Faculty consider athletics admissions

Some faculty members have recently suggested that admissions standards for student athletes be raised.

But members of the Faculty Athletics Committee say choosing simple metrics to admit students would exclude those who might eventually succeed at UNC.

Chancellor Carol Folt met with other members of the committee Tuesday to discuss proposed athletic reforms that came out of a report by President of the Association of American Universities Hunter Rawlings, which was the topic of a panel discussion at the Faculty Council meeting Friday.

The committee discussed other factors that should be considered when determining how someone will perform at UNC, such as student athletes who were at a disadvantage due to their socioeconomic background.

“I want to hold students to a higher level but in a way that better predicts their success,” Folt said.

“We have to understand this at Carolina when we talk about metrics. To choose a simple answer is to reinforce an unintended set of consequences.”

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Jim Dean also presented more information on the charge of his Student Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group to the committee.

After hearing concerns about the lack of faculty involvement and minority representation on the working group, Dean added sociology professor Andrew Perrin as well as two black professors, James Johnson from the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and anthropology professor Anna Agbe-Davies.

“There are a lot of people talking about athletics but we’re really talking about football and basketball, black male athletics,” said Deborah Stroman, an exercise and sports science professor.

“I applaud the provost for having Anna and Jim join the working group, that’s important.”

The Rawlings report also recommended the University impose limits on the amount of time students could dedicate to their sport.

That recommendation was met with skepticism from committee members.

“With world-class athletes, they’re going to be committed to being the best,” Stroman said.

“We have to talk about that — just because you limit participation does that mean you will have a better academic outcome.”

Barbara Osborne, an associate professor of exercise and sports science, said University leaders should view the recommendation closely before acting on it.

“What looks like a simple consideration isn’t simple at all,” she said. “To do what’s right for student athletes isn’t necessarily limiting them from doing things they want to do.”

One of the more controversial recommendations was that students struggling academically take a year off from playing their sport to focus on school during their freshman year at UNC.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said he supported the idea of eligibility requirements to play sports freshman year — but the University could not do this without conference and national cooperation.

“I would favor initial eligibility restrictions on everybody because it would force the market to do something else,” Cunningham said.

“That’s where I would start. But I believe if we did that unilaterally, it would affect everybody. I don’t think we could do that.”

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