Sam Magill: Make freshmen ineligible

May 1, 2013 

Ineligible freshmen

Jim Jenkins’ April 25 column “Leaders must tackle runaway sports” dealing with the problems of big-time athletics at North Carolina was right on target.

I write as a former college president, member of the NCAA President’s Commission and, not least, a longtime Tar Heels fan and one-time varsity letter winner.

The responsibility for maintaining accountability and integrity in the athletic program must lie ultimately with the chancellor. While the faculty has a legitimate concern, it is not in a position to act decisively on the runaway train of college football and basketball. Some will recall the decisive action of Chancellor William Aycock in dismissing Frank McGuire as basketball coach in the early 1960s as an example of strong, principled leadership. Too bad there are so few like Aycock and Bill Friday today.

I would add this note to Jenkins’ comments: All freshman athletes should be required to meet the same academic standards as all other students. Those who cannot read adequately, speak intelligently and handle math problems should not be allowed to compete. The revival of freshman ineligibility might be the key to solving many of the problems faced at Carolina and other major sports programs.

Sam Magill

Chapel Hill

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