by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
Ten years ago, UNC-Chapel Hill coach Dean Smith addressed the Knight Commission on the subject of freshmen student-athletes and academics. Smith urged setting athletics aside for academics as freshmen acclimate:
With graduation rates and the academic achievement level of men’s basketball players continuing to lag, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics heard testimony from the sport’s winningest coach Monday, calling for the NCAA to make freshman players ineligible.
Former North Carolina coach Dean Smith said such a scenario would help freshmen become better acclimated to college life and get them on the road toward earning degrees.
“What you’re developing there is they become a part of the student body,” said Smith, who has long advocated freshmen sit out their first year. “That’s why they’re there. They’re students first.”
Today, UNC President Tom Ross spoke to the Knight Commission on the subject of freshmen student-athletes and academics. Here is what he proposed:
University of North Carolina President Tom Ross says easing the transition to college for student-athletes could help improve their academic performance.
Ross spoke this week with the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, an independent panel that has worked for two decades to reform college sports. He said lightening the course work for first-year student-athletes – and extending their scholarships to give them more time to graduate – could help them better balance the competing demands of academics and athletics and make them more successful in school.
In other words, Ross urged setting some academics aside for athletics as freshmen acclimate. His comments appear to continue making athletics priority no. 1, which would be the same attitude that, at its worst, led notorious scandals at UNC-CH of academic fraud and allegations of some athletes being barely literate.