Skip to content

University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Panel discussion to focus on role of athletics

Last summer, Chancellor Holden Thorp said he would follow through with a key recommendation of a Faculty Executive Committee report: to examine the role of athletics in the life of the University.

He asked Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities, to lead a panel of leaders in higher education and athletics this spring. That group will meet for the first time on April 19, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Carolina Inn’s Hill Ballroom South.

A former university president and successful student-athlete, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Rawlings spoke on campus last fall about the future of research universities (see

Joining Rawlings on the panel are:

Thorp said he would address the panel, and he has invited several speakers to participate in a roundtable discussion.

Those include Jay Bilas, ESPN broadcaster, attorney and a former Duke basketball player; Bubba Cunningham, director of athletics at Carolina; Joy Renner, Faculty Athletics Committee chair and clinical associate professor of allied health sciences; Jay Smith, professor and associate chair of history; and Richard Southall, associate professor of sport administration and director of the College Sport Research Institute.

The campus community will also have an opportunity to share comments.

“This is a chance to hold the conversation the faculty have requested,” Thorp said. “I don’t expect this panel to solve in a short time what the Knight Commission has been addressing for more than 20 years. But this is a good opportunity to engage in a conversation that will lead to recommendations for best practices moving forward.

“The issues we face here are not unique to Carolina, and we hope other campuses around the nation benefit from the panel’s work.”

Rawlings and the panelists will decide how to proceed after the April 19 discussion.