Carolina Blue Or Carolina Blues?

About 60 years ago, Judy Garland sang:

“Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina … in the morning.”

The song goes on to extol the natural beauty of Carolina – not specifying North or South and so by implication it can be both or either – and how wonderful life is there when you are with loved ones. That is all probably true and it all probably still exists today – – unless you are a sports fan in North Carolina.

The NCAA came down hard on the State of North Carolina moving all of its championship tournament activities out of the state due to the “Bathroom Bill” that is extant there. The ACC followed suit last week and announced that 8 Conference Championship events over the next year will be relocated. Here is the list, in case you did not see it and where each event was supposed to happen:

    Women’s soccer – – Cary NC
    Football – – Charlotte NC
    Men’s and women’s swimming/diving – – Greensboro NC
    Women’s basketball – – Greensboro NC
    Men’s and women’s tennis – – Cary NC
    Women’s golf – – Greensboro NC
    Men’s golf – – New London NC
    Baseball – – Durham NC

Perched atop all of these sanctions and all of the acrimony associated with the sanctions, the NCAA is still dealing with the decades-long academic scandal at UNC. The NCAA is in an uncomfortable and contorted position here – and frankly, I hope they stay there for a while until it hurts. I do not want to get down in the weeds here so here is the overview of the NCAA’s conundrum:

    What UNC did by sending athletes to sham courses and having them take Swahili as their foreign language – not particularly useful in terms of employment here in the US – strikes at the heart of why the NCAA exists.

      The glorified “student-athlete” at UNC was not really a student. The “student-athlete” was taking courses that did not exist or which had minimal academic content/value.

    The “amateurism ideal” requires that the “student-athlete” provide service to the university in exchange for the costs of his/her education. Well, if they were not being educated, then their “free tuition and board” must have been something other than what supports “amateurism”.

The NCAA overseers did not find out about any of this for about 20 years which might cause some folks to ask what those overseers do for a living. And that would be a fair course of inquiry – one with more intellectual content than some of the sham courses provided for UNC athletes. Even more maliciously, one might ask if the overseers “kinda sorta knew” about this but turned a blind eye because UNC is a major presence in several NCAA sports – – including the two that produce 99% of the revenue. Before you call that inquiry overly cynical please recall:

    The only difference between a cynic and a realist is whether or not you agree with him.

The NCAA position in all of this is sort of a hodgepodge of wreckage surrounded by a jumble of debris. To a large extent, it is a problem of their own making and the only way for them to get out of it will be to pay lots of money to a bunch of people in exchange for a confidentiality agreement so that all of the clutter does not come to light. Meanwhile, pardon me for enjoying their discomfort…

Speaking of problems of one’s own making – sometimes referred to as shooting oneself in the foot – the Indianapolis Star had a report last week about a man who overreacted just a bit to losing out on a job opportunity. It seems as if this man aspired to be a 4th grade teacher and a basketball coach in Indiana but the school district involved picked someone else to do those jobs. Obviously, anyone would be disappointed if he/she were among the applicants not selected for the position but I do not think I would ever be in such a state to do what this guy is alleged to have done.

    He began harassing the man who got the jobs – – and the man’s fiancée.

    He mailed packages containing dead animals (4 skunks and a raccoon) to the man and his fiancée.

      The package with the dead raccoon included a note telling the man to “Resign, it will not stop.”

    He mailed letters to the employer claiming that the man had a sexual relationship with an underage student.

    He informed Child Protective Services that the man was abusing his fiancée’s daughter.

    He spray-painted threats on the personal vehicles of the man and his fiancée.

If only half of these allegations are indeed correct, I think I can say with confidence that this person is not someone that I would want to be part of the elementary education system in my county. Lest you think I am making this up, here is the link to the story in the Indianapolis Star:

Finally, since I began this rant with a reference to an old song, let me close with this item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“From the Sometimes You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up file comes word that fibbing swimmer Ryan Lochte’s choice of music for his ‘Dancing with the Stars’ debut was ‘Call Me Irresponsible.’”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

6 thoughts on “Carolina Blue Or Carolina Blues?”

  1. UNC has fretted over the negative impact to their public imagine from the beginning of all this. How do you think their reaction might have differed if the academic fraud had occurred in the Biology Department instead of the AFAM Department? The NCAA claims they base their sanctions (when imposed) on schools that break rules supposedly designed to prevent teams from gaining an illegal competitive advantage . So, what about having athletes who have no pretense of being actual students? Both organizations stink right now.

    1. Doug:

      If the NCAA truly penalized schools for gaining a competitive advantage because players were given grades in courses that were inflated from what the rest of the student body would have received – – talk about a special benefit not available to the student body at large – – there would likely not be more than a dozen schools free of probation or worse at any given point in time.

      This sort of scandal would never happen if the department colluding in the scan were the Biology Dept or the Physics Dept for the simple reason that NO ONE would believe that a significant fraction – or even a majority – of the football/basketball players at a school like UNC would be taking courses in those departments. The names of the players on those class rolls would set off alarms before the first hourly quiz was administered in any such course.

  2. Sir:

    Regarding Carolina blues, amen.

    These NCAA folks seem to act pretty quickly and decisively when faced with situations outside of their strict charter, e.g., the Penn State scandal.

    1. Steve:

      You are absolutely right – – and the NCAA has had to retreat a bit from its draconian and self-righteous actions right after the Sandusky Affair became public. They over-reached in that matter, but it was easy for them to decide which side of the issue to be on. In this case, they have a much more difficult balancing act to effect.

  3. It seems to me that the true conflict for the NCAA is in its basic mission: athletics or academics? It’s similar to the conundrum the Olympics faced before “going pro” officially, because even Jim Thorpe was stripped of his decathlon gold for playing in a semipro baseball game 3 years before Stockholm 1912. Functionally it really meant that one had to be independently wealthy to afford the free time and coaching to train, which made Thorpe’s feat all the more amazing.

    If it is athletic participation, perhaps the AAU model would do a better job than the current NCAA model.

    1. Rugger9:

      The NCAA started out as an athletic organization dedicated to amateurism and fair play among schools in intercollegiate competition. At the outset, I am sure that most – if not all – of the foundations for their rules made sense. The problem is that the NCAA rules are trying to legislate “morals” and ethics” and the like. They try to deny someone’s ability to find a way to gain an edge. That is really difficult to do – – and the NCAA is not in a position where it is as much a laughingstock as it is a respected organization.

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