UNC Admitting Shortcomings in Academics for Athletes

Submitted by MFanNE on January 29th, 2014 at 9:54 AM


UNC Chancellor:  "We also accept the fact that there was a failure in academic oversight for years that permitted this to continue," Folt told UNC trustees last week.

I wonder what, if any, fallout this will have from an NCAA perspective and if there is actually any action taken, or if this is just going to further display that $$$ is the true driver in major college athletics and that nothing more will happen with this.  

Given the actions at Northwestern to attempt unionization in the football program, I would think that reports like this could easily lend credence to the fact that athletics and athletic scholarships are not simply a voluntary "student-athlete" program.  If it can be shown that such a significant portion of scholarship athletes in other programs also do not have basic reading and writing skills, let alone are taking fake or set-aside courses to maintain academic standings to participate in sports, it really weakens the statements from the NCAA yesterday.

In a statement, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy disagreed with the idea that college athletes could be considered labor. The full remarks from Remy:

This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education. Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize.

Many student athletes are provided scholarships and many other benefits for their participation. There is no employment relationship between the NCAA, its affiliated institutions or student-athletes.

Student-athletes are not employees within any definition of the National Labor Relations Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act. We are confident the National Labor Relations Board will find in our favor, as there is no right to organize student-athletes.




January 29th, 2014 at 10:01 AM ^

If it can be shown that such a significant portion of scholarship athletes in other programs also do not have basic reading and writing skills,

I believe it is unlikely this will be found to be the case on any broad scale.  However I also believe that generally speaking it is more likely to be the case the further south you go in these United States.


January 29th, 2014 at 10:11 AM ^

I'm no lawyer, but I think it's no longer voluntary once you accept compensation for it.  

I think the same applies to college athletics as well.  That's probably the major (technical) difference between a varsity (scholarship) student athlete and a student athlete that participates in team that is a Volunteer Student Organization.  


January 29th, 2014 at 10:27 AM ^

They have to meet certain NCAA-mandated standards.  There is no standardized metric for admittance at schools for "regular" students, and if you delve into how some people got in you'd be amazed how many also wouldn't qualify under a "standard" admission criteria.  Judging a person in totality doesn't strike me as unfair, though with the caveat that your average athlete at Stanford might not be to the same academic standard as the average non-athlete.  That said, I'm guessing a bunch of guys at LSU could have gotten in even if they didn't play basketball, for example.


January 29th, 2014 at 10:46 AM ^


Isn't the student-athlete ideal inherently compromised by the fact that student-athletes don't face the same admission standards as regular students?

An over-generalized way to put it.  Admissions departments don't publish a list of standards which they then break for football players.  They're charged with determining whether or not an application is exceptional enough for admission to the school.  When I got into school, there were people who didn't get in at the same school despite having better GPAs.  Does that mean I "didn't face the same admission standards"?  No, it meant something about my application was more to the liking of admissions.  Likewise, someone like Jabrill Peppers has something on his application that makes him more attractive than a lot of people with better GPAs, test scores, what have you.


January 29th, 2014 at 10:23 AM ^

I think the NCAA is missing the point with the unionization attempt.  The requests are for basic medical care, some protections for scholarships, and a couple of basic living improvements.  so even if they "win" in front of the NLRB, they are going to lose in the court of public opinion, and as some point a senator is going to get bored and try to drag a couple ADs and administrators in for a browbeating that won't help them either.

And from a practical sense, the NCAA has made it VERY difficult for competing for-profit junior leagues to start up as an alternative to college.  That's what drives me crazy about the NCAA's position - they say the goal is education, then fight hard to eliminate possible competing options.  These universities would lose lots of money if lots of the top players coming out HS went to a junior league over the schools, and they know it.  If the NCAA really cared about student athletes as people and not some combination of human being and cash cow, they'd make really clear scholarship rules that basically eliminated what happens at Alabama with scholarship revocations and say if you get a kid on campus, he can stay for 4 years and you can't kick him off unless he breaks a rather egregious rule or law.  And if you just kick him off the team or don't play him, even because of medical injury, tough nuts - he still counts against your cap of 85.  You made a mistake, and so that's the cost.  But that won't happen, so that's why you see NW and other groups of players try to protect themselves a bit.

Mr Miggle

January 29th, 2014 at 12:03 PM ^

you propose is going to happen, sooner rather than later.

But I don't understand your comments on the for profit football leagues as an alternative to college. What has the NCAA done to stop them other than being popular? What are they doing differently in football than in hockey or baseball?


January 29th, 2014 at 10:32 AM ^

NCAA is about money not education.  Hundred million dollar stadiums are not built for amateurs and 3-5 million per year is not paid to college football coaches because they are teaching students how to be great citizens.

It is time we (nation of college football fans) all acknowledge these are semi-pro minor league teams to professional sports and stop with all this academic integrity nonsense.

Either be OK with it or drop your favorite team down to Division 2 where there is academic integrity and student athletes actually need to earn real degrees.


January 29th, 2014 at 10:47 AM ^

UM and UNC are now major embarrassments to their alumni.  Both schools are academic powerhouses, and both fan bases assume -- rightly or wrongly -- that we win "the right way," that the schools' academic excellence is not tossed aside for purposes of winning games or protective players.

UNC has been festering this academic evil for years; ignored it or covered it up or simply failed to pay attention to the fact that their players couldn't read English; and then now finally is dealing with the truth.

UM has allowed a rapist to play on our team, and the Coach lied to the public about it.  Maybe to protect the kid, perhaps, but Hoke doesn't come off well here.  I, like many of you, are sick to the stomach that "I Like Brunettes" (which, alone, creates a point of disgust) has been playing for 3 years after what he did, and no one seemed to care.  So much for being "Leaders and Best."  It's beyond embarrassing and shameful; it's outrageous.

And, one more example:  Penn State.

If three of the top five or ten public universities in the country can have their prestige and leadership not merely sullied but scarred with these kinds of evil... then we all have to ask, just WTF has college sports done to public universities.  And when we buy tickets, buy licensed apparel, or just watch the TV and add to ratings... we're ALL a part of it, aren't we?


January 29th, 2014 at 11:01 AM ^


The Businessweek article had more from UNC-Chapel Hill Vice Chancellor James Dean.

Here, he essentially admits to a broad failure in academic oversight and talks about how they are actually now looking into athletes clustering disproportionately into other  academic departments as a way to begin directed reforms of various programs within the university. He speaks of some of the progress already made and the order given to the Athletic Department to develop a new strategic plan for the education of athletes, but then there is this quote from the author which I find intriguing:

"UNC and its fellow participants in NCAA Inc. can do a lot to diminish deceit, but they can’t cure the basic conundrum that striving for the NBA or NFL doesn’t necessarily mix well with learning calculus or literature."

The article also talks about WIllingham's research, and while it is highly contested on UNC's campus, the piece mentions - and I think correctly - that her work's general point looms larger than the specific analysis; the education offered to many athletes at UNC seems subpar at best. 

Shorty the Bea…

January 29th, 2014 at 1:56 PM ^

While I have no factual basis for understanding the prevalence, or lack thereof, in America of student-athletes who lack the basic reading and writing skills necessary to receive a college education, I can say that in speaking with a former UofM admissions officer and current professor about ethics concerning college sports that the University of Michigan has and still does admit athletes, namely football players, that cannot read and write above an elementary level, based on their athletic abilities and ensures the athletes remain eligible and on pace to graduate with their peers.  That was the longest sentence ever.  This professor noted that he has previously worked with and graded the work of players who were unable to read multi-syllable words.  This professor is a friend of many of Michigan's athletic coaches, including former and current football coaches, and does not appear to have any specific axe to grind regarding the matter.  He simply spoke about the ethical implications of college sports as they relate to the role of the NCAA, our governments, the schools, the coaches, and the student-athletes.