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Friday June 2nd

Faculty Athletic Committee faces underperformance of Black athletes, balancing budget

Jeffrey Spang, Lissa Broome, and William Sturke discuss the minutes during the Faculty Executive Committee Meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
Buy Photos Jeffrey Spang, Lissa Broome, and William Sturke discuss the minutes during the Faculty Executive Committee Meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

The Faculty Athletics Committee met Tuesday afternoon. Here is what you need to know:

The committee tackled a recent report showing the University’s poor performance in graduating Black student-athletes.

Shaun R. Harper, the executive director of the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California, published the 2018 version of his study of the success of Black male athletes at Division 1 schools. In it he ranked the Graduation Success Rate, as calculated by the NCAA, of Black male athletes at 65 schools. UNC is ranked 56th with a GSR of 56 percent for its Black male athletes.

Vince Ille, senior associate athletic director at UNC, said the issue was not tied to admissions.

“The NCAA keeps its IPP data, the keep track of the incoming student athletes at each Division 1 school and they’ll give you the institution’s test scores and core GPA,” Ille said. “We did an evaluation of our institution against U.S. News and World Report top eight public universities … No matter what group of schools we compared to, we were either better, or we compared favorably.”

Chris Faison, the coordinator for Men of Color Engagement at the Center for Student Academic Counseling, said the issue stems from the culture of the institution.

“As Vince said, what we get in is not the issue. It’s the culture at this institution,” he said. “It’s not one office; it’s not one department. It is the fact that, as the author goes on to say, the caricature and the over stereotyping of black male athletes is the issue. And until this group or any group acknowledges that, we will always be at the bottom.”

The committee discussed possible future steps to address the causes for the low graduation rates. Suggestions included focus groups and surveys with athletes to determine what they thought about the culture of the institution.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham pointed out that there was no data on why athletes failed to graduate, or how close they were to graduating. Faison said the important thing was that something needed to be done.

“The good thing about being so low is we can only go up,” Faison said. “The opportunity is there, but there has to be will. Just get out there and do it. Don’t just talk about it. Just do it.”

Martina Ballen, UNC Athletics Department chief financial officer, gave a presentation on the 2017-18 Fiscal Year budget for the department.

The Athletic Department’s budget for the year projected revenue at $92,617,989 with expenses of $92,392,989 resulting in a surplus of $225,000.

The department has seen significant revenue growth since 2013-14 when revenue was about $74 million. Expenses grew at a similar rate during this time due to the rise in cost of attendance impacting scholarships and an increase in the tax on income from live events. 

The vast majority of revenue is made up of multimedia and ticket sales which comprised 30.24 percent and 25.91 percent of revenue respectively. The multimedia income is mostly television revenue coming from the Atlantic Coast Conference’s partnership with ESPN. The department attempts to budget a surplus every year, which goes into the fund balance, Ballen said. That balance is used whenever the department incurs significant unexpected expenses like a coaching change.

When compared to the average revenue for the ACC, UNC comes out ahead. However, the average for all other Power 5 conferences is above $100 million. The same holds true for expenses. 

While UNC Athletics is below average for revenue and expenses, it has more sports programs than most schools. The University has 28 sports teams, which is well above the average number of teams for the Power 5 conferences. The highest is 22 teams in the Big Ten and the PAC-12, while the Big 12 averages only 18 teams per school. This leads to some challenges, like offering competitive salaries to potential coaches, but the department has partnered with IMG Learfield and other firms to increase ticket sales and other sources of income.

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