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Faculty Executive Committee discusses resources for athletes

UNC is continuing to extend resources to student-athletes to better fulfill their needs.

Michelle Brown, director of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, touted the success of an initiative that began last fall called My Academic Plan at the Faculty Executive Committee meeting on Monday.

She also fielded questions from committee members about the logistics of the plan.

The plan includes re-evaluating the concept of study hall for student-athletes — part of a university-wide effort to ease athletes’ transitions from high school to college.

“A lot of the feedback I received from coaches, student-athletes, the athletic-academic counselors, was that that study time was not as productive as it could be,” Brown said.

In the program, students develop plans with counselors based on their academic preparedness, courses they have selected and other academic needs. It targets freshmen, first semester transfer student-athletes, student-athletes who return with a cumulative GPA of less than a 2.5 and returning athletes who have eligibility concerns.

“What we worked with also is coming up with consistency across the board as to which students we were identifying that would be in the program,” Brown said.

Biology professor Greg Copenhaver said an important factor to consider is ensuring there are similar resources for non-student-athletes, in accordance with NCAA regulations.

“I would hate to see this university run afoul in this area again,” Copenhaver said.

Anthropology professor Vincas Steponaitis said another issue to consider is whether the program will help student-athletes when their practice schedules conflict with their academics.

“How much time is left over for you to help the students manage once they do what they have to do for their sport?” Steponaitis asked.

Brown said within her program, advisers communicate with coaches about any conflicts. She said coaches would most likely be willing to work with them.

“I have not seen anything that contradicts anything rather than a coach supporting that,” she said.

The Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group has previously discussed increasing the amount of conversation between coaches, advisers, faculty and academic support staff. In the past, communication between the groups has been limited.

Brown said students have reacted positively to the program.

“(Students) think it’s helpful to have a better study environment that some are actually choosing to come in there and just study because it is a good environment that helps them keep focused.”

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