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The Daily Tar Heel

Faculty bridge gap in academics, athletics

Joy Renner, Committee Chair, lead the meeting The second meeting of the Faculty Athletic Committee met on Tuesday afternoon at South Building. The committee discussed the relationships between student athletes and their academics. "We have a collective responsibility to care of athletics on campus," said Chancellor Holden Thorp. Athletic Director, Bubba Cunningham, also gave updates on athletics. The committee discussed the role of the committee in regards to student athlete's academic success. "It needs to be sustainable," said Joy Renner, Chair of the committee. John Stephens, Glynis Cowell, and Vince Ille spoke about what can be done to improve student athlete's academic experience.

UNC athletics teams have drafted a new teammate — a faculty member who will oversee their academic advising.

In an effort to link athletics with academics, members of the Faculty Athletics Committee are being paired with the University’s athletic teams to gain an understanding of how they function.

The committee met Tuesday to discuss the progress of these partnerships.

The faculty-team pairings are meant to fulfill the committee’s catch phrase of acting as a bond — not a bridge — between academics and athletics, said Joy Renner, the committee’s chairwoman.

Lissa Broome, a law professor who was assigned to the football team, learned that the team no longer has Monday practices in order to allow the players to dedicate more time to their studies.

The time that would be spent in practice is used by athletes to attend science labs and volunteer, Broome said.

Chancellor Holden Thorp also spoke at the meeting.

“The purpose of this committee is to collect responses in order to take care of athletes on campus,” he said.

Renner said there are resources available to help athletes — but there need to be more.

“We need to make sure that everyone’s needs are heard and charted to the appropriate group,” Renner said.

She stressed that the liaisons are important for the committee members to understand what it means to be a student athlete.

To the gain insight into the student athlete experience, the committee is reviewing exit surveys from senior athletes who reflected on their experiences.

Barbara Osborne, an associate professor in the Exercise and Sport Science Department, said seniors’ participation in the surveys has dropped throughout the years, which concerns her.

Last year, only 46 of 126 senior athletes — 37 percent — completed the survey, which is a drop from the 59 students who completed it in 2011 and the 72 who completed it in 2010.

The results of the survey have not yet been released, but Renner said the information will be used to improve the relationship between academics and athletics.

Committee members said the results from the survey are not reflective of the entire athletic experience, and they hope to eventually have 100 percent of athletes participate.

The committee is looking for ways to improve participation in the surveys, which will be discussed in November.

John Stephens, an associate professor of public administration and government, said the committee has to be careful with the methods it uses to increase participation.

“We want a higher response rate without making it look coerced,” he said.

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