UNC seeking consultants to analyze reading-level data
Two weeks after the student-athlete reading level scandal took hold of UNC, the university is bringing in third-party educational testing consultants to examine the research data.
After a UNC Board of Trustees’ University Affairs Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon, Provost James Dean Jr. said the university will release the names of third-party consultants once they have permission to do so.
He said that should take a few weeks.
The CNN report published this month using research and anecdotes from UNC employee Mary Willingham stated that some former UNC basketball and football athletes didn’t know how to read or write, or couldn’t read beyond an eighth-grade level.
In front of the trustees, Dean said the Student-Athlete Academic Initiatives Working Group, which started in September, is reviewing the academic experience of student-athletes, from their recruitment to post-graduation.
He said the 10-person working group, which includes members such as Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham and Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions Stephen Farmer, is bringing together faculty, administrators and coaches to discuss recruitment for UNC’s 28 sports teams.
“This working group is one of the great symbols of a university that’s striving, without perfection, but striving to try and integrate, in the best possible way, academic life into athletic life,” Dean said.
University Affairs Committee Chair Alston Gardner thanked Dean and the members of the working group for their efforts.
“Sometimes that good work and positive momentum gets lost in the media,” Gardner said.
UNC Faculty Council Chair Jan Boxill said the university has spent much of 2014 so far addressing academic abuses and shortfalls.
“UNC is continuing to have to spend a great deal of time responding to restatements of the same abuses,” Boxill said.
She said UNC-Chapel Hill is hosting a TrueSport U Summit on “The Impact of College Athletics on Education, Youth Sport, and American Culture” May 2-3. UNC is teaming with Penn State University to sponsor the summit, which faced its own athletics department shake-up after a child sex-abuse scandal.
Boxill said student-athletes are the “high-profile ones,” who face the challenge of balancing an academic career with athletics.
“So it’s our duty to mitigate those challenges to become a national leader in new reform,” she said. “We have a long way to go, but I believe we’re on the right track to do this.”
The UNC Student-Athlete Academic Initiatives Working Group meeting will be held this Friday, 2 - 3:30 p.m., in room 105 of the South Building. The meeting is open to the public.