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SACS Puts North Carolina on Probation; What Does That Mean?

Posted on Jun 11, 2015 by


The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has placed the University of North Carolina on year-long probation.

Zero Dark Thurs

SACS, the accreditation agency for the university, claimed that North Carolina failed to comply with the agency by displaying a lack of “institutional integrity” and “control of athletics.”

So, what does this mean?

From the SACS website, this is how the agency defines “probation”:

“Failure to correct deficiencies or failure to make satisfactory progress toward compliance with the Principles of Accreditation, whether or not the institution is already on Warning, may result in the institution being placed on Probation. An institution may be placed on Probation for the same reasons as discussed above regarding Warning if the Commission’s Board of Trustees deems noncompliance with the Principles to be serious enough to merit invoking Probation whether or not the institution is or has been on Warning. Probation is a more serious sanction than Warning and is usually, but not necessarily, invoked as the last step before an institution is removed from membership. Probation may be imposed upon initial institutional review, depending on the judgment of the Board regarding the seriousness of noncompliance or in the case of repeated violations recognized by the Board over a period of time. An institution must be placed on Probation when it is continued in membership for Good Cause beyond the maximum two-year monitoring period (see section on “Good Cause” below). The maximum consecutive time that an institution may be on Probation is two years.”

Probation is the last sanction given before SACS removes a school from its membership. I look at it as North Carolina losing its last life on Super Mario: It’s still alive, but it has to be especially careful in the next year.

North Carolina must also display “Good Cause” to not be removed from membership. The board was “complimentary” of the work done by chancellor Carol Folt in the wake of the academic scandal, but feels that there is more work to be done to clean up the mess in Chapel Hill.

The university should be happy that it didn’t lose accreditation, but probation is still a serious sanction. It will be interesting to see what further changes are made in the next 12 months, and if those changes will be enough for North Carolina to retain membership.

There’s one giant obstacle standing in the way, though:

…Like I said, the next 12 months should be really interesting.

Information courtesy of Derek Rowles of ABC11 (@DerekRowles). Probation quote pulled from SACS policy statement on Sanctions, Denial of Reaffirmation, and Removal of Membership. Images courtesy of Elliott Rubin/Creative Commons.

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