To give credit where its due, Chancellor Holden Thorp of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has made some positive if belated changes in the academic support structure that surrounds the universitys athletes. Its true, of course, that these changes came after (and during) multiple investigations going back to a football scandal and subsequent punishments from the NCAA, and after evidence of academic fraud related to the apparent connections between athletes, their counselors and the Department of African and Afro-American Studies came to light.
Nevertheless, Thorp has at last cut the chain-of-command connection that existed between the academic support program and the Department of Athletics. Those who run the sports-entertainment extravaganzas have no business getting involved in the academic supervision of the stars of the show, who are supposed to be students first. And some other oversight improvements have been made, all of them good.
But a more constructive goal out of these painful and damaging revelations would be to completely overhaul this system of academic counseling and guidance for athletes. Overhaul, as in putting an end to it.
If this university really believes in the Carolina Way, really stands behind the conviction that all athletes should be qualified students capable of achieving an academic degree and not just gladiators in the minor leagues for professional sports, then let them be part of the regular student body, which, by the way, has access to academic counseling and tutors and other support features. Making athletes part of some separate academic setup isolates them and does them no favor. And if that means the university cant compete for those stars who want to be one and done, so be it.