The original Outside the Lines feature on Rashad McCants (ESPN):
The Flagship’s response (WRAL):
Leaders in the University of North Carolina athletic department closed ranks Friday after the latest attack on their academic integrity.
“With respect to the comments made today, I strongly disagree with what Rashad (McCants) has said,” Williams said in a statement Thursday. “In no way did I know about or do anything close to what he says, and I think the players whom I have coached over the years will agree with me.”
McCants’ 16 teammates signed a statement that said, “With conviction, each one of us is proud to say that we attended class and did our own academic work.”
McCants’ allegations are the first direct claim involving the Tar Heels basketball program and the 2005 National Championship team. The other UNC athletes on that team, and those who issued the statement were: Sean May, Jesse Holley, Melvin Scott, Raymond Felton, Charlie Everett, Reyshawn Terry, Jackie Manuel, Quentin Thomas, Jawad Williams, Wes Miller, Marvin Williams, Damion Grant, David Noel, C.J. Hooker and Bryon Sanders.
“Our personal academic experiences are not consistent with Rashad’s claims,” the statement continued. “We know that Coach Williams did not have any knowledge of any academic impropriety, and further that Coach Williams would not have tried to manipulate a player’s schedule.”
However, there is evidence that contradicts this collective statement.
Mary Willingham’s findings (N&O):
Rashad McCants was not the only UNC men’s basketball player from the 2005 national championship team who relied heavily on African studies classes that didn’t meet, according to whistleblower Mary Willingham, who tutored athletes during that period.
Data she provided to The News & Observer show that five members of that team, including at least four key players, accounted for a combined 38 enrollments in classes that have been identified as confirmed or suspected lecture classes that never met. The data also show that the five athletes accounted for 13 enrollments that were accurately identified as independent studies.
Don’t forget a 2010 Indianapolis Star report on The Flagship’s “clustering” (IndyStar.com):
North Carolina, which has the most Final Four appearances and players during the time measured, had the fourth-highest graduation rate of its Final Four players — 79 percent.
But the university’s graduates — and most notably its 2005 NCAA championship team — raise questions about “clustering.”
Simply put, clustering is when a high percentage of teammates receive the same degree. Among North Carolina’s graduates, communications and Afro-American and African studies stand out as the majors of choice.
From the 2005 team, all seven Tar Heels who graduated had the same major — Afro-American and African studies.
That includes Sean May of the Sacramento Kings, the Bloomington prep star and son of former IU star Scott May. Sean May entered the NBA after three years in college, capped by an NCAA title in 2005. He graduated last summer.
May said he started as a double major with communications, but dropped it so he could graduate faster after leaving for the NBA.
Afro-American and African studies, May said, offered “more independent electives, independent study. I could take a lot of classes during the season. Communications, I had to be there in the actual classroom. We just made sure all the classes I had to take, I could take during the summer.”
Otto, the head of the Drake Group, said her concern with clustering is that it raises questions about whether athletes are being directed to a path of least academic resistance.
“I’m fascinated at the longevity of North Carolina’s clustering,” Otto said. “It’s unbelievable.” Lennon of the NCAA declined to comment, saying it’s a campus issue.
John Blanchard, senior associate athletic director at North Carolina, said it’s reasonable that people in a peer group might gravitate to the same major. He said clustering “just doesn’t bother us here.”
“The question is whether they are getting a good education,” he said, “and the answer is a resounding yes.”
Who's zooming who '05 UNC team? There were at least six AFAM majors on the team and the school has admitted there were bogus classes then
— Joe Giglio (@jwgiglio) June 6, 2014
SFN agrees that McCants seems easily discredited, but the transcript speaks for itself. And SFN wonders, if McCants’ other teammates were so focused on academics, then how many of them either graduated or left UNC in good academic standing?
So Rashad McCants, of all people, became an overnight straight A student and dadgummit, no one at UNC wondered how? http://t.co/SHxoZn2Tci
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) June 7, 2014
Dan Wetzel (Yahoo!):
Another thing happened that spring, though. Rashad McCants, despite the grind of a lengthy NCAA tournament and a spring preparing for the NBA draft, came off a semester where he flunked half his coursework to post straight A’s in all four of his classes, winding up on the Dean’s List.
This would be considered the academic version of a No. 16 v. No. 1 upset. This was a guy who showed little interest in education, who was prickly and overconfident, and listened to almost no one even before he became a champion, at least according to the UNC basketball program itself. This was someone whose disposition and work ethic made scouts wary despite his prodigious talent even back in high school.
And then he miraculously became a dutiful and indeed perfect student during the one semester of college where it would actually be quite understandable if he didn’t work so hard since he was focused on the Final Four and the NBA draft.
Rashad McCants? Four A’s?
Williams denies that charge and denies knowing much about anything, which may or may not be true but certainly isn’t a surprise. Head Coaching 101 says deny everything. Always.
It doesn’t matter what anyone says though – not Williams and not even McCants.
The story is in the transcript, which ESPN says it has verified and UNC hasn’t taken issue with.
Rashad McCants – the Tar Heel player who demanded the most attention to remain on the straight and narrow, the Carolina star who was least likely to become a straight-A student – pulled off an all-timer of an academic comeback. Yet when the grades came through the system, apparently no one in the athletic department in general and basketball office in particular said, “wait, what?”
The issue with Roy Williams and a host of others in Chapel Hill isn’t even whether they knew McCants was effectively cheating during the spring of 2005. Yes, that’s a big charge McCants is leveling, but unless some old, incriminating emails are found, good luck with that sticking.
The deal is that when the grades came in, they didn’t immediately investigate how exactly this guy got them.
Did he indeed take no-show classes without their knowledge? Did he cheat on his own, maybe submitting someone else’s work? Was there a rogue professor out there? Was this a positive story – did a star tutor work with him, someone who clearly had a magic touch and deserved a promotion? Anyone? Anything? No curiosity?
If Roy didn’t know something was potentially problematic here, then maybe someone should look into his old UNC academic work because there is no way someone that clueless could have possibly earned a degree from such a fine university.
I mean, dadgummit. Rashad McCants? Four A’s? Ha.
Carolina fans can spend as much time as they want pointing to other players who say they did their own work, which is nice but not relevant to this case. They can blast McCants as a problem child and a liar and a rat and a desperate idiot who deserves the blame for blowing a great chance at an education.