I'm sure Dan Kane of the Raleigh News and Observer is thankful this holiday season for many things, most of which is the UNC academic scandal, which is the gift that keeps on giving. This week's Kane Klassic features "insider" Mary Willingham, who worked in the academic support program for athletes at UNC. She asserts that there were a myriad of problems with students who were unqualified to do college work and that "the academic support system provided improper help and tolerated plagiarism. When she raised questions or made an objection to what she saw as cheating, she said, she saw no one take her concerns seriously."
Among Willingham's concerns were that the no-show classes in African American studies dated back to at least 2003, and that men's basketball players were heavily enrolled in AFAM classes until 2009, when a new academic counselor came on board. She also claims she reported to the head of the academic advising department her concerns about a paper that was later suspected to have been altered by Jennifer Wiley, the tutor at the center of the original academic issues.
You will forgive me if I am a little fatigued at the constant trickle of information about the scandal. As Kane notes, there are at least four investigations looking at what went on in academics at UNC. I am 100% for turning the entire apple cart over and letting the chips fall where they may. The Martin report will likely address all of this and while it is incumbent upon Kane and the N&O to sell papers and drive web hits, this new "revelation" is thin on specifics and more about general culture.
Another issue is that we are moving past the specifics of academic fraud and more into the culture of college athletics. The issue the NCAA is interested in is whether or not AFAM was set up with no-show classes for the benefit of athletes, and as of yet, that has not been proven to be the case. The larger issue of whether or not athletes who are woefully unprepared for college work are thrown into the university setting and somehow kept eligible for three years (because once you get past the 3rd year you're good for your final year) is likely something the NCAA is not interested in pursuing because A) it is their cash cow and B) they are not in the business of telling member institutions how to run their academic shops.
In other NCAA-related news, the University of Miami has chosen to again self-impose a bowl ban in light of what are sure to be pending sanctions for improper benefits, although the NCAA seems to be taking their sweet time about wrapping up that investigation. With the ban, the way is paved for Georgia Tech to be the
sacrificial lamb Coastal Division representative in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte next weekend. Of course this may gin up more discussion about whether or not UNC should have done the same. As previously mentioned, the situations are not similar in that the NCAA was likely to drop a ban on UNC regardless, while since the NCAA is dragging out the Miami investigation, they are more likely to get credit for time served.