UNC panel offers athletics changes
by Steve Berkowitz and Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY Sports
A committee appointed by the University of North Carolina to find ways its scandal-scarred sports program can improve submitted a series of recommendations Tuesday that included considering making specially admitted athletes ineligible for a year, increasing the transparency of the athletics department’s financial data and developing a mandatory education program for coaches.
However, as it was asked to do by then-UNC chancellor Holden Thorp, the committee also made a series of suggestions for broader national consideration that included conferences and/or the NCAA establishing “spending caps on specific sports for all team operating expenses,” as well as a cap on the subsidies that schools provide their athletics programs.
The special panel was chaired by Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities – an invitation-only organization of 62 top research universities of which North Carolina is a member. Rawlings previously has served as the president of Cornell and the University of Iowa.
However, the five-member committee also included Big Ten Conference commissioner Jim Delany, a former UNC basketball player whose signature on the report gives it greater relevance in the ongoing national debate about the future shape of big-time college athletics.
“There are lots of reports across the country, and we don’t see a lot of reform,” Rawlings said during a teleconference. “We think it’s crucial that universities now take this as a very high priority. Our panel believes we’re reaching a tipping point in intercollegiate athletics. There’s so much revenue pouring into intercollegiate athletics and the budgets for academic programs have been so tight in the past few years that it’s out of balance.
“The balance between athletics and academics is now perilously close to going over to a tipping point where I think the trend is just not sustainable. … You see results, of university presidents losing their jobs over intercollegiate athletics issues. Everyone is now cognizant that something needs to be done in order to restore some more balance. … We would like to see conferences take up these questions.”
Delany echoed those sentiments, saying: “The NCAA is an organization that needs to reinvent itself … so that these vexing … [For more on UNC panel offers athletics admissions, finance changes, click here.]