Here’s what the UNC System President had to say regarding accusations made against one of North Carolina’s flagship universities:
Athletics and academics are in tension by the nature of their time demands, but athletics and academics cannot be allowed to be in conflict in a great university. The evidence is clear that the academic processes and standards…have been misused in a number of instances to benefit some individual…players.
Problem is, these comments weren’t directed at a lack of academic and institutional oversight by the University of North Carolina or its coaching staffs. No, these were the comments made by former UNC System President C.D. Spangler regarding the investigation into academic impropriety within Jim Valvano’s basketball program, as reported by Duke grad and longtime area ACC sportswriter Barry Jacobs on August 26, 1989. More precisely, the quote is as follows:
Athletics and academics are in tension by the nature of their time demands, but athletics and academics cannot be allowed to be in conflict in a great university. The evidence is clear that the academic processes and standards of North Carolina State University have been misused in a number of instances to benefit some individual basketball players.
Spangler further added that the investigation revealed only that the “spirit, not the letter of the law” was broken regarding the accusations. Yet, he requested that Jim Valvano resign as State’s Athletic Director anyway. (We discuss more of Valvano and NC State’s ultimate exoneration in this editorial that cannot be missed and needs to be forwarded and sent all over the State of North Carolina):
Spangler’s report faulted Valvano for failure to provide adequate oversight of players’ academic progress and for encouraging course loads designed to maintain athletic eligibility rather than to form ”a coherent program of study.” Valvano was further criticized for recruiting players who had no reasonable expectation of graduation.
While the NCAA investigated NC State in 1989, the Poole Commission was formed and the Attorney General got the SBI involved to investigate potential financial infractions. Only minor infractions were found, namely the sale of shoes and game tickets by State basketball players, of which the coaching staff was found to have no knowledge. Yet, Jimmy V was vilified as evil incarnate for harboring an environment lacking oversight and control while the local media, the UNC Board of Governors, C.D. Spangler — and, unfortunately, many within the NC State community — spewed vitriol freely upon his name for it.
For the record, there were no implications of players cheating or improper assistance by any tutors at Jim Valvano’s NC State. There was no institutionalized cheating or academic fraud within the University. There was no grade-fixing. Players who did not deserve to matriculate or graduate were, in fact, not graduating and therefore not destroying the value of the diploma that so many hang so proudly. Nor were there accusations that agents were paying for players’ trips to Miami or California or funneling money through coaches to players.
And, most importantly, it seems that few folks recognize that every sanction leveled upon the State Basketball program was self-imposed by the University, and that the NCAA found this internal punishment satisfactory.
As I wrote on this blog in December 2008:
[T]he NCAA had been satisfied with the universityâ€™s internal corrective and punitive actions for the minor violations the Poole Commission had uncovered, which had included tighter restrictions over ticket and shoe distributions to players, limitations of off-campus recruiting visits, Valvanoâ€™s resignation as athletic director, and most crippling, a reduction in scholarships for three years. The NCAA also leveled the maximum two-year probation and barred State from participating in the 1990 NCAA Tournament…
One of the many questions that remains unanswered isn’t about the accusations, but rather the “review” itself. In 1989, the investigation was multi-faceted, including seperate inquiries by the NCAA, The Poole Commission, and also the Attorney General’s office into the University. So why is there no protocol for doing the same when accusations have been leveled against Carolina when, clearly, the precedent for this type of investigation exists?
State’s comparatively minor infractions and self-imposed sanctions left the program crippled, staggering along the ACC floor for a decade as it tried to recover.
Just imagine how bad it would’ve been if we’d done things “The Carolina Way.”