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UNC system report details athletes' academic qualifications

Posted January 9, 2014

— After a CNN report put negative attention on the academic progress of student-athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the UNC System Board of Governors released its own annual report on athletes and their academic qualifications.

There was little discussion during the board’s meeting Thursday about the UNC Intercollegiate Athletics Report, which details how many freshmen student-athletes got exceptions to the admission standards applied to the general student body.

Of the 193 recruits admitted as freshmen to UNC-Chapel Hill in 2012-13, three got a waiver on the minimum course requirements. In the rest of the UNC Class of 2016, one other student got such an exception.

The numbers seem to be in stark contrast to a story aired earlier this week by CNN, which conducted its own analysis of 183 athletes at UNC-CH over an eight-year span. That report said 60 percent were reading between fourth- and eighth-grade levels.

UNC administrators questioned the accuracy of the CNN report, including a quote from a source who said a former basketball player who could not read or write. “We do not believe that claim and find it patently unfair to the many student-athletes who have worked hard in the classroom and on the court and represented our university with distinction," the school said in a statement Wednesday.

According to the Intercollegiate Athletics Report, average grade-point averages and SAT scores for incoming football players at UNC-CH climbed in 2012-13, hitting 3.43 and 1060, respectively. Those values were tops among the 11 schools in the UNC System that play football.

Average GPAs for incoming men’s basketball players at UNC-CH declined to 2.96, down from 3.14 in 2011-12. Only NC A&T University and Elizabeth City State reported lower GPAs of the 11 schools measured.

In the entire UNC system, 22 out of 1,343 freshman recruits in 2012-13 received exceptions, according to the report. That figure represents less than one-tenth of one percent of all the 32,374 freshmen in the system for the academic year.

Also noted in the report:

*Eleven of the 4,270 incoming freshmen at North Carolina State University received minimum course requirement exceptions. Of those, five were student athletes.

*GPA and SAT scores at NC State for NC State freshmen recruited to play football and basketball decreased in 2012-13.

*The NCAA recognized five teams from UNC-CH for making exceptional academic progress, the most of any school in the UNC system. Four other schools, including NC State, had three teams recognized for their progress.

*Business, including management and marketing, is the top-choice major for 21 percent of all student-athletes across the system. Parks, recreation, leisure and fitness account for 15 percent while communication/journalism is the focus of 11 percent.

*Twelve of the 15 UNC system schools that feature athletics received an NCAA violation. However, only one infraction was deemed to be major (Level I). That one was reported by UNC-Greensboro. UNC and NC State each reported 20 or more possible infractions in 2012-13, which is not out of the ordinary for athletic programs of their size, according to the report.


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  • NHS_Junior Jan 14, 2014

    Can any of you read? The GPAs are referring to the incoming students, not the GPAs of those already in school. Although I agree it is inappropriate to pass the buck, the high schools need to be held accountable for people who can't read receiving high enough grades to be eligible to play in college.

  • rayraynral Jan 10, 2014

    The CNN article used data before 2012. The data in this article is after that. You cannot use a different timeframe to refute that study. Nice try though. And referencing SAT scores? Really? Everybody with any brain knows the athletes that UNC wants are not taking SAT's. There is a smart person being paid to take it and put the athletes name on it.
    4. Referencing GPA's is also stupid. It has been proven that they were getting their grades changed, getting A's in no show classes, and getting tutors to do their work for them. JESUS again.
    Hopefully the CNN reporter calls them out on these 4 facts. I would think she is smart enough to see this.

  • WRAL_USER Jan 10, 2014

    Oh yea, BTW... posters with words to the effect of "all schools do it" should be ashamed. UNC has issues that can no longer be whitewashed and are in the light. They got caught and need to deal with it in an adult manner not the dishonest underhanded current line of response. They can only circle the wagons so much this time around... No lowly grad students to take the brunt of blame and punishment this time around... Shameful showing UNC.

  • tiblet Jan 10, 2014

    Metrics can be skewed to say whatever you want them to say...bottom line is that regardless of the GPA that a student athlete received...if they are reading below a 5th grade level it's very hard to believe that they earned above a 3.0 and met eligibility requirements to attend UNC. Put the student athlete in a room with a book and a reading educator and you will find out very quickly how they perform.

  • WRAL_USER Jan 10, 2014

    UNC paid for and was well aware of Willingham's research and reports. They first tried to lie about knowledge of the reports, until presented with emails to the contrary, they now are simply trying to save face in light of national scrutiny. UNC, admit you have these problems and act like an organization that is actually in the business of public education and fix these real academic problems. So far, you have acted like a (laughable) sports factory by denying these issues exist and pushing blame to all but yourself. Shame on UNC for handling these issues in such a dishonest manner...

  • Objective Scientist Jan 10, 2014

    University faculty and administrators at all universities are very adept at "parsing" words and finding "fault" with any research... it is what many actually do as part of their jobs each day! So... Willingham's research is "not perfect"! Little if any research is perfect... all research has limitations - aka "weaknesses". And that goes for research conducted by the faculty and administrators as well as Willingham's. It is with a very skeptical eye that I view the claims that applicants who possess elementary school levels of literacy are NEVER admitted. I have personally and clearly observed some athletes who would not rise above the elementary school literacy level in our universities. IT HAPPENS and it is sometimes painfully obvious today in many universities, so much that it make "University spokespersons" who claim it does not happen... look patently FOOLISH!

  • kmanc4s Jan 10, 2014

    All universities bend the academic rules with athletes. It's time it was exposed to the light of day.

  • Krimson Jan 10, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I love Tarholes willing to discredit their own University just to protect the Football Team...

  • maxweinberg8 Jan 10, 2014

    Not surprisingly, the report is spun to be favorable to athletics. But when 0.27% of the general population and 1.64% of athletes get exceptions, that's a big difference (more than 6 times more likely).

    A better review would ask: what percentage of "student"-athletes would have been admitted had they been considered in the general applicant pool?

    Better yet, why not call it what it is?...Football/Basketball at the university level is just a semi-professional league under the guise of an academic institution.

  • spiritseeker Jan 10, 2014

    Who to believe. I for one believe the most negative report as it parallels my observations based on the responses of UNC and NCSU athletes when interviewed by reporters. On the other hand Duke players generally use good and proper English which is contrary to those from UNC and NCSU who repeatedly insert "you know" into every "sentence" spoken by them.