RALEIGH (January 25, 2024) – As college athletic conferences expand and contract like accordions, the UNC Board of Governors is moving to insert itself in the process.
A committee of the board that oversees all 17 UNC campuses approved a policy Wednesday – to be considered by the full board in February – that would give the UNC System President and the Board of Governors power to veto conference switches.
The proposed policy would require UNC institutions to submit an annual report to UNC President Peter Hans that includes information on contracts, including grant of rights agreements for network broadcasts and name, image and likeness (NIL) contracts.
The proposal would also require chancellors at UNC System campuses to provide the System President with a financial plan for any move to transfer, leave or join an athletic conference. If the President approves the plan, he or she can forward it to the Board of Governors for review.
The Board of Governors can, but isn’t required to, weigh in with an up-or-down vote under the proposal. If the Board disapproves the plan, the university cannot switch conferences until the chancellor submits a plan approved by the President and the Board.1
AMID DRAMATIC realignment of athletic conferences nationwide – including the additions of Stanford, California and Southern Methodist University to the Atlantic Coast Conference – the move has fueled speculation that the Board of Governors would not allow UNC-Chapel Hill to leave the ACC for another conference unless NC State is included in the move.2
It is also part of a broader move to centralize campus decisions in the UNC System Office in Raleigh.
In a committee meeting Wednesday, UNC System General Counsel Andrew Tripp said that a financial plan can be broader than costs alone. He also said that university boards in California, Colorado, Utah, Kansas and Texas have acted to approve conference switches.
Any action by the Board of Governors to approve such a move would likely take place in open session, Tripp said.
“This is all about financial implications, and not whether you like one team more than another,” said Governance Committee Chair Kellie Hunt Blue.
The UNC System waived requirements for applicants to take the SAT or ACT during the coronavirus pandemic due to restrictions on public gatherings.
But the Board’s Education Planning Committee heard from Dr. Nathan Kuncel, a Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology at the University of Minnesota, that due to grade inflation in high schools, standardized tests are now better at indicating a student’s future success.
“Tests are now the better predictor,” Kuncel said. After studies at Brown, MIT, and the University of California System, “We see tests highly correlated with advanced coursework.”
But some board members still expressed reservations about standardized tests. Gene Davis said that even though he tested better than his sister, she earned a 3.9 grade-point average at UNC Chapel Hill and a 4.0 in a Vanderbilt graduate program.
“Nobody outworked her,” Davis said.
FOUNDATIONS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Sadly, Americans don’t know squat about democracy.
Since 1998, scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) civics exam have found that less than 25% of students are proficient in the topic.3
But a working group of both faculty and administrators from the UNC System has developed a plan to include instruction in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
“We believe that universities have a special purpose as a training ground for democracy,” Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs David English told the board’s Education Planning Committee.
The guidelines would allow the readings to be incorporated across a broad range of disciplines without increasing the time needed to complete a degree.
“You can address the Constitution and the Civil Rights Movement in a course on philosophy, on ethics, on history, law, political communication, or social movements,” System President Peter Hans told the Board. “There are so many fantastic ways to approach these documents and concepts, and I’m excited to see the many ways our faculty will choose to engage students.”
While he expects criticism, “As I’ve said many times, a state that argues about the direction of higher education is exactly what we should want,” Hans said. “Now if we could just figure out how to refresh adults’ understanding of these matters as well…”
The requirements are to be brought to the Education Planning Committee in February, with a vote by the full Board in April. They would apply to students who enter in fall 2025.4
1 https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/bog/doc.php?id=67762&code=bog, pp. 12-14.
3 https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/bog/doc.php?id=67766&code=bog, p. 40.
4 https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/bog/doc.php?id=67766&code=bog, pp. 40-54.