With all of the turmoil in college sports regarding the movement of teams from one conference to another, maybe it is a good thing to see that one school is having “old-time problems”. The University of North Carolina football program – one that has undergone more than enough NCAA scrutiny in the past 18 months – has another academic “issue” on its hands. It seems that an internal investigation by North Carolina has demonstrated that Tar Heel football players have been the fulcrum for events such as “grade changing” and “phantom instruction” in a series of courses in the African and African American Studies department.
Now before any “Dookies” or any of the Wolfpack faithful get themselves lathered up to point a finger at UNC for doing something “unthinkable”, let me suggest that you go and read Scoreboard Baby by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry. Scoreboard Baby is investigative journalism turned into a very readable book and it documents what went down at the University of Washington during the time when Rick Neuheisel was the coach there. One of the amazing things that happened there was that an inordinate number of football players opted to take Swahili language courses from one professor. And – surprise! – they all did very well in those courses keeping their grade point averages where they needed to be to remain eligible. Trust me, there is LOTS more good stuff in that book; it is one I commend to your reading.
What seems to have been going on at UNC is not new and is not unique to UNC. Nevertheless, it is also not in keeping with the proud image that the NCAA wants all of us to believe about its student-athletes. There are a series of very easy courses where athletes seem always to get good grades and if you believe statistics, the football players are being “guided to those courses” in some way because they make up a hugely disproportionate fraction of the enrollment. Consider:
These courses are open to every student at UNC.
Football players make up less than 1% of the enrollment at UNC.
In these “suspect courses”, football players make up 36% of the students taking the courses.
That might be bad enough but the internal UNC investigation showed that the signatures of some UNC professors had been forged on some grade changes in some of these courses and for some other courses, there was no evidence that there was any actual teaching/instruction that occurred. The head of the African and African American Studies department will step down and resign from UNC this summer; the UNC president says the investigation is over and all is well.
Perhaps indeed the academic fraud has been rooted out and banished for the moment. However, what the UNC president did not address was the question of the university’s responsibility with regard to previous players who graduated from UNC and now hold a degree from that school and whose education involved a lot of courses where forged grade changes and absentee instruction might be the norm. How do such alumni enhance the good name of the University of North Carolina?
Mike Bianchi posed this interesting question in the Orlando Sentinel recently:
“Philosophical question: Why is it that coaches only want to spend more time with their families after they’ve had bad seasons?”
For a reason that simply goes beyond my intellectual level to comprehend, there was a story reported in more than one news outlet about Tim Tebow changing the name of his dog from “Bronco” to “Bronx”. Maybe that item was worth a single sentence in a NY paper somewhere, but it turned into a story that some editors believed “needed context”.
All I can say is that Tebow’s dog is probably thrilled that his master did not wind up with the Jacksonville Jaguars lest the dog have to go through life named “Pussy Cat”…
In the Frontier League, there is a team called the Normal Cornbelters; they play in the Bloomington/Peoria region of Illinois. My question is this:
Do the Normal Cornbelters ever get to play the Abnormal Psychologists?
Here is some more detail about the legislation in Minnesota that will provided about $500M for a new stadium to keep the Vikings in the Twin Cities area:
The lease allows the Vikings to play up to 3 games outside the US in the first 15 years. My suspicion is that the team will find a way to play in the “London Game” during the years when they have to play in the University of Minnesota stadium with the idea that they might develop a following “over there”.
Then the Vikes might capitalize on that following in the early years of their new lease.
Greg Cote made a wonderful political point in the Miami Herald recently:
The government continues its re-prosecution of Roger Clemens and now also is looking into the NBA players union. Remember when a federal investigation meant something important was involved?”
Finally, here is some astute social commentary from Brad Rock in the Deseret News:
Lastly comes that remark by Raja Bell, who last week called [Utah Jazz head coach] Ty Corbin “unprofessional” in his communication skills.
Just wondering: Isn’t there also something unprofessional about calling a co-worker unprofessional in public?
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………