There are a lot of us folks who applaud the Chancellor for putting institution above any sport.
I am a season ticket holder and a twenty-five year Ram but I do not want to see Carolina become a football factory. Our b-ball program makes it clear that excellence and graduating the kids can go together.
Recently the University announced that once again, for the tenth time, UNC was ranked as the 5th best public university (2011 “Americas Best Colleges,” usnews.com). Another USNews publication “Great Schools, Great Prices” ranks UNC as 1st among public universities; the sixth year UNC has held that ranking. Those rankings are just a sampling.
In football, the ACC ranks first among all conferences in graduation rates (Birmingham News). On a broader scale, UNC is tied with Penn State for 4th highest among all major football universities. That’s a full twenty points ahead of BYU, Alabama, Southern Cal, and LSU who graduate about half their players. Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma are below 50%.
Obviously the schools with poor graduation rates for football can still be great universities as I’m sure they would assert. The obvious implication is that they have somehow segmented their academic side from their major sports programs. There are lots of questions, but one is; does Carolina want to give up any pretense of the “student athlete?”
Perhaps the broader question for the “Carolina Nation” may be; looking just at graduation rates as one barometer, is it possible to achieve a top twenty program, which we all would applaud, without condemning up to half of our football players to an unfinished degree and, short of the NFL, artificially limited career prospects? To be a Texas, or an LSU, are we willing to essentially exploit kids who are big and fast for their entertainment value, knowing full well most of them will not find a place in the NFL?
Chancellor Thorp has said no. He has placed institution above sport and I applaud his decision. I like what I see and hear in Coach Withers and I look forward to a great year of college football in Chapel Hill.
David Wynne ‘71
Virginia Beach, Va.