UNC can’t dive into athletic reform without support

While the past couple years have shown that the athletic-academic machine is broken, UNC would better survive as an institution if it were to lead the discussion in certain reforms rather than independently and immediately enact change.

As faculty and administrators discussed many issues brought up by the Rawlings panel’s report in a portion of the most recent Faculty Council meeting, the special admissions standards afforded to some athletes were a controversial topic.

UNC has acknowledged its important role as a national leader in athletic reform, and has pledged to spearhead discussion on the issue.

However, calling for UNC to initiate change by putting many of these recommendations into effect on campus and expecting the rest of the nation to follow is failing to acknowledge the harm that this would bring to the school.

These changes are years from being incorporated on a national level, if at all, and for UNC to enact them would only put the school at a competitive disadvantage.

This would funnel elite athletes with marginal academic deficiencies from UNC to its rivals, depriving the school’s teams of many of the athletes that have earned UNC its top-rate athletic reputation.

It is impossible to know how many national championships in numerous sports the University would not have won if these standards had been put in place long ago.

It is not UNC’s job to lead the charge in athletic reform — it is UNC’S job to lead the discussion.
The Rawlings panel’s report also calls for a consortium of similar universities with the intent of intiating dialogue. This issue should be thoroughly discussed at a setting such this rather than solely at an internal level before its implementation.

Without a previous agreement throughout like-minded institutions about admission standards, jumping right into policy change could have a severe affect on the public perception of any university.

UNC should use its platform to bring these issues to the consortiums, regardless of personal interests. Along with being an academic vanguard and protecting the student part of being a student athlete, the University also needs to consider the value these athletes bring to the UNC brand.

Just take Florida Gulf Coast University, for example, the little known school that was catapulted into national relevancy by its men’s basketball team’s run in the NCAA March Madness tournament last year.

As the previously unknown team continued to advance in the tournament, their student stores’ sales multiplied, as did hits on the admissions webpage.

Athletic success can bolster a school’s national brand, drawing more qualified applicants that pursue a higher standard of academic achievement.

The UNC mark is one of the most recognizble symbols across all American univeristies.

Just as groundbreaking research reinforces the brand in academic journals and conferences nationwide, athletic appeareances in primetime television bolster the brand. They are two sides to the same coin.

This is not to say there aren’t already academic standards; these students must have a basic level of preparation in order to take advantage of the opportunities of a student athlete.

It’s up to these student-athletes to take the initiative and actively pursue the quality education they’ve been offered, which is just as much a matter of drive and commitment than of high school transcripts.

While valuable in the admissions process, a high school transcript and SAT score isn’t a foolproof way to predict the value that a student will add to a university’s academic environment.

It is difficult to forecast the success that these students will have in a college setting that differs so strikingly from high school. Looking solely at predicted GPAs doesn’t tell the full story of a student’s profile — academic or otherwise.

The academic support system within the athletic program provides these students with adequate resources to contribute academically, even at a school as academically rigorous as UNC.

Thanks for reading.

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