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How the Faculty Athletics Committee connects academics and athletics

Bubba Cunningham, UNC's athletic director, listens as Allan Blattner, director of Carolina Housing, speaks during a Faculty Athletics Committee meeting in South Building on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. “I think in my mind our relationship with athletics is very strong,” Blattner said.

The Faculty Athletics Committee is one of many committees that reports to the Faculty Council each month, but why does this committee exist? Why is it included as a major committee on campus when it represents a certain percentage of our student body?

UNC's student body is made up of nearly 800 athletes across 28 varsity teams. To bridge academics and athletics, the FAC is comprised of University leadership and professors who advise the chancellor on how to support athletes at UNC. 

Who is on the committee? 

The FAC is made up of 12 members and one faculty athletics representative. 

Lissa Broome is the faculty athletics representative, a professor in the UNC School of Law and the director of the Center for Banking and Finance. 

“Intercollegiate athletics is an important part of life on our campus, and it is important to have faculty also interacting with it,” Broome said. 

Dr. Daryhl Johnson II is the chairperson for the committee, as well as an associate professor of surgery in the School of Medicine. He has been a part of the FAC for six years and has been chairperson for three years.

Committee members come from multiple departments around the University. The professional diversity that the committee has ensures different life experiences and values to bring a variety of opinions to the table, committee member Aimee McHale said. McHale is an assistant professor in the public health leadership program in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

What is the committee's goal? 

The committee oversees the intersection of athletics and academics at UNC and reports to Provost Bob Blouin and Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz about any aspect of athletics, Johnson said. 

“It really is just to provide a more fulsome or holistic perspective of where we, as a University, need to be in order to do right by these student athletes who are doing so much in different areas to both excel on the field or in their competition and in their sport and also academically and personally,” McHale said. 

One example of this was from a recent Faculty Council meeting, where the FAC reported to the chancellor about COVID-19 concerns among athletes. The FAC also invited athletes to speak about their experiences.

Since the chancellor oversees athletics, the FAC’s role is to advise him and keep him up to date with college athlete issues, mental and physical wellbeing reports and academic reports so that he can be as well positioned as possible to help ensure that athletics and academics are properly balanced, Broome said. 

“We are lucky enough to have the support of all the people that work with the student athletes, to make sure that we're informed about what's going on and who can hear suggestions and ideas that we have for things that they might want to consider that maybe they haven't,” Broome said. 

Johnson said because UNC is an important collegiate athletic university, a committee that oversees the academics and wellbeing of college athletes is important to ensure clear communication between faculty and administration to the college athletes. The FAC also invites experts around campus to help keep cases and issues up to date with the administration and the athletics faculty, he said.

“It’s a marriage between intercollegiate sports and academics," Johnson said. "And so, you know, I think the FAC is one of the pieces of the bridge where we make that connection."

The committee meets monthly. The next meeting of the Faculty Athletics Committee is Nov. 5. 

For The Daily Tar Heel's previous coverage of the Faculty Athletics Committee, click here.

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