New Group Will Examine Academic Lives of Athletes

Provost James W. Dean Jr. and Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham are the leaders of a new group that is working toward assessing and enhancing the ways the University provides academic support to athletes.

The Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group is examining current practices, procedures, policies and other factors that affect the lives of approximately 800 athletes.

“Our group will look at everything, from when student-athletes are recruited and admitted to when they leave Chapel Hill,” Dean said. “Our focus will be on supporting their academic success.”

He said the objective is to ensure proper alignment with the University’s academic mission, consistent with Cunningham’s strategic plan for the athletics department.

The working group aims to build on recent changes that grew out of scandals in the football program and in the department of African and Afro-American studies, such as the ongoing work of the Faculty Council’s Faculty Athletics Committee; the reorganization of and new leadership for the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, which now reports to Dean’s office; and the implementation of the new strategic plan in the athletics department.

Other members of the group are Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions; Michelle Brown, who joined the University last spring as director of the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes; Lissa Broome, the faculty athletics representative to the ACC and NCAA; and Vince Ille, senior associate athletics director for compliance.

Debbi Clarke, who worked closely with Dean at Kenan-Flagler, where she was the director of the master’s of business administration degree program, will be an adviser to the group.

Working group members will seek feedback from and engage with four faculty panels: the Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admission Subcommittee on Special Talent; the Faculty Executive Committee; the Faculty Athletics Committee; and the Faculty Advisory Committee to the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes.

Ultimately, the goal is for the University to have in place processes covering the total experience of student-athletes that reflect significant faculty involvement and promote ongoing excellence in both academics and athletics, Dean said.

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