MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
October 31, 2011
VII. REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES, SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES.
A. Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Athletics.
Professor Ortiz (committee chair) said her committee’s report should have been presented at a Council meeting during the past spring semester but had been delayed due to continuing full agendas. She recognized the work of members of the committee and thanked them for their interest and productivity. The committee’s report posted in advance of the meeting on the Faculty Council website is attached in Appendix A; to avoid redundancy, only additional information beyond what is included in the posted report will be included in the narrative of the minutes.
Professor Ortiz said UT Austin’s student athletes did not receive the recognition they deserved for their academic performance and community service. The female athletes have consistently had strong grade point averages (GPAs) while the male athletes have shown recent improvement. The majority of teams or squads had average GPAs at the 3.0 level or higher, with the exceptions being the men’s track and football teams and the women’s softball team. The committee found a dispersion of majors among the athletes rather than a concentration within particular colleges/schools. There were somewhat higher numbers in the College of Education, especially within the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, because many student athletes indicated their career plans involved teaching and coaching.
She said the committee was concerned about UT Austin’s graduation rate of 62% for athletes when compared to the rates at peer institutions because eight of the eleven peer institutions had higher rates. The NCAA’s graduation success rate provides a fair view of the graduation rates for student athletes because transfers from other institutions and departures in good standing do not adversely influence the rate. Although this rate was 87% for UT Austin’s female students athletes, the male rate was only 56%. This rate was low enough that the ad hoc committee wanted the newly formed Student Life and Activities Committee to focus its attention on this issue when it assumes the ad hoc committee’s responsibilities in the future. In general, the ad hoc committee wanted the new committee to recommend ways to improve graduation rates, which might involve recruitment approaches, as well as paying closer attention to the students who are struggling in their efforts to meet their roles of students and athletes.
With regard to financial matters, the committee report indicated the athletics department was making valuable financial contributions to the University, totaling $13.3 million. President Powers told the committee that he decided how the contributions from the athletics department were allocated to academic programs and other initiatives. Professor Ortiz said the financial area was an important one for the new committee to continue to track, especially since the ad hoc committee had found it difficult to determine how much funding is actually given to academic programs as opposed to other related units, such as the UT police and student housing. In addition, she thought there was a need to more fully understand the nature of these contributions and the sources of athletic revenue. The future agenda of the new committee will need to continue to track and monitor progress is the following areas: 1) academic progress of student athletes; 2) implementation of the athletics department’s staff diversity plan; and 3) financial contributions to academic programs, related departments and service units, and other university initiatives. To facilitate continuity during the transitional period from the ad hoc to the standing committee, Professor Ortiz said several members of the ad hoc committee were now members of the Student Life and Activities Committee and would continue work toward providing an updated report.