As North Carolina academic scandal deepens, all eyes on Mark Emmert

So while Mr. Big Stick thumped his chest about Penn State—before and after delivering the sanctions—we haven’t heard squat from him about what will become the worst infractions case in the history of college sports. And that was before the latest mind-numbing details released Monday by the News & Observer: the gross case of academic fraud could go back a decade—and include North Carolina’s legendary men’s basketball program.

The national attention growing behind the NCAA’s silence in the UNC-CH academic fraud case and cover-up continues to grow. One day, the UNC Board of Governors may actually wake up. Until then, we have The Sporting News.

When he announced crippling sanctions against Penn State, when he stuck the governing body’s nose in a legal action, Emmert made it clear that he alone had been given power to ignore due process and NCAA bylaws to protect “the foundation of amateur sports.”

Meanwhile, in Chapel Hill, N.C., the entire university is complicit in a systemic charade of bogus, no-show classes for athletes; a scheme that—you’re gonna love this part—the NCAA missed while investigating North Carolina over the past two years.

Fortunately, the man with the Big Stick has the Raleigh News & Observer doing the heavy lifting, exposing the real threat to the foundation of intercollegiate athletic sports. Or as my athletic director friend said, “Pandora’s Box.”

From 2007-2011, an internal review at UNC revealed 54 no-show classes in the Department of African and Afro American Studies where student-athletes were given grades for fake classes. The university says two department heads were responsible for the academic fraud, but the News & Observer says evidence suggests athletes were steered to classes by academic counselors assigned to the athletic department.

Think about that: the athletic department and a department of academics conspiring to keep students eligible so they can play games. This isn’t high school, everyone. This is one of the most respected academic institutions in the world cheating to keep athletes eligible.


But there’s no avoiding academic fraud; no escape from what it exposes and how it jeopardizes the lifeblood of a multi-billion dollar, tax-exempt industry. There’s no denying the reality that if this unthinkable case of academic fraud is happening at North Carolina, where else is it hiding?

Quotes of Note UNC Scandal

36 Responses to As North Carolina academic scandal deepens, all eyes on Mark Emmert

  1. golf76 08/13/2012 at 1:49 PM #

    UNC just keeps on leading with their face! Where are the state government investigative agencies and the responsible political leaders (Oops, sorry for the oxymoron “responsible political leaders.”

  2. packof81 08/13/2012 at 2:08 PM #

    “Where are the state government investigative agencies and the responsible political leaders …”

    Where indeed. Where is the NCAA? Where is the ACC? Where is the BOG? Where is the BOT? Are all of them complicit in this scandal too? It’s kinda looking like they are. Either they’ve been looking the other way or they’re in on it too.

  3. Wufpacker 08/13/2012 at 2:11 PM #

    “This is one of the most respected academic institutions in the world ….”

    not anymore

  4. Wufpacker 08/13/2012 at 2:25 PM #

    “The only troubling part is that North Carolina might have been doing the same shell game with classes since even before the Butch Davis days. Carl Torbush was Peppers’ coach, with John Bunting coming through before Davis. And if this transcript shows anything more than just a decade-early coincidence, it might be a little harder to blame Davis’ crew alone for the potpourri classroom disaster that unfolded.

    Much more horrifying for UNC faithful, the story could also follow Peppers over to the basketball side. His presence meant almost as much to basketball coaches Bill Guthridge and Matt Doherty as it did to the football team, and whether his coaches in either sport knew the particulars of his classwork, both were pushing to keep him eligible.

    That’s speculation, but if a basketball school deployed an academic scandal strictly for the sake of its mostly limp and accomplishments-free football program, well that’s just plain doin’ it wrong.”

  5. 66pack 08/13/2012 at 2:30 PM #

    Seems the SBI and FBI should be involved for there must have been the misuse of state and federal funds involved in paying for bogus classes -but only when hell freezes over. And where are the BOG members who are not U of Chapel Hill alumni.

  6. OAB 08/13/2012 at 2:40 PM #

    The NCAA’s stance that this is a university issue and not an NCAA one boggles the mind. So let me get this straight, schools are free to set up fake classes to keep athletes eligible, so long as regular students are allowed to take the fake classes too? Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

  7. primacyone 08/13/2012 at 2:55 PM #

    I only see two options.

    The NCAA has to step in on the academic investigation side and actually do something serious.


    They have to remove themselves with all regard from anything at all related to academics – APR, High School approval, etc.

  8. eas 08/13/2012 at 3:01 PM #

    So the NCAA has the right to punish a program (PSU) that had a Perv Coach & who’s actions did not relate to the student athletic program but cannot punish a school (UNC) who’s violation DIRECTLY relates to the athletic program? WTF! Makes perfect sense…..

    Now don’t get me wrong PSU deserves to be in some serious trouble but the NCAA over stepped its authority in several areas at PSU. Not the punishment but the punisher is what I have an issue with. I’m the mean time the NCAA says they have no say so in the academic issues at a university so long as the classes were open to everyone? The NCAA is worthless in basically every way. I have NO respect for the NCAA! They truly do not care about academics and how they are managed at schools.

  9. JSRy2k 08/13/2012 at 3:05 PM #

    Have any reporters successfully reached Dean Smith for comment?

  10. Wufpacker 08/13/2012 at 3:08 PM #

    ^ Funny you should say that. I was kinda wondering if Roy thinks it’s a basketball issue yet.

  11. WTNY 08/13/2012 at 3:08 PM #

    Have any rabid PSU friends?

    Let them know about this scandal and the NCAA’s inaction.

  12. packalum44 08/13/2012 at 3:29 PM #

    Isn’t Dean still on faculty at UNC? I’m pretty sure his dementia is so bad he’s practically incoherent, but the UNC BOT and BOG are giving him a run for his money.

  13. golf76 08/13/2012 at 3:41 PM #

    “I’m pretty sure his dementia is so bad he’s practically incoherent, but the UNC BOT and BOG are giving him a run for his money.”


  14. wilmwolf80 08/13/2012 at 3:58 PM #

    What we need now is a big time TV news show to run with some of this. I dunno, maybe on a network dedicated to nothing but sports…..(crickets)? That’s what I thought. Where is ESPN on this? If this isn’t “Outside The Lines” worthy, I don’t know what is. For years, people have made fun of us for speaking of a bias at that network, now it is as clear as ever. I guess we can turn in our tin-foil hats.

  15. Wufpacker 08/13/2012 at 4:00 PM #

    What’s really going to tick me off is if/when it is discovered that this “culture” of academic hijinks began prior to 1989. See what I’m saying?

  16. jrcox4 08/13/2012 at 4:22 PM #

    [sarcasm] Wuf, you’re not seriously suggesting that the fine institution did nothing hypocritical around the time of the NCAA investigation/Poole Comission here are you? Because that would be absurd with a men like and Smith at the helm.[/sarcasm]

  17. WilmyWolf 08/13/2012 at 4:23 PM #

    Wilmwolf (my long lost brother??), ESPN isn’t gonna run shiz. Company president is a UNC grad. Our best hope is one of the local news affiliates to do something, a la SMU. Maybe WRAL, since apparently they’re dropping viewers.

  18. 70wolf 08/13/2012 at 4:25 PM #

    Lets get Emmerts email up here and start the emails flowing

  19. packalum44 08/13/2012 at 5:43 PM #

    ^ Step ahead of you. I’ve been emailing him for a couple weeks now.

    [email protected]

  20. packalum44 08/13/2012 at 5:45 PM #

    Thanks for the prompt response Debbie, especially considering you are out of the office. Please know my email was partially tongue in cheek and copied to Mark Emmert and Dan Kane to make a point. Perhaps I can expand on that point and share with others who have a dog in this fight…

    Next headline suggestion for Dan: Is the NCAA Sending a Message to Member Institutions that Loopholes are there for the Taking?

    “It’s a sunny morning on the campus of the University of North Carolina. But at the Ernie Williamson Center, which houses the Tar Heels athletics department, a cloud won’t go away — even though it doesn’t look like the NCAA is coming back…Since it’s both students and student-athletes, we feel pretty confident that it’s not an [NCAA] issue. –North Carolina AD Bubba Cunningham…”

    How convenient Bubba. This, however, is undoubtedly a UNC System issue, so I have the utmost faith that the North Carolinian tax-dollar funded UNC BOG will uphold one of their basic duties and uproot athletic corruption and academic fraud. When I was in school, I was sincerely scared that I would be kicked out for cheating on an exam, much less for taking a fake class. Where are the grown ups???

    “Some employees don’t trust the university,” he says. “I don’t know why that is.” – Tom Ross

    Me neither Tom.

    “Since the start of NCAA president Mark Emmert’s tenure, he has been pushing for the acceptance of harsher penalties for NCAA violations. He’s talked often of changing the cost-benefit analyses that allow coaches and athletic directors to excuse rule-breaking…”

    One thing appears certain, the cost-benefit analyses has changed quite decisively….when there is NO COST, it becomes quite an easy exercise. Even someone with a faux college degree can understand that logic.

  21. packalum44 08/13/2012 at 5:46 PM #

    I took that gem from Tom Ross out of context, but it fit in nicely there, since I copied the BOG on it.

  22. golf76 08/13/2012 at 6:15 PM #

    “What we need now is a big time TV news show to run with some of this.”

    Mike Wallace might come back from the hereafter to do this story.

  23. highstick 08/13/2012 at 6:43 PM #

    Is the sky “Carolina Turkey Turd Brown” yet?

    Is this the “Carolina Way”?

    My best visual right now is “Jimmy V is somewhere running around to find another person to hug”! Is it Dan Kane? Or Manalishi?

  24. choppack1 08/13/2012 at 8:34 PM #

    When the Penn State verdict came down, this is exactly the hypocrisy I was talking about.

    While what Penn State did gave them an indirect competitive advantage – from simply keeping the Sandusky story out of the papers. What UNC has done for years, has given them a distinct competitive advantage.

    What has been happening in Chapel Hill is a much larger threat to athletic integrity and what the NCAA is all about than what happened at Penn State.

    Of course, as I have also stated earlier – UNC poses a huge problem for the NCAA since they’ve encouraged schools to graduate players and keep them eligible, and have doubled down on this stupid strategy. They’ve got enough $$ to insure that athletes are really learning, but they don’t want to…they know there’s much more to lose than the exposure that would result if we looked behind the curtain.

    Still waiting for a few more adults at Chapel Hill to step up. Jay Smith is one, and I think there are at least 2 or three others, but apparently that’s it. Of course, if you are really interested in substance over style, you probably never worked for a long time at UNC in the first place.

  25. blpack 08/13/2012 at 9:29 PM #

    Chop is all over it. UNC-CH lied to and played the NCAA to look like fools. Or did the NCAA gloss over the first investigation?

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