SBD/July 25, 2014/Colleges

UNC Unveils "Complete Carolina" Program To Help Former Student-Athletes Get Degrees

Scholarships will be funded by the Rams Club and UNC's athletic department
The Univ. of North Carolina announced a new program Thursday called "Complete Carolina" that will "give scholarships and counseling to help former athletes finish their degrees," according to a front-page piece by Jane Stancill of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said that the school has "always encouraged athletes who left school early to earn their degrees eventually." She added that the new program is a way to "formalize that and put new resources into it." Stancill notes scholarships will be "funded by" the Rams Club booster organization and other expenses will be "covered by the athletic department." Meanwhile, Indiana Univ. last month announced a bill of rights for athletes, including a "lifetime guarantee of free tuition." Seeking to "save the amateur model of collegiate athletics, presidents in the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences have signed letters arguing for four-year scholarship guarantees, educational trust funds and medical benefits" for student-athletes. UNC AD Bubba Cunningham said, “Part of the national discussion is: What do we provide for students? We provide them an education. That’s what the collegiate model is. So we want to fulfill that obligation for all of our students.” Stancill notes it is "not unusual for universities to extend help to athletes who want to get their diplomas after their eligibility has expired." But generally, universities "don't have formal programs or guarantees." The "Complete Carolina" program will "start accepting applications Sept. 1." Former athletes who left the university in "good academic standing will be able to resume their scholarship at comparable support, including tuition, fees, room, board and books" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 7/25).

UNPAVED ROADS: UNC Senior Associate AD/Communications Steve Kirschner said that some former scholarship athletes have "returned and paid their own way, while others have been able to access financial support as athletic budgets have allowed." In Durham, Laura Oleniacz notes the school is "broadening that commitment to scholarship athletes." Kirschner: "It’s a commitment to doing it across the board, and a commitment to educate students while they’re here that this is something they can do if for some reason, they have to leave before they get their degrees.” Cunningham said that UNC officials plan to "actively recruit former-student-athletes to return" (Durham HERALD-SUN, 7/25).
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