The N&O’s Dan Kane is at it again this evening, this time highlighting the fact that athletes not only made up a disproportionate number of enrollments, but that there was a systematic and accepted practice of steering athletes to no-show classes. So important was this mission that it took 115 employees and a cushy multi-million dollar workspace…..
CHAPEL HILL — For eight years, Bobbi Owen has been the highest-ranking official in charge of a program at UNC-Chapel Hill that keeps up with the studies of roughly 800 athletes so they can graduate while juggling the heavy demands of their sports.
The staff of more than 115 full and part-time employees in the academic support program for athletes includes counselors who track academic progress, tutors and specialists in learning disabilities and time management. Nearly all of them work in the plush confines of the new $70 million Loudermilk Center, a 150,000-square-foot building for athletics at Kenan Stadium.
Yet a faculty report released Thursday suggests the support program strayed from its original mission. The report spoke of “potential confusion” in the role of academic counselors at Loudermilk, with the authors saying that they had been told that support program staff steered athletes to classes in the African and Afro-American Studies Department. There, the report said, an unnamed staff member helped the players enroll in no-show classes.
Despite being well staffed, the “student-athletes” still couldn’t get a straight answer….
The report also said that athletes complained they were receiving conflicting instructions from counselors at Loudermilk and academic advisers in the university’s main advising center, which serves all students. An adviser’s job is to help students select appropriate classes. The report, however, said that athletes could get counselors in the athletics support center to register them.
At the end of the 13-page report, the authors asked: “Why is there a separate center for support of athletes?”
So, in response to having (IMHO) way too many cooks in the kitchen already, they’ve decided the best course is to add a few more….
The university has made numerous other changes to try to prevent another scandal from happening. On the academic side, there are much tighter controls over course offerings and limits on independent studies. Owen has stressed that support program counselors should not be steering athletes to classes.
On the athletic side, the department has added two new officials from other universities to address academic support and compliance issues.
I also thought this was pretty telling…..
But some on UNC’s faculty doubt much can be done to remedy the situation. Football and basketball at the major athletic conferences bring in tens of millions of dollars in revenue, making the temptation to compromise on academics in order to win championships hard to resist.