North Carolina Scandal Another Black-Eye For NCAA, College Athletics


That the North Carolina Tar Heels have a better chance of winning a national championship this season than the university has of being slapped with any substantive, game-changing penalties stemming from the school’s yet unfolding academic scandal tells you everything you need to know about the win-at-all-costs, cold-hearted nature of prime time college athletics.

North Carolina opens the preseason as the country’s No. 12 ranked team in the AP poll, but not even those sort of lofty standings do justice to how well the Heels’ appear to excel at the heartless game of hypocrisy and human exploitation.

Word came this week that more than 3,000 students, not so coincidentally roughly half of them athletes the school was looking to keep academically eligible by any means necessary, were regularly awarded A and B grades for classes that required no attendance and only the composition of a research paper presumably similar to the one former Tar Heels’ hoops star Rashad McCants claims was written for him and perhaps even graded by an office secretary empowered to sign the Afro-American Studies department chairman’s name on grade rolls.

The next time someone tells you that the NCAA and powerhouse institutions like North Carolina are justified in not sharing any of their annual multi-million dollar earnings with the athletes who perform all the labor and put in all the work remind them about the Tar Heels. Remind them that the U.S. Justice Department investigation revealing all the Heels’ duplicity also concluded that “athletic counselors,” typically some of the very people who make some of the most ardent arguments about how a free and quality education are more than enough payment to athletes under scholarship, are also some of the ones now found to have “steered athletes” into some of the institution’s most bogus classes for almost two decades.

The practice and the classes ceased sometime in 2011, or right around the time McCants started publicly expressing how much he now feels used and abused by his whole Carolina experience based on the no-win situation he feels it placed him in even though he was one of the main cogs on their 2005 national championship winning squad.

Even now, longtime Carolina coach Roy Williams, the man McCants actually starred for, still claims he only harbored “early suspicions about his players’ heavy use of the classes,” but never had any direct knowledge of their participation. How all so very convenient.

Carolina will almost certainly be forced to forfeit wins that date all the way back to the days of the legendary Dean Smith, but that’s nothing compared to the losses innocent and uninvolved UNC students could ultimately come to bear. Word now is the university is facing actions that could call its overall worthiness for accreditation into question.

It’s all so NCAA-like, and its win at all-cost mentality. In the end, almost everyone it touches, in one way or another, is left feeling like a victim.

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Glenn Minnis
Glenn Minnis is an XN Sports NBA contributor. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, BET and AOL. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.