Education

UNC academic support director reassigned

Posted August 22, 2012

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— The latest move in the effort by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to redefine the relationship between academics and athletics is the reassignment of Robert Mercer, former director of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes.

Mercer, who had been director since Oct. 2002, has been shifted to a role as special assistant for operations at the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence. He will continue to make a salary of $81,900.

The change was made effective Aug. 15 as outlined in a letter dated Aug. 3 and signed by Associate Dean and Director Harold Woodard. No reason for the move was stated in the letter.

"“Robert has done good work for us. This was one of those difficult decisions,” Woodard said. “What we are looking for is an opportunity to come out of this situation with the best program possible.”

The spokesperson said that the university will begin a national search for a new director of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes. The search will be chaired by dean of the graduate school, Steve Matson. In the meantime, Woodard will serve as the interim director.

“We have eliminated the dotted-line reporting relationship to athletics and have made it unequivocally part of the College of Arts and Sciences,” a UNC spokesperson said in a statement.

A recently released report of a faculty review suggested that academic advisors for student-athletes were steering players to certain courses within the African and Afro-American Studies Department.

An internal investigation done by UNC revealed that at least 54 courses within that department had irregularities, 43 of which were taught by now-retired department chair Julius Nyang’oro. A WRAL review found at least nine more summer independent study courses with irregular enrollment and a particularly high numbers of athletes.

Last week, UNC announced that former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin will lead an outside review of the university’s academic issues, particularly in the African and Afro-American Studies Department. Martin will work with an outside consulting firm to determine how far back and how deep rooted the problem of no-show classes, altered grades and other improprieties went.

In July, Bubba Cunningham, director of athletics at UNC, initiated a restructuring of the athletics administrative staff, hiring Senior Associate Athletic Director Vince Ille and Associate Athletic Director Paul Pogge. Cunningham also said that the supervision of compliance for the university’s 28 sports will now be overseen by six people, up from just one in the past.

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  • driverkid3 Aug 23, 2012

    I hope when this is finished, they will start investigating other universities that are doing the same thing. Every last speck of this needs to be rooted out. The spots these athletes are taking would be better served going to students who want to get an education. If they don't have the grades honestly, they don't need to be there.

  • unc70 Aug 23, 2012

    Check out the Den to see the "courses" being taught at State by the person in a similar job. Enjoy.

  • samr Aug 22, 2012

    Oh the beauty of being a state employee who knows too much. Fired? No way, just reassign him.

  • samr Aug 22, 2012

    Oh well, if you cant be an athlete, at least be an athletic supporter. not my real name

    Awesome ---- Grease (1978)

  • doggypoos Aug 22, 2012

    Now you have to go after most of the staff on the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes. The University will not begin to heal and move on if you keep the same cancers in place. New Athletic director, New building, New coach, New academic director, and you need to keep going until the mess is rooted out. Old staff keeps old habits. Rules need to be put in place for staff and student athletes like if you are on staff their is a conflict of interest to do anything else. The Academic faculty should have an over site committee that looks over sports academics for the best interest of the University. Athletics only looks out for the best interest of Athletics and the boosters. Time to clean house! If you do not score high enough on tests (SAT/ACT) and can not be accepted in college normally then you should not be given a curve or a waiver to be accepted.Go to community college first bro.

  • tafpirate Aug 22, 2012

    Who cares about a flagship. I'd much rather sail on a pirate ship. ECU!

  • Native NC gal Aug 22, 2012

    "The only ones that stick out their chest & call themselves "The Flagship" are unc-cheat fans.

    Also interesting that my 4th grader is not allowed to reference Wiki-pedia, but UNC-cheat grads (I assume you are a grad) use it freely. Well at least you referenced your source instead of plagiarising (I am assuming you wrote that w/out the help of a tutor)." - one

    Is ignorance bliss?

  • not my real name Aug 22, 2012

    Oh well, if you cant be an athlete, at least be an athletic supporter.

  • IMissYouOscar Aug 22, 2012

    Just slap a band-aid on it and it's fixed! - NOT!

  • one Aug 22, 2012

    "And who is the "flagship" of the University System in NC??? Certainly not UNC!!" - cwood3
    I beg to differ.
    From Wikipedia: ......UNC-Chapel Hill is INDEED the FLAGSHIP UNIVERSITY of the State of North Carolina.
    ------------------------------

    Interesting that you cannot find cheater hill listed as "The Flagship" on any UNC System documents

    The only ones that stick out their chest & call themselves "The Flagship" are unc-cheat fans.

    Also interesting that my 4th grader is not allowed to reference Wiki-pedia, but UNC-cheat grads (I assume you are a grad) use it freely. Well at least you referenced your source instead of plagiarising (I am assuming you wrote that w/out the help of a tutor).

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