Student-Athlete Development and Well-being

The Department of Athletics provides a variety of services that support the development and well-being of Carolina’s 800+ student-athletes, including mental health services, sexual assault education and prevention, life skills, personal development, leadership skills and career services.

The Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group identified and compiled recommendations from reports over the past several years and linked each report recommendation to 21 academic processes. Report Recommendations for Student-Athlete Development

18.0 Student-Athlete Development and Well-being

The Department of Athletics provides a variety of services that support the development and well-being of Carolina’s 800+ student-athletes, including mental health services, sexual assault education and prevention, life skills, personal development, leadership skills and career services.

18.1 Student-Athlete Development

The Student-Athlete Development office, in the Department of Athletics, provides numerous student development opportunities for student-athletes, including the award-winning Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy.

18.1.1 Life skills and personal development

Beginning with New Student Orientation (see Process 4.0 Orientation) and continuing throughout a student-athlete’s career at Carolina, Student-Athlete Development offers a wide range of seminars and educational opportunities including sexual assault awareness and education; financial planning; alcohol education; and campus resources. Student-Athlete Development provides recommendations to student-athletes on a broad array of topics in the “Tar Heel Life Skills” matrix, encouraging them to avail themselves to available campus resources and learning opportunities.

18.1.2 Leadership Academy

The Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy (BCLA) provides leadership education and development to help student-athletes succeed at Carolina and to prepare them for leadership roles in their lives after college. This comprehensive developmental leadership program is supplemental to the leadership development that coaches provide to their student-athletes on a daily basis.

The Leadership Academy is both comprehensive in scope and substantive in depth. Structurally, the Leadership Academy seeks to provide a pipeline of leaders to Carolina’s teams. Beyond that, Leadership Academy programming is an additional resource for coaches in the recruitment, identification, development of and partnership with leaders on their respective teams.

In coordinating and organizing more than 6,000 hours of leadership training for student-athletes and coaches annually, the Leadership Academy provides UNC’s student-athletes with consistent leadership development over the course of each year.

Each Leadership Academy program builds upon the previous one:



Participants First Years Sophomores – Seniors Sophomores Juniors Seniors
Selection Process Mandatory for all first-year student-athletes By application By application  Coach nominated Elected captain or appointed by coach
Frequency of Workshops First Monday of every month 7–8pm (6 workshops) Thursday before Carolina NAVIGATE Workshop 7–8pm  (6 Meetings) Second Monday of every month 7–8pm (6 workshops) Third Monday of every month 7-8:15pm (6 workshops) Fourth Monday of every month 7–8pm (6 workshops)
Focus of Curriculum Personal Leadership Servant Leadership Leadership by Example Practical Leadership Vocal Leadership
Special Features Mentors, Carolina NAVIGATE Groups, Cohort Captains; Carolina CREED Awards DiSC Classic 2.0 Assessment, Mentor Cohorts, Cohort Captains, Recognition Banquet DiSC Workplace Assessment, Capstone Project, Mentorship, Recognition Banquet DiSC Work of Leaders Assessment, Field Trips, CSLS, Struggle to Juggle, Recognition Banquet DiSC 363 for Leaders Assessment, Successor Letter, Onboarding, Tar Heel Leaders of Distinction, Recognition Banquet
Completion Requirements Must satisfactorily (2 absences) complete in order to be eligible for Carolina ACCELERATE Must attend Training Session and 4/6 Workshops and 4/6 Meetings Must attend 4/6 Workshops; Complete “Effective Leadership” Reflection Must attend 4/6 Workshops; Complete “Struggle to Juggle” Reflection Must attend 4/6 Workshops; Complete “Successor Letter” Reflection
Contact Person(s) Cricket Lane Cricket Lane Shelley Johnson Shelley Johnson Shelley Johnson Carolina NAVIGATE (first year of Leadership Academy)

Carolina CREED is the first-year component of the Richard A. Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy. The Department of Athletics requires all first-year student-athletes to participate in NAVIGATE. Student-athletes attend monthly meetings with their mentors and other invited guests. These meetings focus on the five elements of the Carolina CREED Statement and provide educational information, a supportive environment and small group discussions. Student-athletes learn personal leadership skills while pledging to abide by the Carolina CREED Statement:

“As a University of North Carolina student-athlete, I pledge to make every effort to abide by the Carolina CREED as a show of my commitment to the University, the Department of Athletics, my team and myself.

C – I will know and embrace the tradition and CULTURE of this great University and its athletics department

R – I will RESPECT myself and others

E – I will pursue EXCELLENCE in my academic work by striving to reach my academic potential while preparing for a career of significance

E – I will EXCEL athletically by committing myself to performance excellence, team success and continual improvement

D – I will DEVELOP the capacity to effectively lead myself and others.”

Upperclass student-athletes work as peer mentors to first-year student-athletes. Mentors receive valuable training and learn to use educational/professional resources to support their efforts and help their charges with the following:

  • Ease the transition from high school
  • Create social connections
  • Understand the importance of respecting leadership
  • Learn to effectively lead themselves

18.1.3 SCORES

Summer College Opportunities for Realizing Educational Success

SCORES is a first-year experience workshop organized by the Department of Athletics for first-year football student-athletes. In operation since summer 2006, SCORES prepares freshman football players for academic and athletic life at UNC. The program’s format could potentially be expanded to all first-year student-athletes (see Process 4.4 SCORES).

The program includes seminars on academic expectations, exploring a major, Honor Court, budgeting, NCAA Compliance, public safety and community service. SCORES seminars take place on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout Summer Session II. No course credit is given for participation in SCORES.

SCORES is not a part of the Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy (BCLA). CREED is the first program in the BCLA and is mandatory for all first-year student-athletes (not just football).

18.1.4 Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC)

Each of UNC’s 28 competitive teams has two student-athlete representatives and two alternates on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC). Representatives attend monthly forums to discuss such topics as life skills programs, athletic department policies, and ACC and NCAA regulations. Representatives communicate their team’s perspectives on Department of Athletics issues and report back to their teammates about events and policies that will impact them. Members serve as liaisons to the Faculty Athletics Committee (FAC). UNC SAAC members also represent UNC in the conference-level SAAC and on the NCAA Division I SAAC. Additionally, SAAC leaders have the opportunity to participate in a leadership course offered to undergraduate students through UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

18.1.5 Carolina Outreach

Student-athletes dedicate thousands of hours per year to community service and outreach in Chapel Hill and the surrounding area. Through the Carolina Outreach program, UNC’s student-athletes have given their time, talent and resources to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Durham school systems, UNC Hospitals, and organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics and Charles House.

Student-athletes have also launched and maintained their own community service projects, including the Sun Safety Project, field days for local elementary schools, Adopt-a-Classroom and Carolina Dreams.

18.1.6 Career Development

Student-Athlete Development offers career services and resources in conjunction with and complementary to UNC’s Office of Career Services and resources within UNC’s professional schools. These offices coordinate services to support student-athletes’ major and career choices.

18.2 Student Athlete Well-being and Mental Health Resources

The Carolina Athletics Mental Health and Performance Psychology Program (MHPP) launched in January 2017.  Staff includes two full-time licensed psychologists and Certified Mental Performance Consultants, one full-time licensed clinical social worker, along with one contract licensed psychologist, who provides 8 hours of service per week. Each full-time provider serves as an assigned “point-person” for Varsity teams at UNC. The primary focus of Carolina MHPP at this time is to provide comprehensive clinical and performance enhancement services, increase the presence of the mental health resources for student-athletes, collaborate with other departments within Athletics and at UNC, and to continue to move towards the development of new programs and services.

18.2.1 Mental Health Services and Resources

All student-athletes are eligible to receive individual mental health services. Student-athletes may set up an initial appointment by contacting the MHPP. Additionally, the student-athlete’s team physician or certified athletic trainer can make a direct referral. Student-athletes may also choose to receive mental health services through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) or community providers. If specialty care or a higher level of care is recommended, MHPP staff assist the student-athlete in coordinating a referral.

MHPP services are confidential for student-athletes pursuant to HIPPA and North Carolina state laws and ethics. At the initial appointment, student-athletes will receive informed consent regarding the services and limits of confidentiality. In the informed consent, communication within Sports Medicine for the purposes of coordination of care is discussed.

18.2.2 Performance Psychology Services and Resources

All student-athletes are eligible to receive individual performance psychology services, following the same procedures described for mental health services. Performance psychology concerns are often connected with mental health concerns, which will be addressed in sessions as well. MHPP strives to incorporate evidence-based technology, such as biofeedback and neurofeedback to provide innovative and effective performance enhancement services. Performance psychology services are also provided through team sessions, as described in 18.2.3.

18.2.3 Team Services (Performance Enhancement, Cohesion, Leadership, Conflict Resolution)

Team performance psychology services are available to all Varsity teams. Coaches or student-athletes may contact their team point-person to initiate these services. The services may be focused on issues such as performance psychology, team cohesion, team dynamics, and leadership.

18.2.4 Athlete Eating Disorder Team (Coordination of Care)

The AEDT is a multidisciplinary team, consisting of UNC Athletics’ Registered Dietitians, Sport Psychologist, Designated Team Physician, and Designated Athletic Trainer Representative. This core team will meet regularly to discuss the treatment of student-athletes with eating disorders/disordered eating and consider formal recommendations for those student-athletes for whom there are concerns regarding the current treatment plan. This team also focuses on early identification of athletes with disordered eating, prevention of disordered eating, and referrals to higher level of care when appropriate.

18.2.5 Resilience and Coping Skills Education

The development of effective coping skills is woven into individual and team sessions, outreach opportunities, and programming for first-year and transfer student-athletes. Efforts are made to integrate skills for coping and resilience in multiple settings.

18.2.6 Injury and Retirement Support

Student-athletes who experience a significant injury or are retiring from sport due to injury are encouraged by sports medicine staff to meet with a sport psychologist. Two support groups are offered when there is sufficient interest: the Injured Athlete Group and the Medical Retirement Group. These groups are facilitated by a sport psychologist and are confidential for the members of the group.

18.2.7 Substance Use/Abuse Treatment

Individual Substance Use Counseling is available to all student-athletes. The substance use policy encourages athletes to voluntarily identify if they are struggling with substance use to begin treatment proactively. Treatment is confidential. If a student-athlete tests positive for a substance through institutional testing, substance use counseling is made available and encouraged. If a higher level of care is deemed appropriate, the MHPP provider will work the student-athlete to coordinate a referral.

18.2.8 Partnerships with Student Athlete Development, ASPSA, Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy, etc. for integrated services and support

Carolina MHPP partners with other areas of student-athlete support, including Student-Athlete Development, SAAC, ASPSA, Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy, and Strength and Conditioning. This coordination is an effort to increase presence and awareness of mental health and performance psychology services, as well as a variety of avenues for integrating mental health and performance psychology skills.

18.2.9 Crisis Response

The Department of Sports Medicine has established an Emergency Action Plan for Mental Health Crisis, based on the NCAA Mental Health Best Practices. Sports Medicine staff and CAPS 24/7 are available 24 hours a day, in the event of a mental health crisis. The UNC Emergency Department is utilized in cases of imminent risk to self or others. The Emergency Action Plan is reviewed with staff and individual emergencies are reviewed by the Emergency Care Committee to go over recommendations to improve future care.