Thursday, August 12, 2010

Policy aims to keep N.C. State athletes in class

N.C. State moved forward with plans to begin a new policy to make sure "at-risk" athletes are attending class and to discipline them when they don't.

Members of the university athletic council’s academic committee agreed on Thursday morning to send a draft of a temporary plan for the fall semester to school administrators for approval and immediate implementation.

During the fall, the council will work on a permanent policy to begin in the spring semester. The temporary policy could become permanent if administrators believe it is effective. Previously, individual coaches were allowed to create their own policies for athletes who missed class.

The new plan will identify athletes who are “at risk” academically according to three criteria:

- Those who have a cumulative grade-point average below 2.2.

- New students who were accepted into school as "special admittance" exceptions.

- Others who are placed in the group because of excessive absences or academic underperformance.

Carrie Leger, who directs N.C. State's academic support program for athletes, estimates that about 80 of the school's 550 athletes will fall into one of the three categories. State athletic director Debbie Yow has approved $22,000 to pay a graduate assistant to oversee the daily attendance reports, as well as monitors who will meet with at-risk athletes outside their classrooms before each class to confirm their attendance.

>After the first unexcused absence, an e-mail will be sent to the athletes, their coaches and parents, reminding them of the policy. A second unexcused absence would result in a warning that the next time they miss class without an excuse, they will be suspended for their team’s next scheduled competition.

A third unexcused absence would result in the one-game suspension. Athletes who miss class unexcused for a fourth time will be suspended from 10 percent of their playing season. The staff will "round up " when calculating the 10 percent; for example, a football player missing 10 percent of a 12-game season will miss two games.

The policy grew out of a concern over N.C. State’s low percentage of athletes who are graduating. The school's athletes' four-class average federal graduation rate of 54 percent in 2009 ranked 12th in the ACC. The student body's overall four-class graduation rate of 70 percent also ranked 12th, and N.C. State chancellor Randy Woodson and others at the school are eager to improve both numbers.

Ken Tysiac