Faculty Athletics Committee talks graduation rates

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UNC athletic director Dick Baddour discussed encouraging findings regarding athletic graduation rates Tuesday at the Faculty Athletic Committee meeting. The committee avoided talking about football issues.

The tone of the monthly Faculty Athletics Committee meeting Tuesday was distinctly more positive than in previous months.

Members focused not on the ongoing NCAA investigation but rather the encouraging statistics regarding 2009 student-athlete graduation success rates.

The statistic includes athletes who leave school prior to graduation so long as the athlete would have been academically eligible to compete.

But the meeting did not proceed without mention of the investigation. Chancellor Holden Thorp began by saying he thought the situation surrounding the football team is moving forward.

“Everybody is feeling a lot more upbeat about where we are with the situation,” Thorp said.

Conversation quickly moved from the investigation to academic successes of the athletic department.

UNC School of Law professor Lissa Broome presented findings on the graduation success rate of all varsity sports programs.

The overall graduation success rate of the school was 87 percent, which was greater than eight of 10 peer institutions, including the University of Florida, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and the University of Texas at Austin.

The only peer institution that exceeded UNC’s rate was the University of Virginia, which reported an 89 percent rate.

Athletics director Dick Baddour said the data were encouraging.

“It’s good to let the public see some positive news,” he said.

The committee also discussed senior athlete exit survey data. Although data had been collected, a formal analysis of the data has not been conducted, said Kathleen Harris, a sociology professor.

Members voiced concern regarding the survey’s response rate. Seventy-two of 123 senior athletes responded. Of the 72, committee members said the majority were women and only 18 listed themselves as “non-white.” Sixteen respondents were members of revenue-generating sports teams.

One finding drawn from the survey was a need for more alumni support in varsity sports.

A committee member commented, saying an alumni database was being created for the football team.

Another responded, asking how they could monitor such a database to ensure it wouldn’t be abused.

Baddour gave a response that indicated his attention is not far from the football investigation.

“Carefully,” he said.

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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