Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One of the University of  Minnesota's 

New Goal Schools, North Carolina, 

Struggles With Football...

Our new president, Eric Kaler, put North Carolina in the pantheon of US schools we should try to emulate.   

(I hope that the top three public research universities in the world business is forever gone.)

Thus the editorial in the Charlotte News Observer is pertinent:

There it is, an emerging symbol of the Great Conundrum that stymies the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in these days of roiling controversy surrounding the football program of Coach Butch Davis. As the university awaits word from the governing body of college athletics, the NCAA, on what sanctions it may face related to potential academic misconduct violations in that program, a monument to wretched excess rises in Kenan Stadium.
Billed as the Carolina Student-Athlete Center for Excellence, the building will house an elaborate training center and the headquarters for academic tutors and advisers whose job it is to keep athletes in good standing in the classroom, and thus eligible for competition. The top three floors of the $70 million structure will offer plush game-time accommodations for the high rollers who fund the athletics endeavors.
Unfortunately, some of those players are far from being the kind of top students normally found at this leading public university. They've devoted so much time and energy to developing their athletic skills, and yes, have so enjoyed being treated as stars, that school work has not been a priority. Many come to Chapel Hill with academic qualifications that would not get them admitted as regular students. The NCAA has in recent years made admission for athletes easier, but with tougher rules on keeping those students on progress toward a degree.
At Chapel Hill, reported The News & Observer's Robbi Pickeral and Anne Blythe, about half of the football recruiting classes of the past six years have been admitted through a special committee that considers the applications of students who may fall below the averages on conventional measures such as the SAT test. Football recruits have been running several hundred points under the SAT average of regularly admitted freshmen.

Thus, to meet NCAA requirements that are meant to keep those athletes making progress toward a degree - and also to coddle the boosters who crave a powerhouse football program - that Kenan monument rises.

A university's real mission, which ought to make everything else pale by comparison, involves the education of young people and the advancement of knowledge. It is not to play football on television.

And frankly, the argument that a university focused on that academic mission also can devote tens of millions of dollars and frenetic attention to maintaining a nationally competitive athletics program is becoming harder and harder to make.

UNC-CH has long boasted of its high standards in athletics. Now, sanctions are faced because a tutor is alleged to have given "impermissible" academic assistance to some players. That is not all, as the NCAA also is considering contact and benefits several players may have had from agents. Some 14 players have missed at least one game this year, with seven being dismissed for the season. A top Davis assistant resigned in the wake of revelations about his connections with one agent.

Davis has said he didn't know of these issues and has vowed reform. He has been steadfastly supported by Athletics Director Dick Baddour and Chancellor Holden Thorp.

But these problems never should have happened. Never, period. The university community has been embarrassed, and that's not good for UNC-Chapel Hill's overall reputation, not just that of its athletics program.


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