UNC Info Ministry: Thorp owes the public clarification on academics [3:20pm commentary]

If you’ve read SFN for any length of time, you’ve noticed that we are sticklers for the real truth, the whole truth, and an accurate and educated view of the truth.  With this said, I’m sure that you can recognize why the UNC athletics scandal and academic fraud cases are so fascinating to us.  Today, we’ve got another in a series of ‘questions’ that we wanted to make sure wasn’t overlooked in the public domain.

On September 23, 2010, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp responded to a list of questions presented by the News & Observer’s John Drescher on the previous Sunday.  The entirety of Thorp’s comments can be found here.  Specifically, I wanted to highlight the following:

7) Is UNC admitting more football players who don’t meet typical UNC admission standards than it did five or 10 years ago?

No. Since Coach Davis arrived, the average SAT for football has gone up 47 points.

There are actually TWO answers/items/issues here that need to be separated:

  1. Thorp clearly answers ‘NO’ to state a position that UNC is not admitting more football players who don’t meet typical UNC admission standards than five &/or ten years ago.
  2. Since Coach Davis arrived, the average SAT scores for football players have gone up 47 points.


Thorp’s comments didn’t square with some of the unverified information SFN has received regarding the academic prong of the current scandal as we have previously heard that an astronomical number – something along the lines of 45% to 50% – of Butch Davis’ recruits have been admitted by ‘special committee’ (once referred to as “academic exceptions” until Carolina hilariously did away with that designation years ago.)  It isn’t/wasn’t hard for us to believe those ‘rumors’ in light of the embarrassment of the Dwight Jones recruitment and some of the information that has dripped out related to the academic strength of some other UNC players (that we will leave nameless for the sake of respect). 

(1) Thorp: UNC is not admitting more football players who don’t meet typical UNC admission standards than it did five and/or 10 years ago.

Fantastic.  Prove it.  This can’t be hard or a major issue for Carolina.  UNC obviously has the data available to answer the question as Thorp included this answer in his letter within three days of the publishing of Drescher’s questions.  Thorp and UNC have chosen to open this door and address this issues – so, address it.  What are the numbers of special academic admissions compared to those of five years ago and ten years ago? 

Let’s not play the game of selecting the admissions information of a single year and compare it to a previous year. Obviously, the spirit of Thorp’s comments lend one to believe that in the four years of Davis’ tenure the number of exceptions are less than the previous rolling four year period and/or the prior rolling four-to-five year periods.

This can’t get more simple or more valuable for UNC.  Why wouldn’t all UNC fans and employees not want the specifics of this information in the public domain since it paints Coach Davis and the program in such a positive light? 

Media, where are you?

(2) Thorp: Since Coach Davis arrived, the average SAT scores for football players have gone up 47 points

I ask that you take a look at this entry that we ran earlier in the week focused on this year’s freshman class at NC State.  Read the comments section for some fantastic conversation, and education…but also to get updated on some changes in the scoring of the SAT of which you may not have previously been familiar. In short: a ‘writing’ section was added to the SAT in 2005 that served to raise the maximum score from 1,600 points to 2,400.

For the record – Butch Davis was hired at UNC on November 13, 2006.

I’m sure that anyone with a mathematically strong degree from NC State can see where I am going with this.  For those of you who majored in “Curry Math”, allow me to continue:

  • when Butch Davis was hired as football coach the five recruiting classes comprising the Tar Heel roster included four years of SAT scores on a 1,600 point scare and one year of SAT scores on a 2,400 point scale. 
  • Today, the entire roster of five recruiting classes is comprised of a 2,400 point scale.

…yet, Holden Thorp and the folks at UNC are promoting that the team’s SAT scores are up a whopping 47 points while the grading scale of the test rose by 800 points (or 50% of the previous maximum score).  WOW!  Surely we are missing something here?  And, surely Thorp and UNC didn’t intentionally leave out the relevant and important impact that the change in the SAT’s scoring would have on this comparison?

I readily admit that the previous analysis could be incorrect.  Thorp may have meant something different from what he said.  But, this is exactly what he stated in his letter… and is all of the information that we have at our disposal on the topic.  So, how about clarifying the record?  How about some sharing with the taxpayers of the State of North Carolina?  Again, Thorp/UNC chose to answer these questions and obviously have the information at their disposal to carlify the answers with specifics.

Mainstream media, where are you on this stuff?  Dave Glenn, Adam Gold, Joe Ovies, Taylor Zarzour and the rest of the Raleigh Radio Brigade – you have Dick Baddour on your show at least once a week.  This can’t be that controversial of a topic since Thorp had no problem addressing it (with no supporting data) in his letter to the N&O.  How about getting us clarity on this?  News & Observer?  Charlotte Observer?  Any other Observer?  We’ve done the math for you.  We’ve done the work for you…how about getting us some specific answers?


SFN Comments (2:45pm):
I wanted to highlight this link to some fantastic work done by the Daily Tar Heel on this issue. It provides some insight into the conversation, but it unfortunately does not give us the specifics we seek related to football and an attempt to quantify Thorp’s comments by comparing the aggregate of the Butch Davis’ years to previous five year periods in recent Carolina history.

Upon further review of a very confusingly laid out graphic, it appears that the article does not specifically discuss the number of football players that have been admitted as ‘committee cases’. The University appears only interested in the overall number of athletes without providing specifics of the football program.

The University is making fewer exceptions for student athletes whose high school academic records don’t meet minimum admission requirements.


This year’s freshman class includes 14 athletes who were granted admission under the exception process. About 30 were being granted a decade ago, he said. Most “committee cases” — those that come before faculty seeking an exception — are football players.

So, our point remains – we’d would love some clarity on the issue and also would love to know what percentage of overall admissions is an acceptable number to qualify for upholding ‘The Carolina Way’? Since Carolina is not just any other school; and is, by its own decree a ‘Public Ivy’…what number/percentage of academic exceptions for the football program is acceptable?

Once Thorp shares with us the number of academic exceptions playing for Butch Davis, pleas stay tuned for one our future pieces on how many of these academic exceptions have ever been ineligible for game participation because of academic reasons? We’ll run it in tandem with a look at how a student who scores one-point away from having ‘literacy problems’ can remain academically eligible at a “Public Ivy” for his entire career?


NCStatePride Edit: As some of our posters pointed out, the discussion of a 2400 point SAT scale to the Thorp referenced 1600 may be a moot point.  Still, questions remained unanswered by Thorp and untouched by the media:
(1) What average is this “47 point rise” compared to?  The average of the team since 1996 when the SAT was re-adjusted to make 500-500 “average” or the average under the previous coach?  “Average” is a sneaky word and is rendered useless unless scoped properly. 
(2) You get practically 200 points for submitting a blank test form… what point was Thorp trying to make touting a 47 point increase in the first place?  Also, is this 47 point increase the result of higher standards or the result of well-documented grade inflation?
(3) Why hasn’t the media been all over these issues?  Our favorite local sports-talk radio hosts love to nit-pick every little thing printed on some blogs and message boards, yet they don’t want to pick up on obviously vauge items such as there? Where is the risk-taking and enthusiasm to attain a more detailed and specific version of the whole truth? The specifics in this piece by StateFans are one thing, but the surprising (or perhaps unsurprising) ‘looking the other way’ by the media is just intolerable. 

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UNC Scandal

57 Responses to UNC Info Ministry: Thorp owes the public clarification on academics [3:20pm commentary]

  1. Mike 10/07/2010 at 11:36 AM #

    Will you guys stop looking at details and just let this thing die? He said it, I believe it, and that settles it. Move on now, nothing to see.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Please someone give these guys a shovel. They are in the hole, and maybe that shovel will help.

  2. Phang 10/07/2010 at 11:39 AM #

    I hate those 1600 point scares 🙂

    (just sayin’)

  3. JeremyH 10/07/2010 at 11:45 AM #

    You guys should request an interview with Thorp….also what does SFN need to do to get media credentials and get seating at pressers and such?

  4. Skoll 10/07/2010 at 11:46 AM #

    Hilarious and sad at the same time. Also on point one, Thorp can be telling the truth while lying at the same time. If he decided to be strict in his definition of 5 or 10 years ago and not accepting the question at face value. If he pulled from 2000 and 2005 only and those two years had higher incidents of academic entries than 2010, then he is technically correct. But if he were to pull a full four year rolling average, that statement may no longer be true. The question needs to be asked more pointedly.

  5. NCStatePride 10/07/2010 at 11:50 AM #

    There is a possibility that they are eliminating the open-ended essay portion of the SAT. Many accredited institutions actually only ask for your math and reading portions of your SAT so Thorpe could be stating that out of the 1600-point scale, the players are scoring higher.

    …then again, per their own website Carolina does require the writing comprehension part of the SAT. If Thorpe really did mean “scores have risen out of 1600”, I would be interested to know how their writing portions pair up with other athletes at other institutions.

    Might want to add something about that to this blog post, IMO.

  6. rtpack24 10/07/2010 at 11:50 AM #

    Dwight Jones was not eligible to go to any D-1 school and then all of a sudden his transcript is reviewed by JNC and then he is admitted to school. Wonder if the NCAA is looking at any of these type of unbelievable occurences.

  7. pman27 10/07/2010 at 11:53 AM #

    To paraphrase Steven Colbert, you and your fact based agenda!

  8. PackHooligan 10/07/2010 at 11:58 AM #

    I am amused by the fact that his citing of the SAT “fact” has absolutely nothing to do with the question. The question asks for the number of players, not some other metric that could be skewed by changing test scores (the new writing section as well as score “inflation”) or by a few high achieving walk-ons.

  9. WolfpackCoach17 10/07/2010 at 12:02 PM #

    Just as a reference, athletes and the sliding scale for the NCAA clearinghouse still work on the 1600 point system. The creative writing section is essentially ignored when it comes to getting cleared by the clearinghouse. So in general for athletics, the 1600 point scale is what is referenced, and my guess would be that Thorp’s comparison would be on the 1600 scale

    Of course, the SAT system was re-centered in 1995/1996, because the goal was for 500+500=1000 to be the average score. That move essentially added 70-80 points to verbal and about 20-30 points to math. The Clearinghouse altered it’s low bar from 700 to 820. So any comparison of current numbers to pre-1996 is apples to oranges. (It’s impossible for us to know if Thorp is using some average that includes pre-1996 numbers, because if he is, then he is definitely skewing the truth)

    With all that said though, the 1600 vs 2400 argument is probably irrelevant for this discussion.

    You guys still do great work. Just wanted to put the SAT facts out there.

  10. Khan 10/07/2010 at 12:03 PM #

    Mold and Blovies aren’t going to ask any tough questions about UNC, so you can just forget about that. Neither is Glennda.

  11. Plz2BStateFan 10/07/2010 at 12:14 PM #

    I think the overall national average SAT scores have been going up by them selves anyway. If UNCs did go up it could just be the norm.

  12. WolfOG 10/07/2010 at 12:14 PM #

    So here’s where we have progressed on the journalistic (Local edition) hierarchy of investigatory questioning:

    1) UNC: “Press release and/or spinned response to the latest bag of money/phone record/phony english paper”

    2) Local Journalist: “There’s not anything wrong going on here, is there?”

    3) UNC: “No. And please take a basketball media guide on your way out”

    4) Local Journalist: “Oh, ok! thanks..”

  13. ShavlikLeague 10/07/2010 at 12:16 PM #

    Yeah…a lot of us are engineers here, Thorp. And you’re a business man when it comes down to it. What’s this “average” crap? That’s one of the oldest political maneuvers in the book. We want mean and median data and we want it now!

  14. baxter 10/07/2010 at 12:18 PM #

    Man, the typos in these articles are meant to be ironic right?

    “Holden Thorp and the folks at UNC are promoting that She team’s SAT scores”

    Pride: Edits made. Sometimes as we try to give you guys first-look at what is going on in and around NC State, we only have so much man-power to read and edit posts. We appreciate everyone’s support as we try to keep our fellow Wolfpackers on the cutting edge of NC State news and information.

    But I suppose you are right. Afterall, after UNC’s football program implodes, UNC fans will probably spend their time correcting our spelling since they won’t have a sports team to watch.

  15. Plz2BStateFan 10/07/2010 at 12:23 PM #

    Perfection is not required!

  16. whitefang 10/07/2010 at 12:43 PM #

    I think whether UNC is admitting more football players that don’t meet typical UNC admission standards as they did pre-Davis is both hard to prove and easy to twist the numbers to deny – ie the changes in the SAT scoring for example. In any case it is just window-dressing to the scandal.
    Without the real scandals of agents in the henhouse and tutors writing players papers this would be irrelevant because they could always claim they did so in the interest of diversity, etc.
    What is clear is that UNC is hiring football coaches that don’t meet typical UNC standards. The ones that hired and/or approved them are trying to twist any numbers they can to defend said hirings.
    The defense of Davis I believe will soon change. What I think is going on is that Davis is toast, and they are in the process of trying to get him to agree to some buyout that keeps his mouth shut and keeps Thorp, Baddour et al from getting thrown out on their asses along with him.

  17. VaWolf82 10/07/2010 at 12:51 PM #

    To me, the point of the piece has nothing to do Blake, Davis, Austin, Freak ’em dresses, Rolex watches, or agents. This piece simply goes to the integrity of the people that are in charge of conducting an investigation into academic fraud AND in charge of the university.

    To be more blunt, how can you possibly trust someone on an issue you can’t verify AFTER you know that they will lie about things that you can verify.

  18. packof81 10/07/2010 at 12:58 PM #

    “How about some sharing with the taxpayers of the State of North Carolina.”

    Yeah. How about some accountability. In this time of recession and austerity, it’s asking a lot to go hat in hand to the taxpayers asking for more taxes and/or tuition increases with a scandal like this stewing. In return, lets have some transparency.

    “Please someone give these guys a shovel. They are in the hole, and maybe that shovel will help.”

    They don’t need another shovel. There’s already 3 of them down there digging like crazy. That’s their problem. The tarholes just keep on digging that hole deeper.

  19. bradleyb123 10/07/2010 at 1:00 PM #

    Man, the typos in these articles are meant to be ironic right?
    — Posted by baxter

    Even with the typos, SFN is still doing a better job of investigative journalism than our local media.

    To be more blunt, how can you possibly trust someone on an issue you can’t verify AFTER you know that they will lie about things that you can verify.
    — Posted by VaWolf82

    Well said. Absolutely. What I’d like to know is, do they really think everyone is so dumb that they won’t be found out? Or is it a case of lying enough about something and eventually people will begin to believe it? Or is it just the most extreme level of arrogance we’ll ever witness?

    A prime example is how Blake (via his Lawyer) tried to say that the wire transfers from Wichard happened before he was hired at Carolina. Did he fail to realize that bank records are set in stone, and the dates of transactions do not change? That was probably the most easily verifiable information that has come out in this whole scandal, and yet they lied about it anyway.

  20. Alpha Wolf 10/07/2010 at 1:08 PM #

    ^ They are lying to their own audience, who laps up everything they say as if it were chiseled into Moses’ tablets.

    The rest of us, you know, the folks who live on Earth and not the Planet Chapel Hill, can easily see through their PR and BS.

    As I have said many times, until Chapel Hill makes drastic changes in personnel and methods, I will not believe them for one second about their “being serious” about cleaning up over there.

  21. StateFans 10/07/2010 at 1:26 PM #

    I apologize for any typos in the piece. I was writing this in a hurry based on a pending lunch appointment. I will try to clean up this afternoon.

  22. Pack05 10/07/2010 at 1:36 PM #

    What are the numbers of special academic admissions compared to those of five years ago.

    That’s really all that needs to be said and what should be asked. It should not be that hard to provide or access those numbers.

  23. Pack05 10/07/2010 at 1:38 PM #

    You can fudge averages and total SAT points all day long. How many people did you have to make an “exception” for?

  24. lanceaboil 10/07/2010 at 1:45 PM #

    Thorp: “UNC is not admitting more football players who don’t meet typical UNC admission standards than it did five and/or 10 years ago.”


    It’s not a lie if it’s the truth. Just because they are admitting a ridiculous amount of exceptions currently doesn’t mean that they weren’t also admitting a ridiculous amount “five and/or 10 years ago.”

  25. packof81 10/07/2010 at 1:58 PM #

    “Is UNC admitting more football players who don’t meet typical UNC admission standards than it did five or 10 years ago?”

    This question was loaded in Carolina’s favor and it’s truly remarkable how much parsing is required of Thorp’s response.

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