Now For Sensible People Writing Serious Articles About UNC's Scandal

Instead of feces throwing monkeys who think it is okay to joke that Tyler Hansbrough was "special needs"

First up, Andrew Sharp who calls out the outrageous and makes some solid points about the real discussion we should be having in this whole mess.

So now there's another big scandal to talk about, and another excuse to feign disbelief and get outraged and indignant and horrified, because that's just the way sportswriters write about these things. I promised myself I wasn't going to read any of it, but after three friends sent me one of the shoutier takes on the situation, I broke down and gave it a chance.

"My sister graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and loved the school so much that she still lives nearby," Gregg Doyel writes at CBS Sports. "I didn't want to believe this school -- her school -- could be so shameful."

Oh come on, do we really have to do this?

To anyone who wants to pretend this is a SHOCKING NIGHTMARE: You know when I learned that college athletes get all kinds of shady academic benefits? WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE.

I went to Boston College, a school with stricter academic standards than most and less pressure to win than most other big time programs. Even there, athletes could reschedule exams at will, had tutors on call to help them write term papers, and probably/definitely got favorable treatment from a few professors on campus. Nothing illegal or even close to illegal, just ... Our academic experience wasn't the same. This is what bugs me most about this shocked tone of all the vigilante journalism surrounding college sports. Did these people ever go to college? Have they ever spoken to athletes? Have any of these college sports reporters ever followed college sports?

Like this from AOL Fanhouse:

Think about that: the athletic department and a department of academics conspiring to keep students eligible so they can play games. This isn’t high school, everyone. This is one of the most respected academic institutions in the world cheating to keep athletes eligible.

Seriously? That paragraph's not sarcasm?

I'm not saying every college athlete piles up credits in bogus classes, or that having tutors to help write papers is the same as (apparently) getting free grades from a rogue professor. But given the way big time college sports operate, it shouldn't be shocking that this happened at Carolina, and similar systems are probably in place at a lot of other schools, too.

If the NCAA wants to get involved, they should get involved and hammer away. If there's proof that UNC's football and basketball program instigated all this, Carolina deserves to be punished.

But for the rest of us, instead of all this sanctimonious whining from naive columnists and rabid NC State fans -- isn't it funny that the best thing to happen to NC State sports fans in a quarter century is an academic scandal at Carolina? -- let's try to be adults about this. What happened at Carolina is an extreme example of what happens at big time schools everywhere.

What's nice about Sharp's angle on this is he isn't playing the "it happens everywhere" card for the sake of playing it or even to justify UNC's behavior. In fact, Sharp says if the NCAA wants to punish UNC over this it is probably deserved and should happen. What Sharp does so well here is bring the real issue into focus and that is the academic system for athletes with particular attention given to those athletes who will never make it to the professional level. The disservice, Sharp argues, is to the kid who plays four years of football and has nothing to fall back on. No NFL/NBA career. No education and by extension no real job prospects. That is the conversation that needs to happen and it needs to happen at every major program in the country.

Meanwhile The Sporting News' Mike Decourcey gives a very reasoned take on the scandal which includes the call for an independent investigation which is probably the best route to go at this point.

There’s a lot of deductive reasoning taking place regarding the Peppers transcript, starting with the circumstantial case that went into determining it belonged to him. The university acknowledgement that the transcript appeared to be genuine, however, makes that less a concern. It allows us to concentrate more on whether courses that have been acknowledged by Carolina as deficient or fraudulent in the latter part of the 2000s—taught or supervised in the department of African and African-American studies by then-chairman Julius Nyang’oro—were being phonied up much earlier in the decade.

The success of an otherwise non-performing student in the AFAM classes is not sufficient evidence, nor any kind of evidence, of impropriety. There are other plausible explanations for that success, starting with the possibility the student might have been motivated and engaged in those particular classes in a way he might not have been in other courses.

The presence of numerous athletes in the AFAM classes is not sufficient evidence, nor any kind of evidence, that the academic advisors working with UNC athletes were complicit in the acknowledged fraud. There are other plausible explanations for the athletes’ concentration in those courses, starting with the possibility the advisors merely noted the success of particular athletes in those courses and concluded others would do well in them.

These might not be the likely explanations for what transpired. The likely explanations might seem closer to what is being suspected. But that is why it is essential North Carolina commence the sort of comprehensive self-examination Penn State undertook in regards to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. For all the pain and embarrassment that resulted from the Freeh report, Penn State is much closer to recapturing its soul today than Carolina, which has seen the details of this academic fraud bleed into the media for roughly a year without taking a single bold action in response.

I tend to agree. Not only does UNC need closure, it also needs the investigation being done the right way and by someone who is not the media or Pack Pride. Everyone else who has been jumping up and down, screaming about this scandal all have their own agendas for doing so. For NCSU fans it is a bloodthirst to see UNC athletics laid waste and a rival embarrassed. For Dan Kane, who cloaks himself in the piety of the journalistic pursuit of truth, it is also about selling papers. The outrage mongers simply enjoy the train wreck and the license it gives them to write hyperbole to their heart's content. A well-run, airtight independent probe has but one agenda and that is investigation. It also means you deal with the findings in one fail swoop then move past them. Maybe UNC administrators are afraid of what such a review might reveal but unfortunately we are past the point where containment is an effective strategy. The media and possibly others are going to keep driving at this and the choice is either to let a sanctioned panel probe the scandal or continue to allow UNC to be shredded slowly by the trickle of damning information.

And finally, James Curle of the Riddick & Reynolds Podcast, penned this excellent insight into the role of Pack Pride's message board in UNC troubles. Well worth the read.

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