After remaining quiet since the initial accusations made by Mary Willingham on UNC athletics and their academics, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt sent a message out to the UNC community earlier today.
Dear Carolina Community:
I am writing today to provide my perspective on a topic that has been reported in the media recently, and more importantly, is of great concern to our community: what we are doing to ensure the integrity of our support for student-athletes and their success from admission to graduation. Carolina’s recent academic and athletic improprieties shook our University to its core. In spite of seven investigations (http://rawlingspanel.web.unc.edu/related-links/) and numerous reforms already in place, this continues to be a painful journey for the Carolina community, and I will not ignore the lessons learned.
Even as we continue this work, Carolina is facing a surge of new stories in the national and local media about the academic preparation of our student-athletes. This interest was sparked in part by highly publicized claims about student literacy, and continues in the media almost daily. I take these claims very seriously, but we have been unable to reconcile these claims with either our own facts or with those data currently being cited as the source for the claims. Moreover, the data presented in the media does not match up with those data gathered by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. For example, only two of the 321 student-athletes admitted in 2012 and 2013 fell below the SAT and ACT levels that were cited in a recent CNN report as the threshold for reading levels for first-year students. And those two students are in good academic standing. Nevertheless, we are investigating all the claims being made and, if they are found to have merit, I will take all appropriate actions. We also will do our best to correct assertions we believe are not based in fact.
This issue is part of a larger national conversation about the role and impact of college sports and even further about the commitment schools make to ensure their students receive the support they need to succeed in the classroom as well as on the playing field. I assure you that I will not accept anything less than the excellence we expect Carolina to represent for our students and the community.
I am asking for your patience and understanding today. I still have many questions, and I am seeking to understand the complete picture of what additional work we need to do in this area. We have learned many lessons in the past few years, and I am actively building on those lessons to continue to improve our community. It is our responsibility to address these issues, the people involved, and the media attention being generated by them, very thoughtfully and thoroughly. Our goals are to be proactive in our analysis and solutions, to protect the privacy rights of individual students, and to apply the rigorous standards of assessment expected here at Carolina. Whether we agree or disagree, we must welcome healthy debate, respect each other and in that way show the true character of our Carolina community.
In closing, I want to thank you for your commitment to and concern for our students, faculty and staff, and for making this great institution even stronger. I will keep you informed of our progress and the results of our work. Our impressive, dedicated and talented students from the classroom to the playing field – and the work of our faculty and staff to improve the lives of millions of North Carolinians – is what makes us so proud of Carolina every day.
Carol L. Folt