Dad asked me to watch the National Championship with him. Why I said ‘No.’

The text from my father on Sunday was almost a rhetorical question. “Want to come over Monday for the game?” My reply instead: “I actually thought about how I would answer this last night.”

My father graduated North Carolina in 1969. I graduated N.C. State in 1995. This has little to do with an interfamilial rivalry, though. I’ve watched Carolina basketball games with him, watched with him as Carolina beat State repeatedly, watched the few times we’ve gotten our revenge, no problems. He and I took in the national final last year, and Dad was the picture of grace in such a gut-wrenching defeat.

Still, as North Carolina’s academic dishonesty has gone so long without punishment, I felt like this was an appropriate time to make my contempt meaningful with more than words. It pissed Dad off. I saw the ellipses come up three times and go away with no reply when I ultimately refused to sit for tonight’s game and told him why.

“What happened between last year and this year?” he asked, somewhat blindsided.

Last year, I expected some kind of resolution by now, not another abuse of the process by North Carolina and a can kicked down the road so another Roy Williams superteam could find fulfillment on another Monday in another NFL stadium. As this case has lingered, I’ve seen a kind of performative shame develop, at least in the alumni still capable of shame, but it stops when you start talking about serious punishments. My brother (UNC ’93) is happy to cross out the 2005 and 2009 banners on his Facebook page, as if that means anything. To suggest something as reasonable as a single postseason ban, or that their basketball team does not deserve to be in this tournament, much less its championship game, is to be told to move on, or get over it. North Carolina is good at two things: basketball and telling other people their feelings. If Brainy Smurf and Lucy from Peanuts had sex, and the child was born out her rear end, you’d have a UNC fan for sure.

They also get very huffy when you point out the obvious most-favored nation status UNC has with broadcasters. Its continued eligibility is owed to its value as prime television inventory for the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference. That, and less a matter of school ties, is why ACC commissioner John Swofford infamously showed up at North Carolina’s hearing before the committee on infractions, in a show of support. The Tar Heels are a guaranteed revenue stream to the league every year they are eligible for the NCAA tournament.

Considering all this, I felt yesterday that the proper thing to do is to just not give the Tar Heels my eyeballs anymore. Not against State, not against anyone. Not the game tonight with my father after dinner.

So it’s the national championship. Oh, who gives a shit, really. UNC has just sucked all the intrigue out of college sports. They so plainly benefit from institutional favoritism, whether it’s the foot-dragging of the NCAA or the pro bono recruiting pitches from ESPN, that it isn’t even interesting to me anymore. This year’s final is an almost comical example of that. Not only is UNC still playing because the NCAA defers to its schedule and needs, UNC was the one emerging from a blueblood regional constructed to guarantee CBS a national program into the last weekend of the tournament. Sorry, Oregon, Sorry Gonzaga, I will now speak from the experience of several ACC tournaments. The Tar Heels will always be there to poach whatever you’ve worked for, like that asshole archaeologist in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Bringing up North Carolina’s dishonesty, privilege and inherited advantage usually guarantees a sneer from them about State’s mediocrity. I freely admit we have not been worth watching for much of the past 30 years. My time at N.C. State from 1991 to 1995 was the university’s worst four-year run in men’s basketball. No postseason, whatsoever. The NCAA bid taken for granted as a college experience at so many universities was not for us, thanks to the zealotry of the UNC Board of Governors, presented with a piss-ant treasury of nonscandals compiled by Peter Golenbock. It is no coincidence that State has not won a conference tournament, finished first in the league, or made an NCAA regional final since Valvano.

At the time, C.D. Spangler admitted that there was no proof of what Golenbock alleged and what everyone so breathlessly retailed. Still, like a parent’s phony claim of not wanting to spank a child, while doing it anyway, he said State had to be punished for violating the spirit of the law, because we used our curriculum to warehouse unworthy students and preserve their eligibility for performance in big-time basketball games.

Boy. Doesn’t that sound familiar 25 years later — except for the part where the Board of Governors, stacked with Chapel Hill diplomas, is silent on what its favorite children did for nearly two decades.

State got its nuts nailed to a log, I believe, out of institutional resentment that Jim Valvano could get so far with a predominantly black lineup, whose white stars were Italians from the northeast. The rosters of our glory days were decidedly not-UNC. No Steve Hales or Jeff Lebos there. So when I enrolled at N.C. State, we were saddled with the harshest eligibility standards of any school in the ACC, which took the few decent players we had out of action and even led to their transfer (Lewis Sims to New Orleans, Chuck Kornegay to Villanova, where both would later play in NCAA tournaments).

I was at N.C. State when Jerry Stackhouse of Kinston, rightly assessing the wreckage in Raleigh, reneged on State and enrolled at UNC. It was probably more pivotal in the two schools’ relationships than Phil Ford choosing Chapel Hill. I was at N.C. State for three of the five “Les Robinson Invitationals,” as was called the ACC Tournament play-in game when the conference expanded to nine teams. I was there when a couple of our starters were reportedly playing an intramural softball game hours before we lost to Florida Atlantic, then ranked dead last in RPI.

And I was at N.C. State in 1992, marching with students from UNC-Greensboro, N.C. A&T and Central, in solidarity with Chapel Hill undergraduates, to demand a free standing Black Cultural Center, and curriculum changes acknowledging the experiences of black students there. Had I known this would become the engine of the Tar Heels’ overwhelming competitive advantage for the next two decades, I would have stayed at home.

UNC employed a racially segregated system of dishonest courses in order to keep mercenaries like Sean May and lunkheads like Tyler Hansbrough available for practice and play. My favorite feature of this, one largely unremarked upon, is that UNC — which boasts of commissioning more naval officers than all but the Naval Academy‚ sent two white players over to an advanced weapons systems course for an easy A.

That was first reported more than four years ago, and it was just one detail in a scandal whose scope, intent and benefit to a revenue-generating program was easily provable then. State fans love to complain about what would be said or done if it was us; I actually wonder what we would be saying if this occurred at Duke, everyone’s favorite White Privilege punching bag. And it boggles my mind that a sports blogosphere capable of instant and constant outrage regarding any issue of gender inequity has expressed next to no contempt for an athletics department that blatantly threw its women’s basketball and soccer teams under the bus to save the men from punishment.

For more than five years now, the NCAA, through a credulous and despicable whitewash from former Gov. Jim Martin, and Kenneth Wainstein’s carefully manicured scolding (to which everyone nods — but not too hard, now) has done nothing meaningful. It has wrung its hands and whimpered and simpered about how difficult and messy and complicated and unprecedented this situation is. It’s so unprecedented!

Never mind the alacrity with which the NCAA has pursued errant strivers like Minnesota, Memphis State, Massachusetts and California, and unapologetic factories like Oklahoma and Florida State, who don’t have the protection of a U.S. News and World Report Top 25 ranking. Let’s not forget how the Javerts of Indianapolis nailed Southern California, or their emergency, PR-driven, make-it-up-on-the-spot response to Penn State, which was being prosecuted by more competent authorities in courts of law. Let’s not forget the criminal lengths the NCAA went to in sanctioning Miami football.

But for Big Chill U., whose Blue Heaven, Carolina Way mythology kisses the ass of every baby boomer fortunate to enroll in a time when being white and paying a nominal fee were the main admissions criteria, the NCAA must now be thoughtful and very deliberate. Sure, it talked tough last fall when it brought back men’s basketball and football, by name, to this can continually kicked down the road. Yeah. Who took these mentions out of it in the first place, though? Actions, not words, describe intent, and at every turn the NCAA shows more concern with appearing tough than actually leveling judgment.

The probe, the filings, the re-filings, the hearings have all proceeded according to the convenience and prerogatives of UNC basketball and its appearance in the NCAA’s most lucrative television spectacle. And I’ll also guarantee the NCAA’s insipid Committee on Infractions doesn’t do anything before the last national letters of intent are signed May 17.

I have a brother and a mother and a father who went to UNC. Two cousins, and their father are Carolina alumni; one met his wife there. A very dear friend works for the university. I have my grandmother’s diploma here in my home, from a time when women were supposed to go to Greensboro, not Chapel Hill. I still and always will have great respect for UNC and those who graduate it, even if I flee the room whenever I hear Charles Kuralt puffing out his vocal sac about “the university of the people.” I pay taxes to this state after all.

But no longer will I acknowledge UNC’s athletics programs. As much as my alma mater was set back, as much as its failures were set in motion by the disproportionate sanctions of the Personal Fouls scandal, UNC’s athletic greatness stands on the shoulders of a great and so far unpunished crime. The Carolina Way was a lie and anyone who believed in it is a fool. So we come to a day where the Tar Heels do not deserve my attention, and the fools don’t deserve my company.

Owen S. Good is a 1995 graduate of North Carolina State University and a 2000 graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He was sports editor of Technician in the 1994-1995 academic year. He lives in Elkin.

About JackWolf

I'm an unapologetic NC State fan but also consider myself a rational one. Hit me up on twitter if you want to talk @NCStateFootball


Home Forums Dad asked me to watch the National Championship with him. Why I said ‘No.’

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    The text from my father on Sunday was almost a rhetorical question. “Want to come over Monday for the game?” My reply instead: “I actually thought abo
    [See the full post at: Dad asked me to watch the National Championship with him. Why I said ‘No.’]


    Can we get 7 pages worth of Handel’s Amens?

    Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy. Mao Zedong


    I too graduated from State in 95 and endured the mostly terrible basketball that was on display. I’m married to a tarheel fan and thankfully will be at work tonight so I will not have to listen or watch the Cheaters be rewarded yet again. I have always despised UNC coming from a State family, but over the last 5 years it has grown into an intense hatred for everything unc. I still hold out hope that eventually the NCAA will drop the hammer and give them the punishment that they do richly deserve!

    Class of 95


    If NC State had any pride, they’d just refuse to play UNC in basketball. Don’t show up, don’t play. Just forfeit. Prepare a statement and release it through the media. That’d do more to get the ACC and NCAA to actually do something than anything else.

    I won’t be watching tonight because I couldn’t stomach a UNC coronation. I will be pulling for Gonzaga on far.


    I made a decision last year at the football game that I should never attend a UNC-State athletic event.

    I wonder how UNC fans would feel if the scandal was @ Duke and this was Duke in the championship game? We know – they would be angry as heck.

    It matters not, this is the lot we have chosen. I will try to avoid the game tonight but probably won’t be able to do so. I don’t want to watch – because like the author – there are people I love who want them to win badly – and pulling against them is schadenfreude which ain’t good.

    Throughout this whole scandal – I have wondered how I would have reacted had this been NC State. Would I have wanted them to kick the can down the road when we had a great chance at athletic glory this year? Would I have wanted a just punishment for our violations? Would I have wanted us to stick it to the NCAA? (I think almost all of us know the answer to that question in our hearts.)

    I am also taken back to a wise family friend several years ago when I asked if he would watch the final game in the Braves- Blue Jay’s World Series. He said the pain of watching them lose would be greater than the joy of watching them win. And while the roles on this are reversed – his words proved to be true.

    And I also look at this as I look at other recreational things. If every other time I drank beer I got angry, I wouldn’t drink beer. If every other time I ate a certain food, it made me feel lousy for a few hours, I wouldn’t eat that food. Meaning – why do I subject myself to it?


    Another set of eyes is always interesting.

    Essentially nobody cares. As long as you are winning the detached fan could careless, they are simply looking to latch themselves onto a greater item.

    The kids that will watch unc win could careless. In their eyes unc is good and that is all that matters.

    Nobody cares about the pain of NC State. Everyone loves a winner, regardless, and nobody loves a loser.


    *tell dad to stick a sock in it


    I “arrove” at a similar place several years ago. I have a number of close friends and co-workers who are Unc grads….I don’t acknowledge Walmart “fandom” so I don’t conodone those types. Some think it’s been an abomination, some think it’s all contrived and never happened like the Holocaust. The fact is that none of them are marching in the streets saying “Carolina Blue Lives Don’t Matter”…They acknowledge “something happened” but they won’t stomp their feet until the BOG does something…So they are still thrilled about “tonight”.

    I can’t go there. I won’t watch, I may check the score, but it’s hoping they are getting their cheating asses waxed! Hoping “Good wins over Evil” tonight!

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


    While I fully understand the general animosity and sentiment expressed above…

    I wish I had a Dad to watch any basketball game with….

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!

    I’ll check in from time to time but probably will not watch coast to coast. Like BotB I wish I had a dad here to watch the game with (or even my mom who was a big basketball fan) …


    Amen Bill. I was thinking the same thing. I have read many posts from men who have lost their Dad’s. My Dad was pulling for the heels hard Saturday – and I ain’t going to lie it bothered me.

    But sometimes whatever shall we call it works in mysterious ways. There’s? was a large group behind us with the typical obnoxious loud mouthed Tar Heel fan….I fumed. I saw someone battling obvious disabilities – not sure if it was cerebral palsy or what limp by with a great deal of effort?. Occasionally when that obnoxious heel fan would start chirping I would look behind me for the voice. While the challenged individual wasn’t him, he was with that group.

    I talked to the Heels fan after the game. They were in Charleston for a batchelor’s party. I realized, if this group of guys was going to include an individual with physical challenges – a) they couldn’t be that awful and b) there were more important things than this stupid game.


    At the risk of sounding like Donald Trump, ” the system is rigged” and has been for quite a while. I won’t be watching either. The adoration of the media was evident in the semi finals when the announcers commented about how “open and forthright” UNC had been in the investigations. Bullsh*t!
    I can’t stomach that crap anymore.
    Go Pack!


    Sorry, I may have misquoted the BS. It could have been “open and cooperative”.


    My Dad would not have wasted the evening. Now…my Mom would probably decorate the house in Bulldogs.

    Their sons played for:

    1) You know
    2) Kentucky. You didn’t know
    3) Towson. Yeah, who the hell is Towson?

    Not UNx, by god!


    This may be the best article written on this subject. You voiced what so many feel. Have shared this for all to read and for UNX fans we should provide a “hooks on tape” copy! The hypocrisy of the Carolina Way will be available for all to see!

    Watching “the voice” and a movie!

    This is my happy face


    I’m not watching. My Vietnam combat helicopter pilot Father just turned 74 and only watches Golf.


    Go Zags. Spend time with your father, he may be a tarhole, but he’s your tarhole.


    Visit with Daddio tomorrow.


    I truly want to barf. Wolfpack basketball is at rock bottom.


    Beer does not taste as good tonight.

    Sweet jumper

    Amen. Great post JackWolf! I am a die-hard State fan and Davidson graduate. My father is a State grad as is my younger brother. My hatred of everything Carowhina began in elementary school in the mid-60’s spurred by cruel, obnoxious, condescending UNX fans. I decided at an early age that I would never root for those hypocritical asses wearing baby blue. When Russia came to Chapel Hole in 1980, I said,
    “Go Big Red!” and I meant it. I watched the NCAA render swift justice on State in the early 70’s for David Thompson sleeping on the floor of a friend’s room at State basketball camp(a benefit valued at $8.00 per night) and Coach Biedenbach playing in a pickup game with Thompson after Thompson had already signed his Letter of Intent. I think Thompson was also given a ride home to Shelby by an assistant coach. For these violations we were placed on probation for one year and robbed of a chance at a NCAA championship in 1973 when we went 27-0 the year before our NCAA championship in 1974. I stood by in 1989-90 as our Coach Valvano was crucified by the News & Observer and he and our basketball program were unjustly punished by our own administration, by our Tar Hole-centric Board of Governors, and by the NCAA for a smear campaign based on a book of lies by Peter Gollenback and based on jealousy of Coach Valvano’s growing celebrity by Tar Hole journalists at the N & O. The NCAA never substantiated any of Gollenback’s allegations and accepted State’s self-imposed punishment. During these two decades I was asked many times how I could support a bunch of cheaters and told that UNX was the shining light of the NCAA and that all schools should follow the example of UNX to achieve the proper balance of academics and athletics. I also heard many parables and epistles of St. Dean Smith, the paragon of virtue. Now we find out that the Saint himself and his AD, John Swofford established the AFAM program which enabled the great diploma mill of the University of Non Compliance to keep athletes who did not attend classes and did not do their own assignments eligible and win championships. Rather than admitting their transgressions, accepting their punisment and moving on, they have spent $18 million in legal fees over the last 5 or 6 years stalling and delaying any judgment by the NCAA. The NCAA also has been very slow to act while smacking many other programs with strict sanctions during this time. The most widespread and long-standing athletic program academic fraud in NCAA history needs swift justice, and the NCAA should stop nothing short of removing the NCAA championship banners of 1993, 2005 and 2009. Any other school would have probably received “the death penalty” for these circumstances. They will probably get a good wrist slapping and nothing else, but I am holding out hope that the NCAA will grow a pair and do their job for a change. I will continue to despise them and will not root for them for as long as I live. Just watched the game tonight and was very disappointed in the outcome. Remember, cheaters never win except at UNX.


    One of the best posts I have ever read on SFN. My dad was not a hole fan, so I was spared that decision.

    I joined many of you on the sidelines. I sat outside by my fire pit, smoking a cigar, drinking some Makers Mark and listening to a book. Did not know the results until this morning… and did not care.


    I watched the game and it was sickening. My Wife and daughter (son as well) are TarHoles so that’s always tough. Well my Daughter is only 11 and 9 so that could change but it won’t. Why? Kids like winner’s plain and simple. Winner’s are always talked about and on TV. Winner’s spend what ever it takes to get to the top. I’m on “old” winner who believes in winning the right way like everyone else on here. However, I have come to the conclusion of these facts:

    1. The “feeder” generation to the TarHoles (or any college) simply doesn’t care if they cheated to win. They simply don’t.

    2. The NCAA literally can’t afford to bust the UNC cash machine. The money at stake is too high to worry about integrity.

    3. I can’t fault the younger generation to pulling for a winner (in theory). I watched my 11 year old jump with excitement after the win last night (maybe she was just in shock we allowed her to stay up past 9pm).

    4. The Wolfpack may simply never be a top 3 team in the ACC. The mindset of the powers that be seem to reflect that idea as well. Not a knock on Keatts but if someone told the Wolfpack power brokers that for 3 million we could be a decent team but for 4.5 million we could be top 10 team nationally, we would pick option A with the hopes of changing the mold. That’s just who we are and apparently what we always strive for.

    5. The TarHole machine is too big to fail. Too many decision makers depend on them succeeding.

    Here’s to hoping Keatts is the miracle we’ve been looking for at an Decent salary. Very well written article by the way. I did enjoy the read….Go Pack


    I’m no psychologist. Perhaps I need someone who is in the field to explain it to me.
    But for the life of me I can’t figure out how seemingly otherwise good and decent people, people who wouldn’t cheat on their taxes or their spouses, people who lead quiet lives within the boundaries of law and decency, could find themselves not only condoning blatantly ill-gotten gains, but actually rooting for it to happen.
    Is there something about sports that allows people to put their morality aside and cheer for teams and players they KNOW are cheating? I mean, its not like there’s a single person with even a passing interest in sports that isn’t aware of what this “institution” has done.
    I’m no saint and I don’t consider myself to be morally superior. But I’ve tried looking at it from the perspective of what I would be thinking and feeling if our school had done what UNC-CHeat has done for the sake of maintaining a high profile, winning sports team. And for the life of me I can’t help but thinking I would be ashamed and embarrassed. I’d hardly be crowing about it on social media. If we won fair and square then sure – I’d be rightfully proud.
    But these folks KNOW damn well that they’re rooting for blatant cheaters and they seem proud of it. For the life of me, I’ll never understand it.

    Hawkeye Whitney


    I agree with you. If my father were still living, I would be excited to watch any event with him. One of my best memories is when my Dad took me to see the team return from Albuquerque in ’83 when I was in 7th grade.

    I have my undergraduate degree from State (and a graduate degree from Chapel Hill). I also married a UNC grad. AND I have as much disgust as anyone for the cheating and the holier-than-though attitude that permeates UNC.

    My daughter is a high school junior looking at colleges. She went to Chapel Hill this past Saturday for an all-day event where the high school kids could attend a few “classes” taught by students and also tour the campus. She was appalled that some of the information taught in a class on “Brexit” was factually incorrect. My wife and I decided that we wouldn’t try to influence her thinking about UNC. My daughter came out of there saying that she “wasn’t feeling it” in regards to Carolina. Neither my wife (the UNC graduate) nor I want her to go to Carolina, so it was a relief to hear that it is not high on her list. UNC is not anything like the institution it once was.

    lumbee wolfman


    Wish I had a decent father – haven’t talked to him in a dozen years (due to a Penn State interaction). I’ve learned to quickly remove myself from all toxic individuals and toxic situations. It’s a good strategy for happiness and sanity.

    Didn’t watch the game – for all the reasons you mentioned.

    Carolina is like the Catholic Church – their past has been exposed; they’re still in denial; yet, they have millions of supporters. Only God can fix messes like this – I’m so glad that God is not a Tarhole!

    In the meantime, we need to apologize to the Valvano family; show official recognition for the work he did for the university;. – Get that white elephant off our back!

    Class of 1981

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