In the past week, the News and Observer has dropped the academic bomb on the University of North Carolina. An investigation into the African and Afro-American studies classes from 2007-2011 showed the following:
There were 686 enrollments for the 54 suspect classes. Of those, football players accounted for 246 of the enrollments, or 36 percent, while basketball players accounted for 23 enrollments, or three percent, according to UNC. Together, football and basketball players accounted for 39 percent of the enrollments.
Football and basketball players account for less than one percent of the total undergraduate enrollment â€“ about 120 of the more than 18,500 undergraduate students on campus. On the other hand, many of the suspect classes were held in the summer, a time when many football players are on campus.
When this article went public, especially the 3% basketball number, everyone knew that Roy Williams would be asked about it. And he was. Here is what he said:
North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams on Tuesday defended his players who were enrolled in classes at the center of an internal university investigation of academic fraud and improprieties.
â€œThe players were eligible to be enrolled in those classes, as were non-student-athletes, and they did the work that was assigned to them,â€ Williams said through an athletic department spokesman.
As Robbi Pickeral of ESPN.com stated in her UNC blog:
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said through a team spokesman Tuesday that he is not concerned that basketball players made up about 3 percent of the students enrolled in classes in which an internal school review found unauthorized grade changes and little or no instruction by professors.
Nobody in Chapel Hill publicly is concerned about how this affects the cash cow, the menâ€™s basketball team. Why would they be when everyone takes the 3% number at face value? But is that a valid number based on a more appropriate sample size?
Anyway, letâ€™s dive a little deeper into the 3%. The News and Observer stated that there are around 18,500 undergraduate students. Of the 686 students in the 54 affected classes, 23 were basketball players. This works out to a little more than 3%. But take a step back and you can see that the 3%, although factually legitimate, is misleading. But what percentage of basketball players were in one of the questionable classes?
We know that 23 basketball players took one of these classes. We do not know if that means that 23 players each took one of these classes or if some basketball players took multiple classes. My educated guess is that at least one player took multiple classes. So we will break this down in several different percentages of basketball players to get a better gauge on what the true percentage of basketball players are that took one of these classes. There are a few facts that we need to introduce now.
1. From 2007-2009, there were 32 basketball players that were on the roster
2. From 2007-2012, there were 45 basketball players that were on the roster
3. Of the 45 basketball players, 29 of these players were consistently in the rotation to my knowledge. The other 16 basketball players were what UNC has routinely called the Blue Team.
4. All but 2 of the 54 questionable classes took place between 2007-2009.
5. I chose every odd number of players taking at least one of the classes. This makes the below graphs more readable.
Letâ€™s assume first that there were basketball players in the questionable classes that were taught from 2007 through 2011.
This indicates that from 2007-2012, anywhere from 2.22% to 51.11% of basketball players took one of the suspect classes.
Next, since all but two of the questionable classes were taught from 2007 to 2009, letâ€™s assume that all of the classes that had basketball players enrolled were taught in this shorter time span.
This indicates that from 2007-2009, somewhere between 3.13% to 71.88% of basketball players took one of the suspect classes.
So if it is really is 3% as Coach Williams says, then he thinks that all of these classes were taken by one basketball player. Really Roy?
One note: Without knowing which basketball players specifically were the “23,” we cannot say with certainty say that these below examples were Swahili courses taken during the summer or during the regular academic school year.
1. We all know that Will Graves took Swahili, albeit not well as he reportedly failed the course.
In addition, his academic track record was often less than sparkling as well. As one former teammate noted: â€œI think he failed Swahili. Everyone on the team takes that class and Iâ€™m pretty sure Will was the first one to fail.â€
2. Tyler Hansbrough took Swahili 3 times.
“Sijambo!” he said. “That’s ‘good morning.’ I wouldn’t say I’m ready to go to Kenya right this minute, but I know a little something or two.”
3. John Henson on Twitter:
My bad y’all Swahili… Lol
These are previous North Carolina basketball player(s) examples of taking Swahili:
1. A Marine who graduated from North Carolina around the year 2000 said this of the correlation between Swahili and the basketball team:
Barcott was nearing graduation at UNC Chapel Hill and committed to joining the Marines. But as he’d soon discover, something would happen on the way to war.
“I was fortunate enough to take Swahili classes with the starting lineup of the men’s basketball team at UNC. That was quite an experience,” he said.
2. Melvin Scott was named to the Academic All-ACC team in 2005. He got his degree in African Studies.
3. Per the announcement of a possible SBI investigation into the academic fraud at UNC, we listed out a select group of UNC graduates with a common major:
The quick answer: All of these guys majored in African American studies per the UNC Basketball Media Guides provided online, and all of them played basketball for UNC prior to the years analyzed in the internal AAS/Swahili investigation.
To take the next step, from 1987-2001, there were 42 UNC graduates that played pro basketball.
Of those 42, 30 played in the NBA and the other 12 played in the CBA or overseas.
14 of the 42 players majored in African and Afro-American studies.
After looking at all of this information, should the public believe the 3% number is the only thing you need to know? Should Roy be concerned? Is there some sort of systematic way of making sure that the better basketball players are steered toward this major?
This is definitely an issue that cries out for an independent investigation. Let’s hope the SBI takes the lead in this.