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Some Faculty Members Are Upset With Choice of Sportscaster As UNC Commencement Speaker

Posted March 4, 2001

— The tension between academics and athletics is heating up again at UNC. Some faculty members are denouncing the choice of a sportscaster as commencement speaker.

This spring, ESPN sportscasterStuart Scott, a UNC graduate and former WRAL-TV reporter, will deliver thecommencement address. Some faculty members are questioning the university's priorities.

"This is not entertainment. This is commencement. I think those two are getting confused here," says faculty chair Sue Estroff.

The battle between athletics and academics is nothing new. Faculty members protested last fall when the university offered Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer $1 million a year to take over the UNC football program.

"I can tell you one thing - there's nobody on the faculty that makes that much money," Estroff says.

Faculty members and students work together to choose commencement speakers, but Estroff says the faculty was not told about the decision to invite Scott. Many students say choosing Scott was the right call.

"I think he'd be a lot more fun than a politician who'd put the students to sleep," says UNC student Scott Autrey. "He'll tell jokes and make people laugh instead instead of just sitting there."

"Everybody watches SportsCenter, at least everybody who watches sports," says UNC student Laura Eshbach. "At Carolina, everybody likes sports, so I think everybody will know who he is and what he does."

Scott says he considers himself a journalist, not an entertainer. He says he is surprised by the controversy. Scott also says he loves his school, where he "spent four years learning about life."

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