The University will begin offering scholarship athletes who have left Carolina with uncompleted degrees the chance to come back at any time and continue their studies under the financial terms of their scholarships.
For a full-scholarship athlete, this means honoring the scholarship for life; those who had partial scholarships can work toward their degrees at the same level that was covered when they left.
The program, called Complete Carolina, also will provide academic advising and career counseling.
“When we invite students to come to UNC-Chapel Hill to participate in our athletics program, we are promising them, above all, the opportunity to receive a superior education. That promise should have no expiration date,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt said in a statement. “I see Complete Carolina as being fundamental to our mission and our commitment to provide the very best education to all Carolina students. I look forward to expanding this program — particularly by enhancing academic advising and career counseling for all our students — in the future.”
The statement said the University was committing “significant new resources” to the program. Folt told the UNC trustees on Thursday that the athletics department would pay for the program and that former scholarship athletes could begin registering on Sept. 1.
The new program comes in an atmosphere of reform in the fourth year of inside and outside scrutiny of the relationship between athletics and academics at Carolina. Similar programs also are being announced by other universities in the large NCAA Division I athletics conferences. The New York Times has reported that Indiana University is promising free tuition for life for athletes, that the University of Southern California will guarantee four-year scholarships and that other schools in the Big Ten and Pacific-12 conferences are leaning in that direction.
At UNC, the support is limited to students who left in good academic standing. It includes tuition, fees, room, board and books. The announcement said that individualized plans will be developed to maximize each student’s success on campus, similar to the recently implemented MAP (My Academic Plan) program for current students who are athletes.
“Many student-athletes have spoken to me about how their Carolina degrees have enabled them to reach their personal ambitions,” said Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham. “Complete Carolina creates a pathway for student-athletes who left before graduating to find their way back to Carolina and complete their degree.”
The program is part of a broader initiative being developed to enhance advising and support for degree completion and career counseling for all students at Carolina.