It’s a surreal world we occupy when the N&O, Gregg Doyel and #WPN are all working together.
For decades we’ve endured the arrogant elitism of The Carolina Way, knowing it never passed muster. And now, after their precious creed has failed them, the UNC faithful have responded mostly with passive indifference and refused to be held accountable by the lowly among us. Instead of demanding better, they’ve lowered the standard — everyone does it, after all – and have become firmly entrenched in spin and lies, hopeful this nonsense will all just fade away. But hope isn’t a strategy, and those of us who’ve long-suffered the unflinching indignation by every bastard born and bred that The Carolina Way is a superior standard are unwilling to let this die easy.
We’re enjoying the journey, sure, but what exactly is the end game here? It’s a fair question and, well, perspective matters.
For the ever-inconsistent NCAA, fresh off its self-empowering ruling against Penn State, where its jurisdiction was questionable and due process was waived: continued avoidance of Pandora’s Box. After all, the NCAA will remind you that academic fraud at a member institution is outside its jurisdiction (except where Calipari is involved).
For lowly blogs like SFN: validation. And for the local, traditional media: renewed credibility. For nearly two years, citizen-bloggers and the lunatic fringe on message boards scooped the traditional media, which appeared overwhelmed by – and oft-indifferent to – the dynamic nature and real-time pace of the internet and social media. Every tweet by an athlete and every bumbling lie and errant comment by Baddour, Thorp & Co. was documented and scrutinized on blog posts and message boards. Through it all, UNC feigned cooperation and demanded we accept the results of their “review,” and then showed disdain when we wouldn’t. The more UNC folks said, the worse it got. SFN’s Old MacDonald, et al., kept the scandal on life support until the local and, eventually, finally, national media showed up. Once Dan Kane was unleashed, this journey found its flavor.
For Kane, who has morphed into one of those flying Great Whites off the coast of South Africa: legitimacy. Kane took momentum from Yahoo!’s Wetzel and Robinson on the football prongs, and tactfully charged onto the scene of academic fraud, where he started asking the questions other local media outlets wouldn’t dare. Turns out, he wasn’t the puppet to which the UNC Media Spin Machine had long-grown accustomed. Kane could soon capitalize on the opportunity with a best-seller and a career leap to a national outlet like the new NBCSN (you may recall the impossibly-intolerable Skip Bayless built his entire career off his coverage of the SMU scandal).
For State fans, who endured the despair of the 90’s as a result of self-sanctions from our own inept administration and the self-righteous punishment by the UNC Board of Governors: the reckoning. Witnessing the shame of asterisks going up and banners coming down over at The Flagship would be a momentous event for Our State. Jimmy V was vilified by the local media for far less; his crime: breaking “the spirit, not the letter” of the law by not knowing what was going on in his athletic department (background here). Unlike over in Chapel Hill, there was no institutional academic fraud, which, because of UNC’s possible violation of FERPA, we now know dates back to at least 1998, and possibly traces as far back as the early 90’s when the African & Afro-American Studies Department was created. We suffered mightily, and a decade of the Matt Doherty years is exactly what they deserve.
For the “Public Ivy” academics: restored integrity. Sure, it’s a simple reality that athletes everywhere have been taking easy classes since the ball was invented. And those of us who had to get by C-walls in Dynamics and Differential Equations aren’t suggesting those we root for on Saturdays must all pursue technical degrees. But there’s a Grand Canyon between easy courses and fake ones created solely to maintain eligibility for athletes who can’t pass a basic math course or get better than a D in basic English, Drama and Stagecraft. How do you get a diploma from a renowned university without passing a single math course? Think about it: the institutional fraud at UNC has effectively ensured that many of its student-athletes will be unemployable if they “go pro in something other than sports.” Yet, no one over there seems shamed by that.
And finally, for the scores of Carolina fans, Wal-Mart and alumni alike: some long-overdue humility.
Ok, maybe that last one is a bridge too far.