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Latest Kane: Athletes Like to Take Easy Classes Together

Grant Halverson - Getty Images

Another day. Another Dan Kane article.

The full article is here, so feel free to give it a read. Allow me to give you the Cliff Notes version of it.

In 2007 there was a class offered at UNC in the Department of Naval Sciences called Naval Weapons Systems(NAVS 302) It had an enrollment of 38 students with 30 of those being athletes which included six members of the basketball team. Tyler Hansbrough and Bobby Frasor(who was interviewed for the article) were one of the six basketball players who took the course. According to the piece, the instructor for the class, Lt Brian Lubitz(who only taught the class once) had spoken to with academic support advisers who then recommended the class. The class itself met regularly and required a 2-3 page paper and a group presentation but did not require exams or quizzes. After Lubitz left UNC, the class was subsequently changed to include tests in addition to the paper/presentation since it was viewed as not being rigorous enough.

So what does it mean? I am not sure it means anything really nor can I find anything in the way the class is described that looks remotely close to an NCAA violation. Was the class easy? It looks that way. Was the class made up of mostly athletes? Yes but that, in and of itself is not a violation nor is the fact advisers directed athletes to the class. With the NCAA it is a question of preferential treatment and the presence of eight regular students who tend to negate that being an issue. The fact the instructor talked to the advisers who then recommended the class could be something or nothing.

As it pertains to the ongoing investigation into UNC academics this seems to be a stretch at best and Kane overplaying his hand at worst. The classes already discovered in the AFAM department were clearly suspect. It was right to investigate those and expose them as potential blights on the integrity of a public university. NAVS 302 and other classes in the Department of Naval Studies all appear to be legitimate classes which met, required work and awarded grades. Not every class is going to be calculus or organic chemistry.

There other problem is the lack of context when it comes to a particular student-athlete's course load. For example, when I was at UNCG, you could earn a BA in English by taking 27 hours out of 122 required to graduate. That means I had a ton of electives so I took history classes, sign language, political science, etc, etc, etc. Some of those classes were not academically rigorous but they were in areas that interested me so I took them. NAVS 302 sounds like that kind of course where the material was interesting and had the bonus of not being all that difficult. In other words, what does the full course load for athletes look like? Are they working towards some type of degree or are they being floated through the easiest classes for eligibility sake? I think we know the answer to those questions and again, if we are talking strictly about NCAA violations there is still not much to see based on the publicly revealed information.

That being said, there is a serious discussion to be had about the charade of the "student-athlete" and yes, classes like NAVS 302 are certainly part of that discussion. It is also a valid point that what happened with the AFAM "paper classes" is a logical progression when the focus of academic support is to first keep athletes eligible. That naturally means easy classes are going to be sought out and used to that end. In that respect, taking a hard look at classes like NAVS 302 is relevant in terms of critiquing the overall system currently employed everywhere for keeping revenue athletes eligible.

Beyond that, I am not sure it is the "bombshell" national media writers think as they continue to hype anything Kane writes as a great moment in journalistic history.. I also wonder where this is really going? Is the modus operandi now going to be finding any class with majority athlete enrollment and question whether it is legit? If so, I am not sure that serves any purpose other than the aforementioned discussion about athletes and eligibility.

Whatever the case, this isn't going away anytime soon.