Task force: UNC System must improve academic oversight of student-athletes

Posted August 5, 2011 5:17 p.m. EDT
Updated August 5, 2011 6:25 p.m. EDT

A report released Friday by the University of North Carolina Task Force on Athletics and Academics defined specific prohibited behaviors such as lying, cheating, plagiarism and bribery and outlined ethical standards for student-athletes across the UNC System.

The 13-member task force, which has been at work since March, will present its findings to the Board of Governors next Thursday.

The group pointed out that tensions exist between athletics and academics on all campuses in the UNC System, including the admission of athletes who do not meet normal academic standards. The report says those students need to be tracked, and teams who aren't graduating the students need to be granted fewer exceptions.

The report also holds coaches responsible for making sure the athletes are successful academically and suggests coaching contracts should reflect the academic mission. Further, the report talks about tutor issues – suggesting schools not hire "fans" who just want to get close to the athletes.

The report says, “The task force reviewed several effective practices at UNC institutions as well as other institutions with reputations for high quality in both athletic programs and student-athlete support programs.”

The report focused on all UNC System institutions, but the timing of the review comes on the heels of widely publicized academic impropriety accusations at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

The NCAA says a tutor there gave improper help to student athletes, including former football player Michael McAdoo.

McAdoo has sued the NCAA and the campus to get back on the football team. An initial hearing on his suit in July saw his request denied.

As part of the lawsuit, one of McAdoo’s papers was made public, and the media found parts had been plagiarized. During the hearing, Paul Sun, a lawyer for the NCAA said, “Mr. McAdoo committed academic fraud. He is a cheater. That is what happened here.” Sun went on to openly discredit student-based Honor Courts during the hearing.

The Task Force on Athletics and Academics report makes it clear that there needs to be oversight on academic issues outside the athletics department.

In fact, the group would like to see each campus do an academic integrity review and would also like for each campus to update the Board of Governors annually on how its athletes are doing academically.