The University of North Carolina’s academic support program for student-athletes needs to increase its staff, hire a full-time tutor coordinator and have continued involvement in the admissions process, according to a UNC report released Thursday to reporters.
UNC’s committee to study the academic support program began meeting after the actions of a student tutor and mentor led to NCAA allegations of major violations in an investigation of impermissible benefits and academic fraud in the Tar Heels football program.
Many recommendations in the report have been discussed previously by UNC officials. The report suggested that the school hire a full-time tutor coordinator to oversee hiring, training, supervising and evaluating tutors.
UNC athletic director Dick Baddour said the school has the funds for a tutor coordinator position and for a learning specialist position.
“When we were putting the budget together in the spring ... we budgeted a couple positions so we would have the resources to do that,” Baddour said.
In addition, the report said that academic mentors, who assist athletes with the development of study and time management skills, should be graduate students, part-time staff members, or others such as retired faculty members. The current program relies primarily on undergraduate students studying education as a major.
The report also suggested that tutors should be people with relevant experience, such as graduate students, retired university faculty and public school teachers, who would undergo consistent professional development.
UNC’s academic support program came under scrutiny after an NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits from agents also uncovered improper academic assistance provided by Jennifer Wiley. She was an undergraduate student who also worked for former Tar Heels football coach Butch Davis as a tutor for his son.
Senior associate athletic director John Blanchard and College of Arts and Sciences senior associate dean Bobbi Owen led the strategic planning process in the wake of the investigation.
The committee’s report calls upon the academic support program to:
• Collaborate with other units providing academic support at UNC.
• Revitalize the faculty advisory committee.
• Conduct annual assessments of the program.
• Develop a vision shared by staff, coaches, administrators and athletes.
The report also calls for the academic support program to continue providing advice about the ability of prospective recruits to succeed academically at UNC.
Baddour said he welcomed the report.
“I was one who said we have to get better at everything,” Baddour said. “I think this report is terrific, and we’re already well under way to meeting the recommendations.”