Athletics vs Academics

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

Overview

  • Carolina Culture – Update 2/28/2013

The Students

  • Meeting with President Friday
  • Who is really cheating/getting cheated?
  • Graduation Rates, Race and Special Admits
  • Teaching & Learning
  • The Paper Class Dilemma
  • From Field to Classroom
  • Concussions-Academic Impact
  • Contract Law
  • Transparency
  • SACS and the Big Sweep
  • Carolina’s Academic Mission
  • The Paper Class Dilemma – Part 2

The Money

  • Eligibility
  • Winning at What Cost?
  • UNC – Truth & Reform
  • UNC NCAA INVESTIGATION

NCAA

  • What is Wrong with the NCAA Admission Standards?
  • Philosophical and Ethical Issues
  • Cover Up
  • NCAA — Dissenting Views
  • The Call For Academic Reform
  • The Martin Report
  • Martin Report – Part 2
  • Lack of Institutional Control

Literacy

  • The Call For Academic Reform
  • Learning vs Playing
  • Moving Forward
  • Admissions First
  • The Advanced Placement (AP) Advantage

The Faculty

  • Athletic Reform Group (ARG)

Overview

Carolina Culture – Update 2/28/2013

This week held more bad news for our campus (Inside Higher Ed). Organizational structures are built upon one moral foundation. This is problematic for any system that discovers fraud. The door has swung wide open, and the view inside is not pleasant. We heard this claim from some members of the Penn State Community — sexual harassment undertones plagued the entire campus, not just the athletic department. We now know that multiple young people on our campus (including staff) are being mistreated. Women and minorities, in addition to those who question the machine at Carolina, are the victims. The administration responded yesterday, ”Here are facts. This University works hard to encourage students to come forward and report instances of sexual violence. No student has ever been disciplined for reporting a sexual assault or any Honor Code violation. Further, no University administrator filed or encouraged the filing of charges in this case; there is no retaliation by the University”.

Right – and no athletic advisor told athletes to take paper classes – we thought that professors were just exercising their academic freedom. Students are all to blame. William Golding – is this your work?

What is going on? Our administration continues to be more interested in protecting themselves. The argument that the media always gets it wrong is not viable. Is there a leader among us that will stand up and say “ENOUGH”? I know that some of you are thinking it – please just do it – now. The media might get it right, if we do what is right.


The Students

Meeting with President Friday

While sitting at the wonderful celebration of President Friday’s life last week, I realized that he was the only person on campus at UNC who was interested in the paper that I wrote about academics and athletics. The paper was written in 2009 after I had worked in the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes for seven years. I had the honor to meet with Mr. Friday in his office on a fall day in 2010; he had a genuine love of academics and asked if I thought, as he did, that some athletes were really interested only in sport. He was curious to know what my experience had been while working with these students. I would like to share my experiences here and perhaps someday write a book about how I saw our academic fraud unfold and, more importantly, how we can correct and prevent these failures from reoccurring. My opinion has not been sought except from reporters. Although I certainly believe in freedom of the press as well as good investigative reporting, I also believe that too many innocent people have been thrown under the bus while a lack of leadership is stalling us from getting everyone on the bus and moving it forward.

What are my intentions?

My intentions are to help the amazing students who I served at Carolina from 2003-2010. The academic disparities that question the integrity in athletics will continue to exist until we address the real issue. The underlying problem is the lack of literacy skills that some of our admitted students bring to the classroom. We must develop an intensive, measurable literacy program and an appropriate course of study to support the educational needs of some of our most athletically gifted students. After working in the athletic department for seven years, primarily focused on teaching basic literacy skills, I realized that the mission of education was being jeopardized by the athletic program. Big wins which bring vastly increased revenue, had become far more important than student learning. I wrote a thesis on this topic.

The students I was privileged to work with during my tenure in athletics had real dreams of how they could contribute after their career in sports. They saw themselves teaching, coaching, counseling and even opening YMCAs in the poorest counties in NC. These are the students who, if provided a real Carolina degree, will once again shine a light on this hill. I strongly believe that it is possible to shift the Carolina culture to foster athletic success in tandem with academic success.

Who is really cheating/getting cheated?

(please note that out of 800 student athletes, roughly half are on the honor roll at the end of any semester, one fourth are making average grades which leaves approximately 200 needing additional resources, & some much more than others)

Peter French suggests in his book Ethics and College Sports, that the moral rationalization for sports in the university setting fits the mission statements of the major public universities – “to serve the public and strengthen the community”(French, 2004). But is this ‘strength’ at the expense of the student-athlete? It may be argued that the completion of the college degree itself is what makes this a quid pro quo relationship between the student and the college, who in fact do enter into a formally signed NCAA contract upon acceptance. During the recruiting process, promises are made with regards to the academic resources available to student athletes, such as class advising, scheduling and tutoring. The NCAA does in fact mandate programming to help the student-athlete be successful in the classroom. Therefore, once a school admits an underprepared student, they have a duty to provide them with these services and resources. Without these benefits, students are being exploited to make money for and to benefit the reputation of the university, and to entertain students, alumni and the community in which they live. Is it possible, though, to admit students who are so underprepared that they cannot comprehend college level coursework? Is there a moral obligation to these students?

To illustrate a point, here is a relevant example: a state resident student and recognized football player is graduating from high school and interested in attending a college football program within the state. This student has attended public school since kindergarten in the state public school system and won his local high school a state football championship. He cannot read or write at grade level; it appears from his educational testing that he is functionally illiterate; however, he has somehow cleared the NCAA rules to be an eligible recruit. While he is unlikely to graduate, he will get excellent training and could potentially have a career in the National Football League. Fans will be thrilled by his football skills (blocks and tackles) and he will receive some education, tutoring, and room and board. No student that is admitted is guaranteed a degree, but this particular student signed a contract, played his sport and learned more academically than he did in any other school setting. –from my thesis

Graduation Rates, Race and Special Admits

It has recently been claimed that 58% of our committee case (special/tiered admits) student athletes make it to graduation: I ask, at what cost? Academic dishonesty in the form of illegitimate courses and sub par coursework is the cost.

A cultural debate by sociologists has been taking place since the 1950s, (when public schools were integrated), regarding the poor graduation rate of black college athletes. Daniel Rascher (sports economist) examines the idea of racism in sport when he states that,

52% of NCAA football players and 61% of NCAA men’s basketball players are African-American, compared with 12.5% for the general US population. The excess revenues generated by these athletes are spent on other programs elsewhere on campus where the population is predominately white (Grant, et al., 2008).

This shows the exploitation of black athletes. Harry Edwards, an activist on improving the academic conditions and images of the African American male believes that the lowering of the SAT scores is in fact is a method of exploitation (Althouse and Brooks, 2000). Given the societal interest of college sports, and the economic strength of the NCAA, a movement to increase the admission standards might actually force better educational opportunities for ill-served youth. (from thesis mw)

Teaching & Learning

Perspectives from these past three years outside of athletics…

Moving to an academic role outside of athletics has allowed me to observe the culture of the University from a different perspective. The academic culture is a driving force for the overall academic divides created between many student groups, not just the athletes. My new job duties expose me to students who struggle with learning; and yet they do not appear to be under prepared for the academic rigor at Carolina, nor are they busy with a full time schedule outside of academics. These students – – transfers, minorities, non-traditional students and veterans, – – struggle to achieve academic success most often in our STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses. These courses require conceptualization and critical thinking, skills that are not demonstrated or taught by instructors. The course material is presented, requiring students to teach themselves and then to figure out how to synthesize the material. Frustration and anxiety ensue as students fail tests because they do not know how to study. The founders of this public institution created an academy in 1795 to work with students who needed remediation; unfortunately remediation only existed for about a decade. Perhaps we should bring it back into existence. The current academic culture appears to be a step removed from the instruction necessary for many of these students to be successful. We need to enhance our teaching pedagogy across the curriculum as well as include transitional courses that teach learning for some of our most under-served student groups.

The Paper Class Dilemma

The 25 page paper – honors course vs. remedial course

I now work with students at Carolina who spend 40+ hours per week on their academic work. Our academically gifted students are driven by their hopes and dreams of medical school, graduate school and MBA programs. The amount of time and effort that students spend to achieve excellence in the classroom, while participating in numerous enrichment activities, and research is phenomenal.

Thinking back to my time spent at the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes –and reading all of the articles about ‘paper classes’ –brings back many memories of the challenges we faced as a staff. It was difficult to suggest a course schedule for an under-prepared student who also spent 40+ hours a week on athletics. Apparently this is no longer the job of the academic adviser; and although I agree that ‘schedule engineering’ is questionable from a post-secondary mission perspective, I would continue to argue that admitting students who are unable to do the coursework is also an ethical dilemma. My personal experience with the independent study/paper class was that if learning was not taking place then I was not doing my job. Maintaining eligibility, however, is the mission of all NCAA support groups for student athletes; and eventually I chose to look for work outside of athletics.

From Field to Classroom

First and foremost, we must openly admit that we were wrong, no matter how painful – When will we start moving forward? More importantly, how will we lead the way?

Thesis Abstract

Since its inception, collegiate football has been impacted by low retention and graduation rates. While admission standards are on the rise at major public universities, many under-prepared student-athletes (football) are admitted each year because they are the ‘best’ player in the state/country, creating academic disparities. The history, culture and economic success of the university athletic program, especially football, play a pivotal role in explaining these disparities.

The data collected and recorded over the past two decades will demonstrate that there is a growing disparity in the academic preparation between college students and college student-athletes (football) at thirty-one Division I institutions. The GPA (grade point average), SAT (Scholastic Achievement Test) scores, and graduation rates, however, do not accurately measure these discrepancies. The academic deficits of the special admit student-athlete can only be assessed through performance based measurements of reading, writing and math. Ideally, these assessments should be done much earlier in the education process so that remediation can take place before entering college.

The academic support and resources available to student-athletes might be sufficient, however a fair question would be, is it possible to remediate and take college level degree applicable courses at the same time. The graduation rate of DI football players (50%, 2009) can possibly be explained by the low admission standards that suggest a lack of proficiency in basic academic skills.

Concussions-Academic Impact

Concussions can affect learning. Students at UNC, suffering cognitive impairments from concussions have recently started to self-identify. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention publishes information about concussions and learning. Students who sustain concussions will complain of focus and memory problems in the classroom. Often times, an athlete will report that they are sent back to practice and games before cognitive symptoms have subsided. Many students hide or deny their concussion and /or symptoms because they recognize that too many concussions could end their athletic ‘career’. The recovery is prolonged when a student continues to exert him or herself in sport, not allowing the brain to heal. Coaches and sports medicine staff rarely, if ever, consult with the academic support staff to collaborate, or to discuss possible accommodations for the classroom. If education is a priority, then keeping the brain safe from injury is important, but clearly overlooked – – in the world of athletics vs. academics.

Contract Law

Is the intercollegiate athletic contract fraudulent?

Some coaches provide a realistic picture of what is expected of their athletes. True, there are enormous demands on their time, but with the proper services, time management is possible. However, for this to take place, everyone must comply both with the letter and the spirit of the rules. The NCAA and its member institution representatives have enacted rules to prevent the drive for athletic success from undermining or compromising academic success. It is now up to the NCAA and the universities to enforce the 20 hour rule so that coaches do not take advantage of the students. Student-athletes are promised by way of the contractual agreement that these time rules will be followed. This is a reasonable assumption. It is unethical and deceptive to bend the rules, to find loopholes, to ignore or to skirt the rules. Further, the NCAA should routinely observe and assess the resources available to these students. It is also necessary to reevaluate admissions criteria at this time, given that the discrepancy between students and student athletes (special admits) has grown so wide. Ideally, the relationship between the student and the university is reciprocal: the school gives athletes the avenue to play the sport that they love while providing them with an education in the form of a legitimate college degree. (thesis MW)

Just as the NFL is now contending with brain injury law suits, I predict that in the very near future, collegiate sport students will take legal action against the NCAA. The new super conferences will only help to clarify the contractual misrepresentation already present in collegiate football.

Transparency

Remember the ‘TWEET’ –that is how our athletic scandal became public knowledge. Do not underestimate the power of social media to expose corruption and mismanagement (“revealing the rot” by Monica Guy). “The University is in good shape”, said our Chancellor –to Student Congress this week(DTH). As more information avails itself, his statement will be supported and denied by students, alumni, faculty, and staff. The past is all we have to predict the future, and the Chancellor once supported a Coach and Athletic Director – they are gone. After that, it was the fault of a rogue tutor, employee and department. We have taken advantage and manipulated our most vulnerable. The road ahead needs immediate attention. Redemption requires honesty. We owe it to ourselves, and the people of this Great State to tell the truth, and fix all that is broken. Transparency will present itself, because there is no longer a way to sweep everythingunder the carpet. TWEET

SACS and the Big Sweep

The Southern Association of Colleges in Schools (SACS), responsible for monitoring the academic quality of schools, will be on campus in April. In advance, an article by Kane & Stancill appeared in the N&O with a preliminary call to action – a letter that states “clean it up” from the President (Belle Wheelan). One suggestion made by Wheelan is to offer the athletes a chance to return for a legitimate degree. This, by the way, might require some serious make up work. It is the right thing to do. And, please, do not stress on how to find the students, we will only need to tweet.

The #1 question: How were we operating? Profit sport students were operating under an eligibility model–athletics vs academics. And, let’s be honest, this is an endemic problem driven by the NCAA. I certainly hope that the game plan is changing here on the home court. If not, it had better happen quickly, and not at our usual glacial pace. SACS will want to see actions, not just reports.

E.O. Wilson (UNC Commencement, 2011) We seem to be at war with ourselves. “Stone age emotions, medieval institutions, god like technology”.

Carolina’s Academic Mission

Chancellor Thorp announces his new position at Washington University, St. Louis.

We have “a leadership deficit on campus as senior administrators continue to subscribe to the fiction that the jewels of the athletic program complement or at least do not compromise the academic mission of the university”. (Hunt, Professor Emeritus, UNC-CH, N&O 2/18)

Top officials are blind (or wear blinders) to the fact that many of our profit sport students cannot compete in the classroom. Our education system has failed them. Here, at this very place, in 1795, the leaders understood educational inequities, and created an academy to help students prepare for admission. The ‘Academy’ stayed in existence for a little more than a decade. In honor of President Friday, the Academy should be reinstated. If not, the athletic academic model, driven by eligibility, will continue to be a problem.

The Paper Class Dilemma – Part 2

“UNC-CH academic officials say they did not become aware of the bogus classes until after the NCAA had finished its investigation into improper financial benefits to football players from agents and improper help from the tutor and had sent a notice of allegations to the school.” From Dan Kane’s blog

Which academic officials? I would argue that in addition to a lack of institutional control –the NCAA failed to investigate. Will this nightmare never end?


The Money

Eligibility

comments on ‘cutting and pasting’
Many athletic departments keep their athletes eligible by encouraging students to take easy classes and majors. Most football programs have an advisor who assigns schedules and classes; and many colleges offer priority registration for student-athletes. Often the most ‘at-risk’ and high profile student-athletes have mentors and are assigned 1-1 tutorial sessions to achieve a passing grade. Cheating, of course, becomes a temptation for those students who are so under prepared for the academic rigor of the institution (Hamilton, 2004). Not only the performance abilities but also the cognitive capacity of the student-athlete plays a role in the legitimacy of their academic achievements. For example, a student who comes from a poor county in the state and attends a public school system that graduates less than 60% of their students from high school is most likely ill equipped to attend, understand, and then pass a college class. Grade changes and academic special favors are commonplace. –thesis mw

Winning at What Cost?

Who is really in charge on the college campus today? Follow the money….

The mission of higher education is to promote opportunities for educational growth in an atmosphere of academic achievement and integrity. The overriding goal of big-time sports is to win – which translates into high level entertainment and big revenues (French, 2004). In an effort to increase their revenues, athletic departments at NCAA DI schools have grown over the years. The football program alone can now employ anywhere from 30 to 150 people. The trouble is that it is difficult to understand where all of the profits go from ticket sales, television appearances, donations, corporate sponsorship’s and naming rights. Disclosure is far from transparent, and since these institutions all operate on a not for profit status, one might wonder why the IRS does not investigate. As reported in 2005 by USA Today, financial information collected from 119 DI schools was incorrect; these identified discrepancies ranged from minor infractions to a major $34 million dollar error (Grant, et al., 2008). The budgets for the smallest to largest of these schools are 5.5 million to 90 million as of 2004/05 (source: Department of Education from Grant, et al. 2008).

The typical budget in a sports program at any given university is about 32% on salary, 31% on facilities and 18% on scholarship. As of 2006, the largest growing category in the budget was for salary and benefits (Grant, et al., 2008). In 2006, the NCAA entered into an agreement with CBS to televise the men’s basketball tournament. At this time, CBS paid the NCAA an average of $545 million per year in tax-free money. The president of CBS Sports was quoted as saying; “There is no more important event at CBS, not just CBS Sports, than the men’s basketball championship” (Grant, et al., 2008). The NCAA receives 85% of its revenues from the sale of television rights. Each year, the NCAA distributes more than $100 million from its Basketball Fund to DI institutions. The Football Bowl Series (BCS) has an agreement with the Fox network paying $80 million annually from 2007 – 2010, however ESPN has out bid them and will pay $125 million per year from 2011-2014. These monies are distributed based on performance in the NCAA. Each tournament or bowl victory earns more money for the winning team’s athletic conference. The Rose Bowl continues to remain under a separate contract (Fizil and Fort, 2004).

Rewarding athletics instead of academic performance seems to be contradictory to the NCAA’s tax-exempt mission, and sends a message to member institutions and athletes that athletics is more important than academics. In 2006, Congress investigated the non-profit status of the NCAA. The non-profit status is justified (according to the Operating Board) because it supports higher education and the importance of academics. A few questions posed (many questions were asked but never answered) were, why does the NCAA distribute more than $100 million each year based on athletic rather than academic performance? What percentage of NCAA revenue do your member institutions spend solely on academic matters?

Coaches’ salaries account for one of the biggest expenses of DI-A athletic departments, according to reports printed in USA Today in 2008. More than 35 college coaches receive salaries of at least one million dollars per year. Sources of revenue to pay these rising salaries include student fees, corporate sponsorship, and television deals. Paying coaches excessive compensation also makes less revenue available for other sports, causing many athletic departments to operate at a net loss.

During the early 2000’s, 35-40% of DI athletic departments reported a profit; so the question then becomes, is athletics a good investment for the University? There is no need to debate the issue of which is more important, athletics or academics, because we know that education is far more valuable to society than sports. The fact of the matter is that many people, not just students, derive considerable pleasure from watching, reading and talking about sports; it is part of our culture (Grant, et al., 2008). from thesis mw

UNC – Truth & Reform

What is the truth behind our “academic” (not athletics) scandal?

Our academic culture is embedded in consensus management, flawed by large committees and too many meetings. The most obvious road block to reform is our poor decision-making structure which impedes any real action. We replace a few people and reassign duties, but intentional, systemic change to shift behaviors remains absent. As well, we continue to hire in our own image and likeness which can only feed the machine. A deep rooted problem, recently made apparent is a lack of trust amongst colleagues. I would argue that this has happened because the faculty and staff simply do not take the time to get to know each other, as we once did on this campus.

Learning and intellectual freedom should be core values at a public institution such as UNC. These values are the driving force behind the original proclamation of ‘The Carolina Way’. Now it appears that silence is a more favorable position. I am deeply saddened that some who remain silent are being held solely responsible for the mistakes of so many. Creativity, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship do not develop out of passive behavior, but rather grow from questions, vocalized concerns and conflict resolution.

How do we reform our organization? This is a challenge that we must face together; it impacts our students and the future of this great institution.

UNC NCAA INVESTIGATION

Cost of multiple internal investigations – $1,000,000+

Cost of truth – $0

Transparency – Priceless


NCAA

What is Wrong with the NCAA Admission Standards?

NCAA Admission Standards (from NCAA website)

Earn a combined SAT or ACT sum score that matches the core course grade-point average and test-score sliding scale. (For example, a 3.000 core-course grade-point average needs at least a 620 SAT). 620 is combined…the SAT scores you’ll need to get into one of the four-year state of North Carolina colleges and universities, here’s (below) a side-by-side comparison of scores for the middle 50% of enrolled students.

If your scores fall within or above these ranges, you’re on target for admission to one of these public universities in the state of North Carolina. (from the UNC admissions website)

Critical Reading 630

Math 720

1350 combined above

Writing 680

Multiple choice 70

Essay 8

General SAT Score Data Average scores of college bound HS seniors,

Verbal/Math combined (scale is 200-800), SAT College Board. Year –

SAT (combined verbal & math)

1976 – 998

1986 – 1009

1996 – 1015

2006 – 1021

Under-prepared Student-Athletes (from thesis mw)

A wing of the NCAA organization referred to as the clearinghouse determines initial eligibility for both academic eligibility and amateur playing status. A number of ways still exist for both transcripts and test scores to be illegitimate. The clearinghouse has made an effort to legitimize the scores by streamlining the process. The clearinghouse has also made mistakes in the past and with the new ‘independent high schools’, those 24 that allow students to graduate high school on-line or in the ‘virtual classroom’, more issues may surface. The football system also has many prep schools such as Hargrave Military Academy and Oak Hill Academy (both in VA) where students can  somehow meet NCAA eligibility standards in a 5th year of High School. Once admitted, these students have to meet a minimum GPA requirement and credit hour requirement to maintain eligibility. To keep student-athletes eligible, universities invest considerable resources in academic support services. Duderstadt (2003) noted that at Michigan “the Student Athlete Support Program consists of a director, six full time advisors, three assistant advisors, 70 tutors, 10 specialized writing instructors and 15 proctors for supervised study sessions.” Duderstadt, a former president of the University of Michigan, went on record saying that his school “brought in students who had no hope of getting a meaningful education, we keep them eligible as long as we can and then ‘toss them aside’ when they lose it” (Price, 2004).

Philosophical and Ethical Issues

The moral question remains: in the drive for athletic success are we undermining or compromising academic success? Are institutions deceiving these athletes in the process? Unfortunately, they are. 

The chance that a college football player will thrive academically while competing at the DI level of athletics seems improbable. The average athletic schedule (regulated by the NCAA) is a 20-hour practice week. This requirement, however, does not appear to be followed, and there are some gray areas as far as what counts for the allowed 20 hours (Griffin, 2008). Film, meetings and travel, along with specific medical training needs may take a student closer to a 30-hour week schedule (Holsendolph, 2006). Students must be enrolled in 12 hours of course work, bringing their week to a possible 42 hours not including study time. The average college student spends between 15 and 20 hours per week studying, which brings a football player’s schedule to 62 hours per week (Griffin, 2008). It should be noted, however, that since many of these players are not prepared academically, they will need remedial work as well.

Some coaches provide a realistic picture of what is expected of their athletes. True, there are enormous demands on their time, but with the proper services, time management is possible. However, for this to take place, everyone must comply both with the letter and the spirit of the rules. The NCAA and its member institution representatives have enacted rules to prevent the drive for athletic success from undermining or compromising academic success. It is now up to the NCAA and the universities to enforce the 20 hour rule so that coaches do not take advantage of the students. Student-athletes are promised by way of the contractual agreement that these time rules will be followed. This is a reasonable assumption. It is unethical and deceptive to bend the rules, to find loopholes, to ignore or to skirt the rules. Further, the NCAA should routinely observe and assess the resources available to these students. It is also necessary to reevaluate admissions criteria at this time, given that the discrepancy between students and student athletes (special
admits) has grown so wide. Ideally, the relationship between the student and the university is reciprocal: the school gives athletes the avenue to play the sport that they love while providing them with an education in the form of a legitimate college degree.

Cover Up

Since Dan Kane’s article printed in the N&O on 11/18; I have received many interesting emails, phone calls and inquiries. The most fascinating has been the response, or rather lack thereof, from university administrators. I am truly grateful for the outpouring of support from friends, colleagues, faculty, and people across the country who share concerns about the culture of academics and collegiate sport. Our faculty committee for athletic reform has reached out to me several times. I look forward to being included in the discussion on how to improve the academic climate at our institution.

My intentions with regards to this blog and my public statements are in response to President Friday’s question about using the term “student-athlete”. Our conversation back in the fall of 2010, and my thesis focused specifically on DI football players. I continue to argue that it is simply not possible for students who are extremely academically underprepared to do college-level work. I pose the question: What reading and writing level does a student need to achieve in order to be successful in the classroom here at Carolina? If the answer is high school competency or above – as recently noted in the DTH – than I would argue (with solid evidence from data collected*), that over the past decade, we have admitted hundreds of revenue sports students who were significantly below the necessary level of competency. The NCAA is reaping financial benefits while setting the students and our institutions up for continued academic fraud. We all know this to be true, the question is: What can be done?

*Revenue athletes entering first year between 2004 and 2012 (178 sample space)
Community College comparison
64% of the students did not score high enough (greater than 500VSAT/20RACT) to place out of a
developmental reading class at Durham Tech. The reading classes (070,080,090) are prerequisites to all programming. Students who place lower than what is required for 070 are directed to take a general preparatory course (basic skills review class) first. Of that 64%, 25-30% may fall into that category given their SATV score of less than 400.

NCAA — Dissenting Views

The following are the NCAA ’3 principles’* — where we begin to head right down the rabbit hole.

Those who participate in intercollegiate athletics are to be students attending a university or college. If some athletes are not capable of college level work, can they be students?

Intercollegiate athletics contests are to be fair, conducted with integrity, and the safety and well-being of those who participate are paramount. Are classes such as paper classes instructed with academic integrity? Are the number of concussions not in fact killing football players?

Intercollegiate athletics is to be wholly embedded in universities and colleges.
Do athletes really get a college experience?

* as referenced from
“Cheering on the Collegiate Model: Creating, Disseminating, and Imbedding the
NCAA’s Redefinition of Amateurism”
Richard M. Southall, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ellen J. Staurowsky, Drexel University

The Call For Academic Reform

I strongly believe that it is possible to shift the Carolina culture to foster athletic success in tandem with academic success. Athletic achievement does not equate to academic achievement, although our culture leads us to believe that these operate equally in the parallel world of ‘collegiate sports’.

The Students: We must develop an intensive, measurable literacy program and an appropriate course of study to support the educational needs of some of our most athletically gifted students. The current academic culture appears to be a step removed from the instruction necessary for many of these students to be successful. We need to be realistic about the priorities of students and work together with coaches to ensure academics are a priority. The founders of this public institution created an academy in 1795 to work with students who needed remediation; unfortunately the academy only existed for about a decade. We should bring that academy back into existence to address the lack of proficiency in basic academic skills for some of our most gifted athletes who entertain us on game day and provide funding for all of the other sports on campus.

The Money: Is athletics a good investment for the University? There is no need to debate the relative importance of athletics or academics: because we know that education is far more valuable to society than sports. Division I universities run a semi-pro league, but at what cost? Academic dishonesty in the form of illegitimate courses and sub-par coursework is the cost. A portion of the big (tax free) money should be filtered back to academics to promote integrity and honesty. This money should provide the programming necessary to help student athletes reach their potential in the classroom. However, it is critical that academic support programs NOT be housed in athletics. Programming such as tutoring, supplemental instruction, and reading and writing support should be directed and monitored by educators, hired by the university, who work closely with the students.

A National Institutional Problem: The NCAA must change with regards to the unrealistic rules and admission standards for student athletes. These impractical guidelines force schools to sacrifice integrity at the cost of academic and educational opportunities for students who will never ‘go pro’. Why do we continue to ignore the truth that several of these athletically gifted students simply cannot do the college level academic work? In addition we, the adults, expect students to maintain their coursework while they also work a full time and very physical job with the risk of injury. Adult leaders have created and are perpetuating this system, the student athletes deserve better.

Literacy: We know that education is the only way out of poverty, thus a sound education is the right of every citizen. Yet, because of socioeconomic issues, and our failing K-12 public school systems, the basic skills such as reading and writing are often not taught successfully. If we do not make certain that our gifted revenue sport athletes are competent readers and writers, then we have not only failed, but we have exploited these students.

The Martin Report

Governor Martin had an opportunity to expose the underlying cause of the University’s need for fraudulent classes:

–to point to the NCAA’s corruption

–to show that player eligibility is more important than a legitimate education

–to draw attention to the plight of the academically under-prepared athlete

–and not just here at Carolina, but for all collegiate athletic programs across the country

Unfortunately, the 77 page report revealed none of these truths.

(Martin Report)

Martin Report – Part 2

One of the many flaws of the Martin Report is that it focuses on the people and the department, while avoiding the issue.

Zenger Miller Basic Principle #1: Focus on the situation, issue, or behavior, not on the person.
While working in Athletics from 2003-2010, I recognized and recorded basic academic skill eficits in several of our admitted athletes. The vast majority of these students were interested in learning, but discouraged by the challenges they faced in our classrooms.

One athlete told me that while his high school classmates were taking AP classes, he was practicing, competing and traveling on multiple teams to improve in his sport. Those straight A students could not compete on the playing field with him; at the same time, he could not compete in the classroom. Another athlete told me that many of her high school classmates deserved to get into Carolina, and were not admitted. She felt a great deal of guilt and even embarrassment that she had been admitted because of her sport. She told us that she had something to prove, and wanted to excel in the classroom. The work, however, was at a very high level, and she struggled because of her need for remedial support. One of my favorite athletes was a young man who worked hard, and did everything that he could to improve his basic literacy skills. He was grateful for the opportunity and once mentioned that he had lived in a car during his childhood (not a world most of us know anything about). He played multiple sports for us, could not graduate, and the last I heard, was unemployed. Some might say that we gave him a chance, but I would argue that our system failed him. Our athletes and what they provide for our institution is remarkable.They deserve the educational opportunity that we claim is available when we extend a scholarship.

I often reflect on Zenger Miller Basic Principle #1: How can we focus on this situation and make the scholarship contract legitimate for our athletes? The Martin Report failed to review transcripts that show how a bogus paper class system was used for the purpose of eligibility. Sadly, it does not seem to matter, the profits have all been counted, the banners hung, and the students we failed have already left campus. The Martin Report is largely flawed, however, by absolving athletics, and condemning academics. It is the NCAA machine that fuels the fundamental problems of inequality in our educational system.

Lack of Institutional Control

Board of Governors~

Ladies and Gentleman,
Where have you been? “Smokescreen” you say – really? Please do not throw one more person under the bus, everyone knew (in and outside of athletics) –and it was all about eligibility. Look at the transcripts. As government officials, lawyers, and business people, you know that writing reports and/or emails about bogus classes would not have been a good idea. This was a systemic problem, a clear lack of institutional control –do you think?

A few of you have suggested that the NCAA should investigate.“Hell yes” – according to Mr. Mitchell (N&O). The majority of you have said that it is time to move forward.

Indeed. We should adopt the Drake Group Proposals – a road back to academic integrity. The traffic is moving that way, and we have the opportunity to get out ahead — and perhaps to even lead the way. The Carolina Way.


Literacy

The Call For Academic Reform

I strongly believe that it is possible to shift the Carolina culture to foster athletic success in tandem with academic success. Athletic achievement does not equate to academic achievement, although our culture leads us to believe that these operate equally in the parallel world of ‘collegiate sports’.

The Students: We must develop an intensive, measurable literacy program and an appropriate course of study to support the educational needs of some of our most athletically gifted students. The current academic culture appears to be a step removed from the instruction necessary for many of these students to be successful. We need to be realistic about the priorities of students and work together with coaches to ensure academics are a priority. The founders of this public institution created an academy in 1795 to work with students who needed remediation; unfortunately the academy only existed for about a decade. We should bring that academy back into existence to address the lack of proficiency in basic academic skills for some of our most gifted athletes who entertain us on game day and provide funding for all of the other sports on campus.

The Money: Is athletics a good investment for the University? There is no need to debate the relative importance of athletics or academics: because we know that education is far more valuable to society than sports. Division I universities run a semi-pro league, but at what cost? Academic dishonesty in the form of illegitimate courses and sub-par coursework is the cost. A portion of the big (tax free) money should be filtered back to academics to promote integrity and honesty. This money should provide the programming necessary to help student athletes reach their potential in the classroom. However, it is critical that academic support programs NOT be housed in athletics. Programming such as tutoring, supplemental instruction, and reading and writing support should be directed and monitored by educators, hired by the university, who work closely with the students.

A National Institutional Problem: The NCAA must change with regards to the unrealistic rules and admission standards for student athletes. These impractical guidelines force schools to sacrifice integrity at the cost of academic and educational opportunities for students who will never ‘go pro’. Why do we continue to ignore the truth that several of these athletically gifted students simply cannot do the college level academic work? In addition we, the adults, expect students to maintain their coursework while they also work a full time and very physical job with the risk of injury.  Adult leaders have created and are perpetuating this system, the student athletes deserve better.

Literacy: We know that education is the only way out of poverty, thus a sound education is the right of every citizen. Yet, because of socioeconomic issues, and our failing K-12 public school systems, the basic skills such as reading and writing are often not taught successfully. If we do not make certain that our gifted revenue sport athletes are competent readers and writers, then we have not only failed, but we have exploited these students.

Learning vs Playing

@ my school and other NCAA DI schools across the country

Of the 2,707 post-secondary institutions (4 year) in the United States, roughly 40% have NCAA athletic programs (according to nces.edu.gov/2007). 12% of these schools are considered DI, 11%, D2 and 16% D3 schools. Divisions are determined by the number of scholarships, sports teams, and matches/games scheduled against opponents in that division (Grant et al., 2008). Financial rewards for the NCAA and the colleges themselves are most closely associated with media coverage; DI schools reap the benefits from televised basketball and football bowl games and championships.

In order to achieve the success on the playing field necessary to reach these fiscally rewarding windfalls, schools and coaches must recruit the best players in the country and even the world. Unfortunately, athletic achievement does not equate to academic achievement, although our culture leads us to believe that these operate equally in the parallel world of ‘collegiate sports’–from thesis mw

Why do we continue to ignore the truth that several of these athletically gifted students simply cannot do the academic work? In addition we, the adults, expect them to maintain their coursework while they also work a full time and very physical job with the risk of injury. Many of these talented young athletes say that they have never written a paper or read an entire book.

Often times in middle and high school they were told to come to school only on game day. One student remarked that his 5 th grade teacher told him that he would never be able to read or go to college. That young man refused to take the infamous ‘paper class’, commenting that he could not write a page, let alone 20 pages. He mentioned that he was planning to invite his 5th grade teacher to his graduation at UNC.

Several institutional changes would improve the likelihood of student-athlete success. Perhaps teaching reading remediation courses along with tutoring and supplemental instruction, after assessing students reading, writing and math skills would be the most beneficial way to increase retention and graduation rates. Upon admission, a summer and full school year without sport focusing on academics, might improve the graduation rate among student-athletes. High School programs must stop lowering the bar for these and other students who struggle with proficiency exams such as end of course testing during middle and high school. Finally, the NCAA should consider raising their standards of admission or requiring a more accurate way of measuring a recruit’s academic performance. – from thesis mw

Moving Forward

I strongly believe that it is possible to shift the Carolina culture to foster athletic success in tandem with academic success.

It is certainly time to move forward and therefore we must decide on how to change the culture of college athletics. Change is imminent, healing is needed. The lives of so many of our talented young people are depending on us – I for one can still see their faces. Since literacy skills are at the core of of our educational problems across the country, and the NCAA recognizes that most student athletes go ‘pro’ at something other than sport, why not create an optional NCAA ‘literacy corps’? In this way athletes can follow a course of study at colleges across the country, play sport and legitimately master coursework while learning to teach/coach at the same time. They would have the option to return to their home communities (or other communities) and champion both fitness (coaching) and literacy (reading instruction) at public schools. I suggest that the NCAA ‘literacy corps’ program be funded by the NCAA. OK, so I have a big dream.

Admissions First

Impacting change with regards to admission standards

Recruiting practices need to change first: coaches should be given specific academic guidelines to follow by the university, not the NCAA. Each institution should examine data carefully with regards to special admits, student success in the classroom as well as their success post graduation. Evidence should then determine realistic admission standards as well as the resources needed to remediate this group of under-prepared students. Otherwise, why admit any ‘committee case’/special admit students?

Students receive special admissions because of their athletic ability. Unfortunately, the public accepts and is not troubled by the fact that DI football players graduate at a rate lower (55%) than general population college students (79%). People want to be entertained; alumni want to take pride in their athletic teams; and the university wants to make money; so low graduation rates are overlooked. Of course graduation is not guaranteed to any student admitted to a college or university. However, student-athletes and their families are presented with a false image of how things will turn out for them.

In the book, The Game of Life, the following example is provided to clarify this false image: The photographs of well-coifed men and women that hang in the windows of many hairdressers’ storefronts provide an excellent example of why it is important to recognize differences among subjects at the beginning of an experiment. In every case, the people look beautiful. The message that we as potential customers are receiving from these photographs is “Come in here, and you too will leave looking beautiful.” But if, alas, we are far from beautiful when we walk in the door, the chances are that we will not be beautiful when we leave. We may look better—the ‘treatment’ may have a positive effect—but we cannot hope for the outcomes intimated by the alluring photos herein inputs (beautiful people with great hair) were jumbled together with the ‘treatment’ (haircuts) (Shulman, and Bowen 2001).

The problem of deception is still a concern for the under-prepared admitted student-athlete who assumes that a degree and/or a professional career are realistically attainable.

The Advanced Placement (AP) Advantage

“Usage of AP and IB tests reviewed”
UNC administrators are questioning how effective college-level courses are.
(study done by UNC admissions and Odum Institute)
–as reported in the Daily Tar Heel, Tuesday, November 27, 2012
http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2012/11/usage-of-ap-and-ib-tests-reviewed

GPA –

3.07 (0 college level courses)
3.26 (5 college level courses)
3.25 (10 college level courses)

Given this report: What is the impact on GPA for students who are admitted with reading deficits?


The Faculty

Athletic Reform Group (ARG)

The Athletic Reform Group will present a Statement of Principles to Faculty Council next week. The main idea of the document is to lay claim to the importance of academic integrity at Carolina. In 2010, President Friday asked, “Where are the faculty in all of this?” His spirit, along with that of William Aycock and Frank Porter Graham will be felt as this document is read. Let it not fall on deaf ears, or be put off until another term, with excuses and/or promises.

Our athletic scandal has led to several heated discussions where bombastic rhetoric, like it or not, was sometimes necessary. Conflict can lead to reform. ARG has committed to a forward movement that will benefit this great institution. It is the Carolina Way. The town hall meetings that ARG proposes will serve to discuss, among other issues, the necessary and legitimate support that our students deserve.

“We must restore faith on campus, across the state, and around the country that our university operates an athletic enterprise that is just, honest and in line with the academic ideals and standards of UNC-CH.”ARG