January 14, 2011
Dear Faculty colleagues:
I’m writing to give you an update on the NCAA investigation of our football program. I have shared regular updates with the Faculty Council, but I wanted to let all faculty know where we stand on these issues.
First, I want to thank you for your support during what has been a tough time for the University. I don’t think that any of us ever expected Carolina to be in this situation, and I’m sorry that football took public attention away from your outstanding work in research, teaching and service.
We pledged that we would go where the facts took us, that we would find out how this happened, and that we would do everything we could to figure out how to keep it from happening again. In crises like this, it is tempting to come up with a quick fix, but it is almost always better to endure the speculation while the facts are gathered.
All along, my chief concern has been protecting the University’s academic integrity. I know that’s also your primary concern. While we took the agent violations seriously, it’s our nature as faculty members to focus on academic misconduct.
I don’t yet know when or how the NCAA will ultimately rule. But I do know that we have worked hard to get all of the facts, to cooperate fully with the NCAA, to do everything we could to avoid playing a potentially ineligible student in a game, and to treat our student-athletes fairly. I think that our instincts have been on target. A number of the students who had academic issues were referred to the campus honor court where they were treated as any other student would be. Faculty members were consulted as appropriate.
It would be impossible to meet this challenge without the involvement of our faculty. Our internal review committee included two faculty members who have played vital roles in the investigation and helped guide our response – Lissa Broome, law professor and our faculty athletics representative, and Jack Evans, former faculty athletics representative and one of the foremost faculty leaders in intercollegiate athletics. We have also consulted with three faculty committees throughout – the Faculty Athletics Committee, the Faculty Executive Committee and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee.
We have benefited greatly from the involvement of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp and the Office of University Counsel, including Leslie Strohm, Joanna Carey Cleveland and Steve Keadey.
We are fortunate to have Dick Baddour as our athletic director, especially in a time like this. The breadth of his experience at Carolina and the commitment he and his staff have to our academic integrity have been indispensable.
Our review committee, in partnership with the NCAA, has conducted more than 60 interviews of students on the football team, coaches, athletic department staff, academic support staff and others. The NCAA has been to campus seven times. The secretary of state’s office was here twice as part of its investigation into agents.
As we have said, we have found no information that Coach Davis was involved in any of the problems that surfaced. Nonetheless he feels a burden of responsibility for the situation, as do Dick Baddour and I. The three of us have met regularly to review the facts and to talk about the future. Coach Davis, Dick Baddour and I have all been in agreement about the investigation and our response to the NCAA. I truly value that collaboration.
In the late fall, we launched a review of our Academic Support Program. Arts and Sciences Senior Associate Dean Bobbi Owen and Senior Associate Athletic Director John Blanchard are leading that review, and it’s well under way. They’re looking at the structure, policies and procedures of the academic support program, along with a focus on the tutoring and academic mentoring services. While we have not found evidence of academic misconduct outside of the incidents that have been reported, we remain committed to strengthening the programs to reduce the chance that these events will happen again.
College athletics present some of the most vexing challenges facing American public higher education. It is a privilege for students to represent their university in athletics. Athletic events and broadcasts provide an opportunity to build awareness of the university that cannot be realized through any other means. But the pressures to succeed on all fronts are high, and the incentives and rewards are sometimes out of balance. The events of this year around the country have increased the engagement of my national colleagues in these topics, and that is a hopeful sign.
During the course of this investigation, I have gotten to know many of the members of the football team, including those who were part of the investigation and those who weren’t. Our primary commitment is to the welfare of these young people. They are our students.
We will continue to focus our efforts on further enhancing the academic and personal success of our 800 student-athletes in all 28 sports.
I will continue to update you. In the meantime, best wishes for a great semester.