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Group suggests more advising for athletes

Athletes might have to make more trips to Steele Building next year.

At the Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group meeting Monday, faculty and administrators discussed how best to support and advise athletes.

The group decided Monday that athletes should see academic advisers once per semester.

In the past three years, eight reviews and reports have been released regarding UNC’s athletics program.

Many of these reports collectively found that advisers and counselors for athletes should not fall under the athletic department.

Most members of the working group said visiting an academic adviser once per semester would be beneficial for athletes, regardless of their GPA.

“The 3.8s need an academic discussion just as much as the 1.8s,” said Joy Renner, who is chairwoman of the faculty athletics committee.

The group also discussed that conversation among the various people who work with athletes on their schoolwork — tutors, advisers and faculty — would help them stay academically-focused.

“Right now, academic counselors are not encouraged to speak with faculty members,” said Debbi Clarke, who is serving as an adviser for the group.

Sociology professor Andrew Perrin said having athletes see academic advisers more would act as another check on academic conduct.

“There’s a degree of mistrust in the counselors…They wanted a check-in between student athlete and someone outside of the (Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes),” Perrin said.

“If we think that we’re creating an infrastructure where that degree of trust is being raised, it would make sense to raise the requirement.”

Michelle Brown, director of the ASPSA, said 90 to 92 percent of athletes studying in the College of Arts and Sciences would see an adviser in Steele Building.

The working group also discussed potential programs that could be created to ease athletes’ transitions.

Brown said her office is considering two models of summer bridge programs for athletes.

“(There’s) more of a freshman transition program or a fundamental skill development program,” she said.

Dean said a more challenging summer program could benefit athletes in their transition.

“In the short term, the temptation is to make the program as risk-free as possible for student athletes,” he said.

“The alternative view is that they learn as much as they can for themselves. We don’t want them to fail, but in the long run we want them to learn how not to fail.”

In addition to advising and support practices, the group discussed early registration processes for athletes that have sometimes been criticized.

A recent study by the Priority Registration Advisory Committee quelled some of these concerns, said Perrin, who is also a member of that committee.

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“It was pretty clear that nonathlete students were not blocked from courses and it didn’t lead to high concentrations of students in certain courses because of priority registration,” he said.

The group plans to discuss recruitment and academic support in the coming meetings.

“Counselors, advisers and tutors — it takes a village, huh?” Dean said.

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