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Faculty Athletics Committee looks toward the future

The Faculty Athletics Committee is determined not to be stuck in the past.

“We shouldn’t just be in a defensive and apologetic posture,” said committee member Kimberly Strom-Gottfried in reference to the athletic scandals.  “We want forward progress.”

The committee met Friday to discuss the year ahead and how they will keep the public informed on their advancements.

“We need to document how this committee operates for people to understand what we do and how we do it,” said committee chairwoman Joy Renner.

Discussion surrounded the possibility of adding students to the committee.

“I’m a big believer that when you increase diversity of opinion, you have a greater outcome,” said committee member Paul Friga.

After considering students' time demands and how to most effectively maintain a degree of consistency, the committee will formally decide whether a student will be added to the current board by the end of next year.

The committee will also encourage the University to be more transparent when it comes to how athletes and their academics are monitored.

“We will do a lot of documentation so it will be totally clear exactly what Carolina does with respect to student athletes every step along the way,” said committee member Andrew Perrin. 

Part of the success of student athletes depends upon their initial understanding of what is expected both in the classroom and on the field.

“We need athletes to be aware that we demand success in both areas,” said committee member John Stephens.  “We need to say, ‘Here’s what you’ve been able to do in high school, are you ready for UNC?’”

A lot of discussion surrounded coaches and teams reporting more information to the committee. The committee wants to examine individual and team grades as well as the total number of classes missed, as opposed to just days missed due to traveling for games.

When analyzing this data, the committee hopes to share in more detail the true academic standing of athletes.

“We fall victim to the headlines of the select few,” said Friga, who is also a professor in the Kenan-Flagler Business School. “I don’t think people know the true story of academics here.”

Along with the other committee members, Friga said he believes revealing the collected data of student athlete performances in the classroom would help remove the stigma associated with academics in sports.

“I bet if we showed the public how many students are performing at a particular GPA, say 3.0, they’d be surprised,” he said.

The committee also discussed how to improve the effectiveness and transparency of its efforts as well.

They hope to establish a clear team liaison system in which each coach and team will have a designated point-person on the committee to speak with in terms of academic reporting and all-around communication.

The committee will look to take a more active role by posting monthly updates on its website alongside their meeting minutes, which will be publicly accessible.

“Part of what we are trying to do is shift the culture,” Deborah Stroman, another member of the committee, said. “And that can be done by adding more people to the table.” 

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