Larry Fedora, in an effort to "bridge the gap between academics and athletics," has instituted a day where players can invite their professors to football practice.
Fedora said the crowd of professors who came to practice on Wednesday was the largest yet. Kareem Martin, a senior defensive end, said he invited one of his policy professors from a 600-level class. The professor couldn’t make it, though, Martin said.
Even so, Martin said the event allows professors to better understand their daily schedule, and the demands of practice.
"They only know us from the classroom, and I guess what they see on Saturday," Martin said. "So they don’t see all the hard work that we put in. It’s hard being a student-athlete – all the hours that we put in on the field and the practice fields, and in the classroom and study hall, and all.
"So it gives them a chance to see how hard we really work."
Fedora said the professors would receive a post-practice tour of the Loudermilk Center, which houses UNC’s athletic academic support department. While professors received that tour, Fedora said the players would shower and then meet their professors for dinner in the team dining hall.
As noted in the article, this sort of thing is great to see given what has happened at UNC over the past three years. Not that this is necessarily a response to those issues. This was something Fedora did at Southern Miss which means it is part of the way he runs his program. It just so happens it fits in with the ongoing battle to address academic issues within the football program.
Having professors see what football players do in practice, understanding the demands and getting a feel for how the program works in general can only help the relationship between the two parties. It also serves to foster communication between the coaching staff and the professors. Establishing some kind of rapport should make professors reaching out to the coaches or vice-versa much easier if there is an issue with a player's academics.
For once it is nice to see some positive news come out about academics and athletics at UNC.