Today brings us a new entrant into the Outrage Olympics regarding UNC's AFAM department, that of Gregg Doyel, a personal favorite of mine. Doyel, who to judge by his Twitter feed first became aware of the story a few hours before his post, wrote a column chock full of measured, careful responses to... oh who am I kidding. He went off on a tirade:
Academic advisers steering athletes to Nyang'oro's department. Athletes staying eligible by getting grades in some classes that didn't even exist. Athletes who played football and men's basketball.
Did the coaches know? Well, ask yourself this: Are we to believe that academic advisers were steering famous athletes to bogus classes behind the backs of the millionaire coaches who recruited, coached and needed those athletes to remain eligible?
Answers are coming, but already we know this: The scandal spanned the decade from 2001-11. Know what happened that decade? The UNC men's basketball team played in three Final Fours. It won national titles in 2005 and '09.
Did any players on those NCAA championship teams attend bogus classes? According to the News & Observer, almost 67 percent of the students in those 54 classes were athletes. Most played football, but the newspaper reported that UNC records showed "basketball players had also enrolled. In two of the classes, the sole enrollee was a basketball player."
See, this is so much worse than what happened at Florida State -- and Florida State vacated two seasons of saintly Bobby Bowden's victories, suffered scholarship restrictions and received four years of probation.
It's time for the NCAA to start digging. In the meantime, North Carolina should get a head start on some of its own chores.
For starters? There are some banners at the Smith Center that need to come down.
Where to start? What happened at Florida State involved athletic department tutors taking tests and writing papers for athletes; if that sounds familiar to the Jennifer Wiley incident, well, that's because it is. And UNC's punishment was equally harsh. This involves a rogue professor whose unethical behavior went unnoticed by his academic colleagues for years, but you think everyone in the athletic department was in on it? Sure.
(Doyel later walked back the banner comment a bit; despite heavily implying he wants championships revoked, on Twitter he just claimed there's a Final Four banner from Peppers' 2000 season and that's what he was referring to. No effort was made to determine when the alleged bogus classes were taken, and whether it would make him ineligible that season, of course.)
Meanwhile, history professor and source for last week's ESPN article Jay Smith was on the radio today, and if you can stand reading the summary as compiled by State fans, you'll find that his position is quite reasonable — college athletics has a corrupting effect on the educational institution, an argument that's been made for about a hundred years now without there being a lot of evidence to disprove it. He's against the calls to shut the department down, as again, it was one professor who behaved abominably. And he had this to say (presumably paraphrased):
My thinking about Butch has evolved over the past year. I had the conventional view initially - a firewall between academics and athletics so if something goes wrong it will be their fault not ours. But now I'm not so sure that Butch was aware necessarily of what was going on in the classrooms and more importantly, I've concluded that the problem is a systemic one - it's the system that unites the two sides in a hypocritical posture that needs to be reviewed and reassessed. Pinning it on athletics or a couple of academics is wrong - it's a systemic problem. My view of the culpability of BD is very different today than it was a year ago.
He's also only taught one football and basketball player in his fifteen years at UNC (neither did well) which immediately led to State fans shouting "Steering! Inappropriate academic advising!" as opposed to the more reasonable assumption that his classes seem to be primarily upper-level ones on early-modern France; I'm not sure how many athletes specialize in that sort of thing.
But if you want a full-throated defense of the Carolina program, you have to turn to Colin Cowherd, who fufills a certain segment of Tar Heel fandom's dream by mentioning UNC in the same breath as Ohio State and LSU while applying the "everybody does it" defense. (Warning: video of talk radio, both annoying and dull). I don't subscribe to that line of thinking, because I don't think everyone does it, although more do than we all would probably be comfortable with. And it's irrelevant; there are rules and they must be followed. Carolina needs to get their house in order. And just ignore certain columnists while doing so.