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Faculty Executive Committee reviews proposals for athlete education

The proposals, headed by committee member Erianne Weight and professor Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld, include an onboarding course to be taken in an athlete’s first semester on campus and an elite or applied performance minor for athletes.

Following the release of the Wainstein report, Weight wrote a column for the Chronicle of Higher Education about how the academic-athletic situation could be improved. She said some of her ideas sparked interest from others and have transformed into a four-part proposal.

“I often wonder why I am doing this, but I come back to comparing what is to what could be,” Weight said. “I see tremendous impact potential that could be life-changing.”

Weight said she was a student-athlete at the University of Utah, and she received some class credit for her time on the field. She also said she took a sports psychology course just for athletes — and it was the richest education experience of her life.

She said she has been researching the situation across the country and found that it is standard in the western U.S. for colleges to offer some sort of credit to varsity athletes for their involvement in their sport. There is nothing like this at UNC currently.

Committee members mostly agreed this was a valid way to try to improve the lives and education of athletes following the scandal.

“I personally like this because it is so student-oriented and focused on student success,” said faculty chairman Bruce Cairns.

He asked Weight and Colloredo-Mansfeld to present the plan to the committee. If the committee supported their ideas, he said he would bring it to the provost.

Colloredo-Mansfeld brought up two reasons that the Board of Governors could be squeamish about the proposals.

The University has a specific academic mission, and athletics are seen as separate from that, he said.

He said the scandal findings could make some think UNC doesn’t have the political capital to implement new policies.

Committee member Vin Steponaitis said he supports the proposals but knows they could be hard to implement.

“If this gets off the ground, there will be instantly a lot of skepticism,” he said. “We have to make sure that when it gets off the ground, it is done right.”

Weight said she predicted 20 percent of UNC athletes would choose to complete the elite performance minor, and most would choose to get the three-hour onboarding credit. She said music majors receive some credit for performing.

“’Esse quam videri’ (to be, rather than to seem) is the key here,” Steponaitis said. “We shouldn’t be afraid to lead the way.”

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