The academic scandal at UNC continues to unfold and with every new investigation and revelation, the squalor of the situation gets worse. Obviously, I have no idea which if any of the members of the coaching staffs for any of the UNC teams had direct knowledge of the “shadow courses” and the ongoing fraud. Having said that, let me make a few observations from afar based on what has been reported:
This business went on for about two decades. How this all managed to “stay under the radar” when students were obviously putting one over on “the system” is miraculous. Or maybe, people in the system actually knew it was going on and pretended not to notice…
Those athletes who were on scholarship for 4 years and who took these shadow courses to major in a subject where they learned less than what might be reasonable were defrauded by the University of North Carolina. Their opportunity for an education was reduced almost to nothing.
Where is the faculty outrage here? The stature of the university where their lot in academic life is cast has been tarnished.
Where is the alumni outrage here? The value of UNC degrees has to be diminished given that thousands of students took these non-existent courses.
Now, we have something akin to a litmus test for the NCAA. For at least the last 50 years, the NCAA has presented itself as an organization dedicated to the concept of the “student athlete”. Recall all the self-congratulatory promos that the NCAA has done about its athletes who will be “going pro” in something other than sports. Here is a situation where one of its member schools – and one of its very successful athletic schools – has systematically undermined the concept of the “student athlete” for two decades. That situation is far more subversive to the concept of the “student athlete” than a booster hiring an athlete for a summer job and paying the kid more than he is worth. What UNC has been doing is to perpetuate a system that incentivizes athletes not to be students.
Please notice how quiet and private Mark Emmert has been over the last week or so as more information regarding the academic scandal hits the press. I doubt that he is in a coma so I wonder where he is and what he thinks about this and what the hell he is going to do about it.
On the assumption that what I have read about the investigative report is true – I have not read the investigative report itself – here is a baseline punishment:
No UNC team in any sport will be allowed to participate in any game with any other NCAA school for a period of one year. Any athlete on any UNC team who chooses to transfer during that period can immediately be eligible at the school to which he/she transfers.
That is the baseline; preferably, the period of time where UNC athletics would be “dark” would be two years and not just one year.
If the NCAA limits punishment to “bowl bans” and “reductions in scholarships” for this 20-year violation of the rules, I will have to conclude two things:
1. The NCAA is even more hypocritical than the IOC.
2. The entire concept of a “student athlete” is a sham and no one in the NCAA can even pretend to believe it is real.
Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot made a cogent point related to this mess:
“No-brainer: Could you find academic corruption like the kind that was uncovered at North Carolina going on at other football and basketball factories? Sure, if anyone looked hard enough. But following big-time college athletics has always required fans – fans in the media included – to resist the temptation to look behind the curtain.”
I agree that academic frauds exist in places other than UNC. My position is, however, that existence elsewhere does not exonerate UNC even a little bit. Moreover, my agreement points one more accusatory finger at the NCAA and prods me to ask the institution:
Will you reveal to the public the extent of the NCAA’s efforts to root out academic fraud at member institutions beyond waiting for the next whistleblower to nail a set of theses on your door – so to speak?
I have been enjoying the World Series games despite the “in your face” nature of the FOX telecasts. Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle had this plea in a recent column and I would like to join him in his entreaty:
“World Series Telecasts: Dear Fox: On those in-game dugout interviews, pleeease put the interviewee in a box in the corner of the screen, for the benefit of those of us who want to watch the freaking baseball game!
“The dugout interview: Greatest innovation since the $12 beer.”
Finally, here is an interesting observation from Brad Rock of the Deseret News:
“Warner Bros. television is planning to release a Mike Tyson-inspired adult cartoon series.
“That’s kind of been the theme all along, hasn’t it?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………