The lengthy investigation by the NCAA of the University of North Carolina Athletic program has finally come to a close. Actually, the investigation has been over for quite some time. All that was left was the punishment phase. The investigation has been both a black cloud and an embarrassment for the university as a whole.
It has been in and out of the news for so long now you may have forgotten what it was all about. The investigation centered on a series of no-show and no-work academic classes that operated for 18 years and were taken by numerous athletes, particularly men’s basketball players. The Tar Heels’ 2005 and 2009 national titles were thought to be at risk.
All the evidence was there along with school officials acknowledging the allegations were true. However, the NCAA once again showed how toothless, and selective, it was with its ruling on the academic fraud case.
Carolina was found not guilty, going without penalty after the Tar Heels came up with a defense that their fraud was not technically against NCAA rules because no one ever imagined any school would ever dare employ it.
The defense utilized will long be seen as legendary. The school acknowledged that the classes that were taken were essentially bankrupt of any kind of teaching, learning or supervision, but that they were okay with them and having them were within their rights as a university.
But if you are not teaching, are you really a university? In other words, to defend the basketball team and keep their national titles, UNC had to claim it was not really a university. How can you claim to be when you do not have to do college work to get college credit?
Here are some of the findings:
“With respect to paper courses, there is little dispute,” the NCAA report on the case states. “The classes did not meet. They rarely, if at all, directly involved a faculty member. They required the submission of a paper, occasionally two shorter papers. The papers were often graded by the secretary, who admitted she did not read every word and occasionally did not read every page. The papers consistently received high grades. At the hearing, UNC stood by its paper courses. UNC indicated that the work was assigned, completed, turned in and graded under the professor’s guidelines. UNC also asserted that the grades are recorded on the students’ transcripts and continue to count.”
Personally, I do not think I am going way out on a limb thinking that this is not a college class. Even your most avid Tar Heels’ fan has to shake their head in wonderment. Especially those who got their degree in Chapel Hill.
The defense, while it worked, basically shows how the university sold its soul. Carolina not only isn’t ashamed of academic fraud, it’s basically celebrating it.
By doing so, and since regular students also took the class, they didn’t violate NCAA rules. Sure, they took a hit to their academic credibility, but those championship banners get to stay. Sadly, that is likely more important to alums anyway.
Even so, I have to wonder if other schools like say, Miami or Southern Cal, would have gotten away with this?