College Sports

Ahead for UNC: Scrutiny by its accrediting body

The NCAA Notice of Allegations isn’t the last step in UNC-Chapel Hill’s path of answering for the athletic and academic scandal that has dragged on for years.

Next week, an academic accrediting body will consider the UNC case and decide whether to impose sanctions. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges will take up the UNC issue at its board meeting in Portsmouth, Va., next Thursday.

Last November, after the university’s release of the Wainstein Report that detailed the length and breadth of the scandal, SACS informed UNC that it had concerns about the university’s compliance with 18 separate accreditation standards. Those standards include institutional integrity, control of athletics and policies on admissions and academics.

It’s highly unusual for a top research university to be slapped with a sanction by an academic accrediting body. But it has happened before, and the commission’s board will have a range of options if it decides to punish UNC.

Warning, the least serious sanction, would give the university time to correct deficiencies. Probation, a heavier sanction, could be brought if noncompliance is serious enough or if an institution fails to correct deficiencies. UNC has implemented some 70 reforms and policy changes that it says would prevent a similar scandal.

The worst possible sanction is removal of accreditation, which would bar an institution from receiving federal funds. Loss of accreditation is essentially the death knell for a college, though most believe that would be unlikely for an institution such as UNC.

Other actions still in the works:

▪ The university has recently formed two working groups. One, a Policy and Procedures Working Group, will oversee a campuswide audit to improve compliance and recommend policy changes. That panel is expected to give Chancellor Carol Folt a preliminary report by Oct. 15 and a full report by the end of the year. Another committee, an Ethics and Integrity Working Group, will look for ways to reinforce ethical behavior at the university. It will examine both campus culture and practices.

▪ Several employees may still face disciplinary action by the university. At the time of the Wainstein Report last fall, Folt said UNC had initiated termination or disciplinary review against nine employees. So far, the university has only released information pertaining to four former employees, who either resigned or were fired. The other employees’ cases have not been resolved, a UNC spokesman said Tuesday.

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Who will represent the UNC faculty on athletics matters?

On June 30, Lissa Broome’s five-year term as UNC’s faculty athletics representative comes to an end. Folt will have to decide whether to reappoint the law professor, and the university has been seeking input from faculty. Broome, in a recent report to faculty, said she wanted to stay in the job despite a term filled with tumult.

“I believe I was able to provide sound advice and counsel to the Chancellor and the Athletics Director during this turbulent time and a sense of continuity during transitions in leadership,” she wrote.

The position exists to help ensure academic integrity and compliance with NCAA regulations.

– Staff writer Dan Kane