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Dana Oâ€™Neil at ESPN.com comments on what we here in NC have known for many, many years…the NCAA and UNC are baloney
The University of North Carolina has essentially admitted that dozens of courses taught by African-American studies professor Julius Nyang’oro were, to use non-academic parlance, baloney.
The school has not argued that athletes made up a high percentage of the students enrolled in those baloney courses.
Going a step further, a report engineered by a faculty committee concluded — though not yet fully endorsed by the university — that academic counselors assigned to specific teams perhaps pushed athletes to those baloney classes.
And the NCAA apparently has no jurisdiction in this matter.
Which is why, dear folks in Indianapolis, people just don’t get you sometimes.
So what about the NCAA? Are they going to get involved?
Except, as of right now, there is no indication that the NCAA will revisit or re-examine the penalties it has already inflicted on UNC and its football team for violations related to improper benefits and academic misconduct involving a tutor.
The reason: The athletes did the baloney work in the baloney courses, and so long as the baloney courses weren’t balonified solely for the benefit of athletes — in other words, they were equal-opportunity baloney classes made available to everyone at North Carolina — it’s not an NCAA problem.
In NCAA parlance, they call it involving the athletic nexus.
In layman’s terms, it’s baloney.
Shocking I know.
This particular case is about North Carolina, but the greater issue isn’t. Essentially, the hook in this case is that there is no proof that a coach or athletic department official coerced Nyang’oro to make lunch meat out of his curriculum for the benefit of the athletes enrolled.
But this isn’t just about targeting easy classes or less challenging majors. There isn’t a college student alive who couldn’t tell you where to find the easier A’s on his or her campus (late 1980s/early 1990s in State College, Pa., you went with Astronomy 101 or Geology 101. We even called it “Rocks for Jocks”).
Pushing athletes to particular majors or even classes — clustering, if you will — while perhaps distasteful, isn’t in and of itself fraudulent. Pushing athletes to classes that were deemed “aberrant” by an internal university probe due to grade changes and forgeries is an entirely different matter.
These weren’t easy courses. They weren’t courses at all. More like glorified babysitting hours.
Well if there’s one thing we know about UNC is it’s definitely Romper Room time over there.
Robbi Pickeral at ESPN.com also adds her two cents about the NCAA staying mum on the UNC scandal.
â€¦in the wake of major NCAA sanctions levied against UNC’s football program, followed by a separate academic scandal involving the African and Afro-American Studies Department, a storm still lingers.
“We had some major violations, and I thought when we got the final report [from the NCAA] in March, that would be the end of it,” said Cunningham, who was hired last October. “But the internal dialogue about how we’re going to balance academics and athletics has lasted a lot longer publicly than I thought.”
And for good reason.
Robbi goes on to recap what has happened and then discuss the NCAAâ€™s rule on academic fraud. She then cites some examples of â€œâ€™clusteringâ€™ of a high number of athletes in the same course or major doesn’t on its face break NCAA rules.â€
For example, the NCAA showed little interest when the Ann Arbor News reported in 2008 that 85 percent of 294 independent studies courses a Michigan psychology professor taught over a three-year period was comprised of athletes.
She then points out about UNC â€œmoving forwardâ€. HAHAHAHAHAâ€¦oh, thatâ€™s rich. Give me a minute to catch my breath after that one.
Jay Smith, a history professor at UNC who has been outspoken about his concern for academic integrity at the university, said in an email there’s no way the NCAA wants to look too closely at a situation like the one in Chapel Hill because “it exemplifies too vividly the hypocrisy on which big-time college sports is based.”
What Smith would like UNC to investigate, now, is how far back athletics counselors may have been steering athletes to questionable classes, and whether other departments might also be implicated.
“The University, I think, would like to pretend that all problems were introduced in the Butch Davis era,” said Smith in an email. “If there’s evidence that some of these strange courses were being scheduled and taken by athletes 10 or 15 years ago — and there have been some tantalizing hints in that direction â€“that would suggest a much more pervasive and ingrained culture of permissiveness and corner cutting, one that will take a great deal of work to uproot.”
What about basketball??
Meanwhile, basketball coach Roy Williams can’t shake media questions about his teams’ involvement in the questionable AFAM courses. Although the majority of the athletes in the suspect sessions were football players, 3 percent were men’s basketball players. Predating the four years covered in the internal investigation, seven of the players on UNC’s 2005 national title team graduated with a degree in AFAM, the Indianapolis Star reported in 2010. (That includes forward Sean May, who told the newspaper in that same article that after double-majoring in communications and AFAM, he dropped the communications part of his degree after going pro early because it would be easier to graduate sooner.)
The number of AFAM majors on Williams’ teams has decreased significantly since his first title. But the suspicions, especially among rival fans, still cling.
“I’m telling you, it is not an issue for basketball. It is a university issue; it is an academic issue,” Williams told ESPN.com recently when asked about the scandal again. “Nobody has come to me and said, ‘We have problems with basketball.’ In my opinion, we don’t, and I’m not going to use my time trying to find something that’s probably not there.”
Asked whether the NCAA took a specific look at the basketball program in regards to the questionable AFAM classes, Cunningham said he couldn’t speak to what the investigators were specifically studying.
“But my impression with the NCAA has always been [that] they are not sport-specific when it comes to a class,” Cunningham said. “It’s whether or not the issues were something that just involved student-athletes, or student-athletes and other students, and [whether the classes] were generally available to other students. The NCAA doesn’t look sport-specific on issues like that.”
Williams, for one, would like to look forward, not back. He said he’s been “disturbed” and “discouraged” by what has occurred, “but at some point it’s got to come to an end, and people have got to let us go on. â€¦ Mistakes have been made, [but] we’re making great steps to improve everything.”
Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.