Roy Williams, 3 percent, and Swahili

In the past week, the News and Observer has dropped the academic bomb on the University of North Carolina. An investigation into the African and Afro-American studies classes from 2007-2011 showed the following:

There were 686 enrollments for the 54 suspect classes. Of those, football players accounted for 246 of the enrollments, or 36 percent, while basketball players accounted for 23 enrollments, or three percent, according to UNC. Together, football and basketball players accounted for 39 percent of the enrollments.

Football and basketball players account for less than one percent of the total undergraduate enrollment – about 120 of the more than 18,500 undergraduate students on campus. On the other hand, many of the suspect classes were held in the summer, a time when many football players are on campus.

When this article went public, especially the 3% basketball number, everyone knew that Roy Williams would be asked about it. And he was. Here is what he said:

North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams on Tuesday defended his players who were enrolled in classes at the center of an internal university investigation of academic fraud and improprieties.

“The players were eligible to be enrolled in those classes, as were non-student-athletes, and they did the work that was assigned to them,” Williams said through an athletic department spokesman.

As Robbi Pickeral of stated in her UNC blog:

North Carolina coach Roy Williams said through a team spokesman Tuesday that he is not concerned that basketball players made up about 3 percent of the students enrolled in classes in which an internal school review found unauthorized grade changes and little or no instruction by professors.

Nobody in Chapel Hill publicly is concerned about how this affects the cash cow, the men’s basketball team. Why would they be when everyone takes the 3% number at face value? But is that a valid number based on a more appropriate sample size?

Anyway, let’s dive a little deeper into the 3%. The News and Observer stated that there are around 18,500 undergraduate students. Of the 686 students in the 54 affected classes, 23 were basketball players. This works out to a little more than 3%. But take a step back and you can see that the 3%, although factually legitimate, is misleading. But what percentage of basketball players were in one of the questionable classes?

We know that 23 basketball players took one of these classes. We do not know if that means that 23 players each took one of these classes or if some basketball players took multiple classes. My educated guess is that at least one player took multiple classes. So we will break this down in several different percentages of basketball players to get a better gauge on what the true percentage of basketball players are that took one of these classes. There are a few facts that we need to introduce now.

1. From 2007-2009, there were 32 basketball players that were on the roster
2. From 2007-2012, there were 45 basketball players that were on the roster
3. Of the 45 basketball players, 29 of these players were consistently in the rotation to my knowledge. The other 16 basketball players were what UNC has routinely called the Blue Team.
4. All but 2 of the 54 questionable classes took place between 2007-2009.
5. I chose every odd number of players taking at least one of the classes. This makes the below graphs more readable.

Let’s assume first that there were basketball players in the questionable classes that were taught from 2007 through 2011.

This indicates that from 2007-2012, anywhere from 2.22% to 51.11% of basketball players took one of the suspect classes.

Next, since all but two of the questionable classes were taught from 2007 to 2009, let’s assume that all of the classes that had basketball players enrolled were taught in this shorter time span.

This indicates that from 2007-2009, somewhere between 3.13% to 71.88% of basketball players took one of the suspect classes.

So if it is really is 3% as Coach Williams says, then he thinks that all of these classes were taken by one basketball player. Really Roy?

One note: Without knowing which basketball players specifically were the “23,” we cannot say with certainty say that these below examples were Swahili courses taken during the summer or during the regular academic school year.

1. We all know that Will Graves took Swahili, albeit not well as he reportedly failed the course.

In addition, his academic track record was often less than sparkling as well. As one former teammate noted: “I think he failed Swahili. Everyone on the team takes that class and I’m pretty sure Will was the first one to fail.”

2. Tyler Hansbrough took Swahili 3 times.

“Sijambo!” he said. “That’s ‘good morning.’ I wouldn’t say I’m ready to go to Kenya right this minute, but I know a little something or two.”

3. John Henson on Twitter:

My bad y’all Swahili… Lol

These are previous North Carolina basketball player(s) examples of taking Swahili:

1. A Marine who graduated from North Carolina around the year 2000 said this of the correlation between Swahili and the basketball team:

Barcott was nearing graduation at UNC Chapel Hill and committed to joining the Marines. But as he’d soon discover, something would happen on the way to war.

“I was fortunate enough to take Swahili classes with the starting lineup of the men’s basketball team at UNC. That was quite an experience,” he said.

2. Melvin Scott was named to the Academic All-ACC team in 2005. He got his degree in African Studies.

3. Per the announcement of a possible SBI investigation into the academic fraud at UNC, we listed out a select group of UNC graduates with a common major:

George Lynch
Derrick Phelps
Cliff Rozier
Donald Williams
Jeff McInnis
Jerry Stackhouse
Vince Carter
Antwan Jamison
Ed Cota

The quick answer: All of these guys majored in African American studies per the UNC Basketball Media Guides provided online, and all of them played basketball for UNC prior to the years analyzed in the internal AAS/Swahili investigation.

To take the next step, from 1987-2001, there were 42 UNC graduates that played pro basketball.

Of those 42, 30 played in the NBA and the other 12 played in the CBA or overseas.

14 of the 42 players majored in African and Afro-American studies.

After looking at all of this information, should the public believe the 3% number is the only thing you need to know? Should Roy be concerned? Is there some sort of systematic way of making sure that the better basketball players are steered toward this major?

This is definitely an issue that cries out for an independent investigation. Let’s hope the SBI takes the lead in this.

About ruffles31

1996 NC State graduate who is still waiting on his first ACC conference championship in any of the four main revenue sports (football, men's basketball, women's basketball, and baseball) since enrolling. All I want is a ACC Champions t-shirt.

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Home Forums Roy Williams, 3 percent, and Swahili

This topic contains 23 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  baxter 4 years, 4 months ago.

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    In the past week, the News and Observer has dropped the academic bomb on the University of North Carolina. An investigation into the African and Afro-
    [See the full post at: Roy Williams, 3 percent, and Swahili]



    Nice Ruffles, I pointed this out on the first day it came out how misleading that 3% number is, and why I was surprised no one followed up with that possibly being an overwhelming majority of the team.



    That was “way too confusing” for a Hole grad or fan…Don’t confuse them with statistics and facts.

    "Whomp 'em, Up, Side the Head"!



    I’d be more worried about confusing them with the facts.



    The N&O only addresses basketball and football; how many other “student” athletes from other sports were taking these classes? That 39% figure of athletes taking those classes may shoot up significantly if you look beyond just the two sports. If say 65% taking these courses were athletes, that’s an extremely large percentage compared to the student body and is major indicator that the whole department was giving preferential treatment to athletes. As if we don’t already know that’s the case…



    Someone should ask ol’ Drew R. what he thinks about about that, Triad.

    Nice work with the numbers, Ruffles. It’s interesting that this is the BEST CASE SCENARIO for UNC Basketball and the Swahili prong. This is assuming all unknown facts in their favor. Reality is probably somewhere far from “in their favor.” However, until more transparency is known, this is the best possible assumption.

    Again, with misleading information such as “3%” out there, an independent investigation is absolutely 100% necessary.



    Maybe basketball and football players only make up a small percentage the total number of students that took the class, a very high percentage of players on those teams took the class, if that makes sense.


    If is is found that basketball players were on the receiving end of grade changes, and/or got credit for courses with no professor, and they played even just one second of a game; doesn’t that make them ineligible? Then, is UNX looking at vacating wins, final fours, and championships? Or, is this no longer a concern for the NCAA? Or does it become a concern with them again if the SBI investigates and finds wrong doing?


    WV Wolf

    Very nice work.



    In addition to looking at the numerator of the equation, consider the denominator as well. The undergraduate population may be 18,500, but what was it for summer school, when most of these classes allegedly occurred? Fastest relevant figure I could find (from the UNC web site) was 8500 in 2006, and that may include grad students. Damn cheaters even cheat at reporting on their own cheating.



    If the statistics are correct and the vast majority of the students taking these courses were non-athletes, then don’t we as the lunatic fringe have a duty to find some of theses non-athletic swahili educated individuals and get some info? There must be thousands out there.



    Very good point, Gumby. Very good point.



    Great work.



    Swahili is just the tip of the iceberg here. The walls are really going to come down when someone starts digging into the Pig Latin classes.



    This is an excellent post, but I’d like to respectfully request a correction. You stated “1. A soldier who graduated from North Carolina around the year 2000…”

    Could you edit to change the word “soldier” to “Marine”, or even “servicemember”? I know it might seem like a minor distinction to the uninitiated, but to Marines, it’s an error of no small significance.

    No disrespect to our soldiers intended. It’s somewhat like calling them sailors, or vice versa. Quite frankly, I wish it weren’t a Marine that took this idiot course.

    Many thanks.


    Pack Mentality

    I didn’t think the 3% meant the percentage of the team. It was the percentage of the class. 3% is 50 times greater than the basketball players make up in the student population. That is where the discrepancy in appreciation of the 3% number by the masses lies.



    ^Paramarine, will do. My apologies. I appreciate and respect what you do for our country.



    Thanks for the quick response – though I must admit that my USMC days are distant history.



    I wonder when UNC says 36% football, 3% basketball, 19% Olympic Sports. Ok, I get that. UNC then claims the rest were not student-athletes. Ok, what were they?

    Where they volunteers for various teams? student managers? otherwise involved in the athletic programs and departments? I would love to know the answer to that question. My guess is of the remaining non-athletes, a good portion of them are indeed involved in the athletic programs at UNC.



    ^Interesting question PackMan. I hope someone explores and reports on that.



    Occupy Swahili: We are the 3%



    The remaining non-athlete students enrolled were all the tutors



    Roy Williams is a PRICK!!!



    State73, you keep that up and we’ll have to change your user name to “Captain Obvious”

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