The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday June 24th

Committee looks at athlete admissions

The conversation surrounding UNC’s athlete admissions, which has dominated faculty and administrative discussions this fall, continued Monday as leaders examined athletics policies.

Members of the Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group focused on the admissions of athletes and contextualized grading in their second meeting of the year.

“Recruited student athletes don’t receive any less scrutiny (than the general study body),” said Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. “In some cases they receive more.”

Farmer said that student athlete applications are subject to the Subcommittee on Special Talent, which determines whether the student qualifies for special admission.

Special talent admissions include students admitted to the athletic, dramatic arts or music departments.

Each year, there is a small group of students that are accepted despite red flags on their applications, each with a certain level of risk, said sociology professor Andrew Perrin, a member of the working group.

There are 160 specially admitted athletes each year, and 14 students are predicted to have a GPA of below 2.3.

“I am quite concerned that the small numbers have a potentially large impact,” he said.

Perrin said that he would like to see the number of these admitted students fall to zero.

Perrin said the main risk in accepting these students is that they might be isolated from their peers.

Lissa Broome, professor at UNC’s School of Law, said it is important to monitor the success of specially admitted students.

“If all 14 of those students are performing well, then that’s good information,” she said. “If 13 of the 14 are out after their first semester, that’s information we need to know too.”

The working group discussed the importance of a balance between quantitative and qualitative information in evaluating an applicant — especially a special talent applicant.

“The students we’re talking about are capable of more than their numbers represent,” said Farmer. “We need to understand the numbers but be more qualitative still.”

The working group also discussed a new method for contextualized grading to be implemented fall 2014.

Perrin said UNC will start measuring the strength of a student’s schedule in combination with the student’s traditional GPA.

Perrin said the new system will take into account class size and the average course grade to better represent a student’s academic performance.

“It does give us the possibility of understanding where a student or student group falls within the context of the university,” said provost Jim Dean. “It’s a useful addition and a good tool for us.”

Dean added that the system will address the problem of students taking easy courses to boost their GPA.

The working group will discuss athletic recruitment at their next scheduled meeting in two weeks.

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