UNC system panel crafting student-athlete balance

Posted March 21, 2011 4:59 p.m. EDT
Updated March 21, 2011 6:41 p.m. EDT

— A task force appointed by University of North Carolina President Tom Ross on Monday began discussing how best to balance academics and athletics on the system's campuses to avoid more instances of misconduct.

Ross formed the 13-member group after problems with cheating cropped up at some UNC schools. An initial report is expected by May.

Last fall, 14 members of the UNC-Chapel Hill football team missed at least one game because of allegations of improper benefits from sports agents or academic misconduct. East Carolina University also reported problems to the NCAA involving a tutor and athletes.

"We are really looking at integrity within all divisions of athletic endeavors. We want to make sure that we are doing all we can to protect that," said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard, who heads up the task force. "It's a huge job."

Ballard said the process is complicated because of the diverse group of campuses and athletic programs in the UNC system.

"Everybody faces some of these things, but probably not all areas of risk are the same on each campus," he said.

The panel is looking at a variety of issues, including making sure players know the rules and what defines cheating, and the best way to train tutors so they know what type of help isn't allowed.

"I think we also have to consider very heavily technology and online classes. How do we define academic fraud or academic integrity?" said Angelia Nelson, assistant athletic director at Elizabeth City State University.

Members are also talking about how institutions waive admission standards when an athlete doesn't qualify. One example being studied is a six-step process at UNC-Charlotte that involves faculty.

"It only takes a few athletes, as we found out in our institution, to really embarrass the institution," Ballard said.