Faculty Senate talks athletics,
By Matt Kelly
Director of Athletics Craig
K. Littlepage assured the Faculty Senate Jan. 20 that he was moving
his department toward a 100 percent graduation rate for athletes
who complete their eligibility at U.Va.
Littlepage also said the athletic department wants to win championships,
increase its endowment, build the highest-quality facilities,
improve recruitment and meet all gender-equity requirements.
U.Va. student-athletes posted an 82 percent graduation rate in
the recent National Collegiate Athletic Association survey, compared
to the national average of 63 percent. Littlepage cautioned the
faculty that the U.Va. rate was deceptive because the NCAA graduation
rates are based solely on students who matriculate at a university,
receive some form of grant or aid, remain for their entire four
years at the same university and then graduate. Thus, athletes
who start at U.Va., transfer to other schools in good academic
standing and graduate from those institutions are counted as non-graduates
in U.Va.’s graduation numbers.
“That other 18 percent are not academic casualties,”
he said, adding that only 1 to 2 percent of entering student-athletes
failed to graduate from somewhere.
230 of the University’s 650 athletes are on the Atlantic
Coast Conference Honor Roll, which requires a grade-point average
of 3.0 or above — an accomplishment that is second only
to Duke University. Littlepage wants to increase the number of
Virginia athletes on the honor roll to 40 or 50 percent of all
Recent highly publicized incidents have made for a difficult time
for sports on the national stage, Littlepage said, with some coaches
and administrators getting caught up in “unfortunate activities.”
Athletic departments were being held accountable, which is a good
thing, he said, because athletic departments must articulate the
values of their universities.
“We must operate with integrity,” he said.
Littlepage called for more focus on how sports contribute to the
mission of the University. Individual divisions of the University
cannot be successful by themselves, he stressed. They are all
part of one University, with mutually beneficial goals.
University President John T. Casteen III reminded faculty members
that the Athletic Department’s Virginia 2020 task force
proposed de-emphasizing some lower-profile sports. The Board of
Visitors rejected that proposal, Casteen said, and called for
full funding of scholarships for all 25 varsity teams (12 for
men and 13 for women).
Casteen said many sports donors become academic donors, though
very few go from sports to academics and back again.
The Faculty Senate also heard a report from Casteen on the agenda
of the General Assembly, currently in session in Richmond. He
described the budget situation as very fluid, with most of the
education emphasis focused on primary and secondary schools. He
said there were several bills being introduced that could affect
higher education, but what is proposed now may never be acted
“It can all turn around and bills can disappear,”
In other business before the Faculty Senate, University Librarian
Karin Wittenborg and Diane H. Walker, associate University librarian
for user services, discussed reduced acquisitions due to budget
cuts. Walker said while the collections budget, which absorbed
an 8 percent cut last year, held steady this year, the price of
publications and books was increasing, so the library’s
buying power has decreased. In some cases where there are electronic
and paper editions of the same journal, the library has opted
to subscribe to the electronic edition.
Private funding of library acquisitions has increased from 9 percent
in 2000 to 14 percent in 2003, Wittenborg said.
The Senate also approved a merger of the existing graduate program
in the history of art and the existing Ph.D. program in architectural
history to form a joint graduate program in the history of art
and architecture. This proposal still has to be approved by the
Board of Visitors.