An investigation into academic fraud at the University of North Carolina has
resulted in a ban on postseason bowl appearances this season and the loss of several
football scholarships. Those responsible have either lost their jobs or been forced into retirement.
Say it ain't so
We have all
joked about athletes masquerading as students and getting preferential
treatment at big time collegiate sports programs, but anecdotal evidence is
mostly all we have to go on. We know
there is something akin to a basket weaving class at every major university for
the jocks too disinterested to attend a curriculum of any gravitas, but it's
merely business as usual because, let's face it, when we watch college football
we don't care to read the athlete's term papers.
that speculation finally came home to roost with the investigation into a
summer class that was hastily added to the schedule. It had everything you would expect from a
course at an institution of higher learning: a classroom, books and, of course, students. The only thing missing was a teacher. That's
right, sports fans, evidence suggests that student athletes, particularly
football players at UNC, were steered to classes that had little or no
could simply be a case of challenging the young lads even more since, it seems to
me, learning material without the benefit of a teacher would be much more
difficult than if those same studious student athletes had an actual teacher in the room with them. Yeah, right. It was what we used
to call a "gut course," a show up and tune out class with the only
requirement being that you didn't snore too loud. The "professor" in charge of this
charade was one Julius Nyang'oro, who in the summer of 2011 was supposed to
conduct a class called AFAM 280: Blacks in North Carolina; of the 19 students
enrolled, 18 were football players. Oh right, the other one was a former football player, he got lucky.
Although clearly stated in the course description that the class was not independent study but was to be taught by an
instructor, the professor chose not to show up
throughout the entirety summer program. The student advisers, a.k.a. as the
academic support staff, those liaisons between the real world and the pampered
princes of the gridiron, claimed they didn't know that the teacher wasn't
actually going to teach the course. And, while they report to the university's College
of Arts and Sciences, their offices are actually housed within Kenan Stadium. Sounds exactly right to me.
has been unequivocal from the NCAA probe, with Nyang'oro not only resigning his chair but retiring altogether from the university. The class in question was one of many under scrutiny, and the
investigation has resulted in the ouster of football coach Butch Davis and
greased the wheels of former AD Dick Baddour's retirement as well.
University of North Carolina will not be eligible for a bowl this season, loses five football scholarships per year for the next three academic years
and will be on probation during that time. For all intents and purposes, the UNC football program is paralyzed for
the foreseeable future, and one of the scheme's major culprits gets to walk
away while UNC picks up the pieces.
Tarheels' program is not the only one allowing shortcuts for student athletes
but they are the most recent to be caught. It's not uncommon for the teachers, administrators and coaches to get so
wrapped up in facilitating an easy path for those students who are winning ball
games for the university that shortcuts become the norm rather than the
exception. The real world doesn't care a
whole lot about a 21-year-old history major who can wax prosaic on the Magna
Carta or the War of 1812, but if that same kid can throw a dart across the
middle or carve up defenses with the grace and alacrity of a cheetah - well, now, we have something special.
But, the bottom line is that many of these
special kids won't be so special after they graduate. Only a handful make it to the next level, and
the rest of those student athletes find out very quickly they are no longer
students nor athletes. Doesn't that
university have an obligation to, at the very least, equip them with that
understanding? UNC apparently didn't
think so, but I'll bet they do now.