Brett Mills of Clemson’s Tiger News weighed in recently with an opinion piece on the ongoing NCAA investigation inquiry at UNC. Mills makes some excellent, salient points that are well worth reading and your consideration. While this may come as a huge surprise to our local sports radio contingent, NC State and its fans are not the only ones watching what’s going on over in Chapel Hill with great interest, nor are Wolfpack fans the only ones who are enjoying the manifest hypocrisy of the “Carolina Way”(tm) exposed for exactly what it is: a load of stenching, stinking, slimy rubbish.
Well done, Mr. Mills, well done indeed:
As a lifelong Clemson fan that was raised on tales from the program’s glory days in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, I absolutely love seeing both the Bulldogs and Gamecocks squirm under NCAA scrutiny. But nothing has satisfied me more than seeing NCAA investigators unearth the plethora of corruption within the UNC football program.
What initially began in late June with the NCAA notifying UNC officials that they were going forward with an investigation of football players receiving improper benefits has quickly morphed into what ESPN’s Joe Schad called an “extensive NCAA inquiry into the North Carolina football program.” It’s centered on the alleged improper benefits given to star defensive tackle Marvin Austin by an agent.
The investigation by both the NCAA and the university itself has since uncovered assistant coach John Blake’s collusion with sports agent Gary Wichard, resulting in the forced resignation of Blake two weeks ago. But most ironically for a university that prides itself on academic superiority, there are reports that nine Tarheel players have engaged in academic fraud by allowing tutors to write papers for them.
The NCAA has yet to hand down a ruling on the situation in Chapel Hill. In fact, the investigation could drag on for months or even years like the one at USC. Regardless of how bad things get for UNC, I urge you to not to waste a shred of sympathy on them. Their penalty will be just comeuppance for their decades of hypocrisy.
For those who are unaware as to why I would make such a harsh statement about the Tarheels, let me just say we Clemson fans have good reason to show the UNC football program the same amount of affection we would a cockroach. I’ll be the first to admit that Clemson was less than honest as a program in that late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Tiger players certainly received more than their share of improper benefits. In a response to rival fans heckling him about Clemson’s probation in 1983, star defensive tackle William “Refrigerator” Perry famously retorted, “Hey, we work hard for our money!”
While Clemson was certainly not alone in its… er… egregious cheating, we were the ones unlucky enough to catch the attention of the NCAA, thanks to some helpful tip-offs from UGA’s Vince Dooley and NC State’s Monte Kiffin. In 1982, the NCAA wasted no time in dropping the hammer on us. All in all, the sanctions spanned two years of scholarship reductions, a two-year bowl ban and a two-year television ban — a stiff punishment, but a just one.
It is at this point in the story that our self-righteous, baby blue friends from Chapel Hill decided to enter the fray. Joining forces with the athletic director from Duke, UNC athletic director John Swofford (yes, the one that is now ACC Commissioner. Don’t even get me started on that…) called a meeting between every ACC athletic director except Clemson’s.
In the meeting, Swofford stated that the sanctions the NCAA handed down to Clemson were not stiff enough and proposed a vote to extend Clemson’s probation from two years to three. All the schools present consented with the exceptions of Maryland and Wake Forest, who were appalled at the idea of further punishing a fellow conference member. The two schools’ representatives left the meeting in disgust when Swofford suggested that the votes remain anonymous.
In other words, when Clemson was enduring its lowest moment as a football program, UNC elected to pile on and kick the dog when it was down. And all the while, they passed themselves off as the morally superior ones. But the current academic scandal and NCAA investigation has now completely shattered that façade.
For a program that only deigned its nose at poor hillbilly Clemson and its renegade football program over the past couple decades, UNC now finds itself in no position to judge others. They have forfeited the right to condescend.
Mills, through recounting the history of the Tigers troubles, brings up an excellent point: where in the world is the ACC Commissioner? Is he mired in a bunker over on Grandover East, slashing away at his golf ball and unaware of what’s going on at his beloved alma mater? Or is he carrying water for UNC, staying quiet and hoping all of this blows over? My guess is that latter, because Swofford is living proof of ‘once a Carolina man, always a Carolina man.’
Either way, Swofford’s strange silence shows a lack of a moral compass from the ACC leadership, and by the utterly naked hypocrisy Mills recounts, it demonstrates once again to the other ten members of the league that there really is one ACC for UNC and Duke, and another ACC – aka “The Ten Dwarves” or “The Useful Idiots” - for the rest. Would Swofford have sit by the sidelines had these problems at UNC instead occurred at Clemson, or at NC State? Your guess is as good as anyone’s, but mine is that he would have plenty to say and quite often at that. After all, that’s exactly what his history demonstrates.