Yeguete took a geology exam.
* Freshman guards Michael Frazier and Braxton Ogbueze wrote political science papers that Williams will hand-deliver to their professor Thursday.
* Junior forward Casey Prather turned in an assignment in his “Contemporary Youth Problems and Solutions” course that Williams forwarded.
 
Williams got back a response on the latter.
 
Very pleased. Great grade. Here’s another assignment.
 
Without having a tutor on the trip, the players have leaned on each other - especially when it comes to math, calling on walk-on Jacob Kurtz, a mechanical engineering major, for help with statistics and calculus.
 
“Jake’s good in math,” Ogbueze said. “Really good.”
 
The academic routine may not be optimum, but the Gators are making the best of it as they focus on their quest to reach the Final Four.
 
“Obviously, the professors care about them and understand the situation,” Williams said. “Overall the academic community has been very supportive.”
 

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