The UNC-system Board of Governors has joined members of UNC-CH’s administration in stating that problems with student-athlete’s academics are not as severe as they seem.
The board issued its annual intercollegiate athletics report at its meeting last week, which provided statistics that included the graduation rates and Academic Progress Rates for student-athletes at 15 UNC-system institutions during 2012-13.
BOG athletics report
8 campuses receiving NCAA recognition for high APR score
5 campuses with APR under 930
1 campus subject to NCAA penalties for having a low APR
According to the report, the UNC-system averages for the high school GPAs of all incoming football and men’s and women’s basketball players were at or above 3.0.
Board member Roger Aiken said the report is a sign of progress and said the board might use it to make future decisions regarding athletics.
“I did not think this report shed as bad a light as we have seen in other reports,” Aiken said.
Aiken said the numbers presented in the report contrasted to the athlete literacy statistics former athletic tutor Mary Willingham told to CNN last week. In the report, she said out of 183 football and men’s basketball players who played between 2004 and 2012, nearly 10 percent read below a third grade level and 60 percent could not read higher than an eighth grade level.
Aiken said the issues are more minute but spread throughout other sports on campus.
“It’s not just a football or basketball problem,” he said.
But University of Oklahoma higher education professor Gerald Gurney said the rate is a false indicator of achievement because it only takes academic eligibility into account.
“It has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the education the student is getting,” Gurney said. “So the question then becomes, you score all the points possible if, no matter how deficient the student is, am I able to keep that student from one semester to the next and is he eligible?”
Gurney said the Academic Progress Rate was established by the NCAA in 2003 to set an academic threshold of around 925. But he said that a score of 925 correlated with an NCAA-wide graduation rate for student-athletes of just 37 percent.
He said the only universities that are penalized for a low score are small universities, such as historically black colleges, which do not have the money or resources to keep their athletes eligible.
According to the report, North Carolina A&T University is the only UNC-system institution currently being penalized by the NCAA for a low score.
University of South Carolina sports administration professor Richard Southall said he does not think the numbers in the board report tell the whole story because they do not separate revenue athletes from non-revenue athletes.
“A third string player who never sees the field is not a profit athlete,” Southall said. “What many reports do is lump all college athletes together.”
Southall said the report needs to go farther in analyzing which majors revenue athletes are clustered in.
“The questions of selected majors needs to be broken down right away, by sport and by starters and non-starters,” he said.
Gurney said he thinks the board and UNC administration have followed the example of several other institutions in providing details that maintain their image but ultimately cover up the underlying issues.
“Predictably, your administration is releasing public information that is at best misleading, and at worst is a deliberate lie.”
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