Dr. Jessica Payne, a member of the Bearkat athletic staff since 2003, serves as Assistant Athletic Director for Student Services.
She monitors student-athlete academic progress, elibility and advisement and serves as coordinator for both the Bearkat athletics learning enhancement center and tutorial program.
As an academic advisor for more than a decade, working closely with the more than 350 student-athletes at the university each year, Payne has played a major role in Sam Houston’s success story in the class room.
Sam Houston's student-athletes have acheived all-time high department grade point averages during her tenure, posting GPAs higher than the university's overall student populations. In addition, numerous Bearkats have received awards including Academic All-Region, Academic All-Southland Conference and Southland Conference "Student-Athlete of the Year" for their individual sports.
Sam Houston athletics' success in the classroom is no flash in the pan. Since the 1994-95 school year, SHSU student-athletes have combined to produce semester GPAs of 2.4 or higher. The Bearkat athletic GPA has been a 2.89 or higher for 120 consecutive semesters with the last eight semesters above a 3.0.
In addition to her role in athletics, Payne also serves as a Lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology and the First Year Experience Program.
A Sam Houston State graduate, Payne first started working with Sam Houston athletics as a tutor. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Kinesiology and received her Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University December 2013.