I always think it’s interesting that people claim NC State fans are so neurotic when it comes to their rivals, UNC. People like to claim, and some NC State fans have started to buy into it, that UNC doesn’t get any kind of special treatment. Of course not, it’s all in our heads! Luckily, recent events have given us a more solid metric to use to explain exactly why NC State fans are so convinced of the massive Carolina bias within the UNC School System and the state in general.
I wanted to compare a few items regarding the Carolina scandal with how NC State handled things back in 1989 and 1990. I don’t want to belabor the same-old arguments and conversations, but in light of last Saturday’s events, some thoughts came to mind.
NC STATE, Jan 1989 – Oct 1990
The offenses were a non-issue… athletically speaking. Regardless, NC State’s administration and BOT decided that this was a disgrace to the reputation of NC State to have players selling shoes and tickets. The result was NC State shooting itself in the foot with a two-year probation and not allowing their team to participate in the 1990 post-season. NC State acknowledged that they had done nothing wrong by virtue of the NCAA’s investigation, but that the players had acted unethically which required that they act to ensure their credibility as a respected institution continued. Whether you viewed the self-inflicted wounds as an unecessary crime against Jimmy Valvano and NC State athletics or not, you at least have to acknowledge that NC State was doing what it felt it could, at the time, to correct the corruption within their ranks.
The university system, at large, formed the Poole Commission found that Valvano had “violated the spirit, not the letter of the law.” In other words, Valvano didn’t actually do anything wrong, but he acted poorly. The university system decided that Jimmy Valvano could not provided needed oversight over his program which resulted in Jimmy Valvano being asked to resign. So in addition to what NC State did to themselves, the UNC School System decided it was necessary to get intimately involved with an issue that the NCAA had already ruled a non-issue and that NC State had already taken action to correct.
What’s even more shocking about this harsh punishment by the university at-large and the university system? NC State actually invited the NCAA to investigate them in the name of being open and honest regarding allegations against their program. In January of 1989, Athletic Director Jimmy Valvano and Chancellor Bruce Poulton sent a letter to the NCAA asking for the governing body to investigate the NC State program so they could be cleared. In other words, at the first sight of anyone accusing NC State of being a corrupt program, Jimmy Valvano wanted everyone to know that they had nothing to hide so they invited investigaters to Raleigh voluntarily. Despite being forth coming, NC State was still subjected to the multiple penalties handed down by the unversity in general and the UNC School System.
Let’s see how UNC is handling things and then compare the two.
UNC, Feb/Mar 2010 – Present
We have been reading for a year and a half about UNC’s handling of their multiple scandals (we are up to 40 or 50 prongs, right?). Let’s review how this has unfolded…
Rumor breaks of investigation… UNC denies any rumors.
Evidence found that Austin (and others) took trips and were buy goods with money that wasn’t theirs… UNC has no comment on the matter.
Reports of investigators visiting UNC campus… UNC denies any formal investigation is occuring.
Reports of connections between John Blake and NFL agents surfaces… UNC denies any formal investigation is occuring, but later on fires Blake.
Reports that 9 players had papers written for them by Butch Davis’ nanny surfaces… UNC finally admits there is an investigation, but holds a press conference with both the Chancellor, AD, and Davis to show the university’s support of the coach.
Marvin Austin gets suspended indefinitely… UNC conveniently finds the proof that there are traffic violations and vehicles that Austin owned. The fact that UNC only decided to release these papers AFTER he was suspended is… how long did they have these records BEFORE he was suspended?
- FOIA requests required a court to order UNC to comply… UNC releases partial information (with redactions).
Money trail between Associate Head Coach and agents released to public… UNC begins the “rogue coach” defense.
Media begins to question UNC and ask for interviews (July 2011)… UNC refuses to be interviewed.
UNC fires Butch Davis, Baddour agrees to resign, Thorp lives… UNC still claims that Davis didn’t know anything and this is a problem with rogue players (even though such a scenario would mean there is no reason to fire their head coach).
That’s just the brief summary of things that occured and UNC’s response (and I left a TON of details out). What have we NOT seen from the UNC investigation?
1) What NEVER occurred was for UNC to step up in the early spring of 2010, when rumors first broke, and publicly state, “These are the accusations against us… PLEASE come investigate us and clean this up!” (Recall, this is exactly what NC State did back in January of 1989 before an NCAA investigation had begun.)
2) What has NOT occurred is UNC acknowledge that something is going on. They have also never admitted that either they, or the university system, need to conduct their own internal investigation for the purpose of assessing potential further-reaching penalties against individuals within the university who may escape punishment from the NCAA. (Recall, both NC State AND the UNC School System investigated the NC State basketball program IN ADDITION to anything the NCAA did.)
COMPARING AND CONTRASTING PROGRAMS
What you have in NC State is a program that initially heard reports of wrong doing in their athletic program, responded immediately to clear it’s name, had a university adminsitration/BOT that felt strong enough about the unethical details of the case that they needed to punish themselves beyond what the NCAA found, and a UNC School System who was proactive and willing to investigate NC State, resulting in pressuring the program to “ask one of it’s best coaches to resign”.
Let’s contrast that with Carolina.
Carolina, according to the Notice of Allegations, had received reports of academic impropriety and willingly failed to check-up on these reports. There is also the issue that Marvin Austin was publicly posting, via twitter, his trips and gifts he was receiving and no one said a word from within Carolina’s walls. There’s difference #1 between NC State and Carolina: taking initiative to be honest with their fans, the public, and the acadmic institution, itself.
Carolina has also closed ranks throughout the investigation. Looking forward, it makes you wonder if Carolina has any intentions of even considering further punishments above-and-beyond what the NCAA deals out. The NOA already failed to mention the rumored “Loss of Institutional Control”, and many fans of Carolina and rivals alike are claiming that UNC will get off light. If us mere mortals realize this, doesn’t the Carolina administration and BOT realize this as well? I wouldn’t place any bets that Carolina will do any sort of self-investigation beyond what the NCAA gives them. There’s difference #2: NC State self-evaluated their athletic program to evaluate if any additional sanctions needed to be placed on the basketball team while Carolina is doing anything it can to downplay the importance of any one individual allegation.
The final difference between NC State and UNC I wanted to bring up was how the UNC School System has acted throughout this whole ordeal. There have been a couple of state officials speaking out, but for the most part we haven’t heard any plans for the UNC School System to support the creation of a state-appointed commission, similar to the Poole Commission, to investigate what Carolina did or didn’t do. If NC State had to be responsible to the tax payers via public commission, so does Carolina. There’s difference #3: NC State played by a set of rules that was founded under the auspice of being a responsible institution. A commission was put in place to determine if anything additional to what the NCAA and NC State, internally, had found. Does anyone seriously think that Carolina will be held to the same procedural standard?
Carolina is just “different” from NC State, athletically and administratively. For years, NC State has had to operate under a system built to put them at a disadvantage. Hell, from NC State’s beginnings they weren’t given any funding to hire faculty, and the relationship hasn’t sweetened much since then. That’s one thing, but when it comes to things that are unethical (gifts, parties, etc) and even illegal (unpaid parking tickets, switching plates on vehicles, etc), NC State is held to a standard where even if they do everything they can to be an open book to the NCAA and even if that investigation yeilds no violations, we must still self-inflict wounds that cripple our athletic program and allow the UNC School System to conduct further investigations “just to make sure we’ve been punished enough”. Show of hands: who feels like UNC is being held, and will be held, to the same standard. Anyone? Anyone!?
And THAT, my friends, is why NC State fans have every right in the world to be just a tad neurotic.
If you are interested in more history between UNC and NC State that explains why NC State fans have every reason to be pissed off at Carolina, you may want to check out my other article on UNC that explains the history in NC State’s founding and the resistance our beloved State College faced.