Can somebody explain to me “recruiting” in Division 1 intercollegiate sports?  Recently, high school athletes announced the schools that they plan to attend and the teams they will join next year.  Concerns have been raised about the quality of the football skills of the class of players who have declared their intention to enroll at UNC.  After all, we had heard that the new head coach is a “great recruiter.”  While he himself was being “recruited,” he was asked about his experience as a “recruiter.”  Some have suggested the cumbersome NCAA investigation and the possibility of sanctions against the UNC football program have created disincentives to attend UNC, in spite of active “recruitment.”

UNC has become a great university because it attracts applicants to the quality of the “research, scholarship and creativity” at the heart of its mission, not because faculty and staff are wandering the country to meet with individual students.  My colleagues in public health or computer science or philosophy don’t spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours traveling around the country to meet with the best and the brightest applicants, to “recruit” them to come to UNC.  Even prestigious programs like the Morehead-Cain and Robertson scholars programs, with their considerable resources, do not engage in this type of expensive and labor-intensive recruiting.  Guidance counselors and teachers, parents and community leaders, know that UNC provides exceptional educational opportunities and they advise students accordingly.

Surely, 80 qualified football players or 20 qualified basketball players would enroll in our fine university each year without the expensive and harmful distortions in priorities that result from “recruiting” 18 year olds.  After all, we manage to enroll outstanding linguists, mathematicians, chemistry students, and voice majors to name just a few, in each new cohort of Tar Heels.