North Carolina coach Roy Williams rages he is in disbelief over former star player Rashad McCants claims that the university literally glossed over every rule in the book to keep him and teammates eligible to play on the 2004-05 North Carolina national championship team.
In his case in particular, McCants claims he rarely if ever went to class, had terms papers written for him and failing grades so drastically changed he once went from having two Fs in the same semester to being championed for being a Dean’s list student with nearly perfect marks.
McCants now says he plans to write a book about his Carolina experience and indeed the former NBA first-round draft choice seems to have a way with words, once equating being a part of the Tar Heel program with being in jail where “you’re not allowed to do certain things, not allowed to say certain things” and another where he opined he thought the college experience was like ‘He Got Game’ or ‘Blue Chips,’” where you’re really not expected to go to class or do class work, simply “just show up and play.”
In what could prove a crippling blow to Michael Jordan’s alma mater, McCants told ESPN he believes Williams at least knew about the university’s “paper class” system that didn’t require athletes to go to any classes all semester and only to turn in a term paper for a grade. He later added Williams once directly hinted to him he would have his failing grades raised, telling him “you know, we’re going to be able to figure out how to make it happen, but you need to buckle down on your academics.”
It all serves as yet another glaring instance of the hypocritical nature in which the NCAA and far too many of its member schools seem to operate when it comes to the one-sided business of dealing with their student athletes, serve as yet another shameful example on par with Shabazz Napier bitterly admitting to one and all that there were many nights when he and his UConn teammates were forced to go to bed hungry this season while enroute to winning a national title for the university and netting the millions upon millions in profits that come along with it.
Over the weekend, Williams went into the kind of damage-control mode that would make NCAA president Mark Emmert proud, showing up for a press conference with 11 of his former players, all of whom stood by their coach attesting to his integrity, while pointing accusatory fingers at McCants branding him “a loner” on and off the court.
“First of all, how does anybody know what somebody else believes, but I know what I believe,” Williams snapped, adding of the paper class system “I thought that meant that a class was on paper but it didn’t really exist, and then come to find out people are using that terminology ‘paper classes’ to signify independent study courses that you do papers. I’ve been told by people that some of those are really, really good. It shows a lot of discipline.”
But anger alone will no more remove the clouds that now hover over the Carolina program then more half-hearted promises from the NCAA brain-trust will make the arrangement between the governing body for collegiate athletics and its athletes a fair and equitable partnership.
“You’re there to make revenue for the college,” said McCants. “You’re there to put fans in the seats. You’re there to bring prestige to the university by winning games.”
Silly me, all this time I thought getting an education was at least part of the equation.