North Carolina skates and NCAA’s uselessness is confirmed (again)

North Carolina coach Roy Williams, here celebrating with his team after the Tar Heels beat Oklahoma to win the Final Four in 2009, surely is all smiles today. (AP photo)

Well, at least it’s official now: When it comes to creating and enforcing structures and rules for intercollegiate athletics, the NCAA is useless. Just close the doors now so we can end this charade.

North Carolina for years has committed academic fraud, primarily in the form of bogus African Studies courses that helped keep athletes eligible. That fact is clear to almost everybody.  But after a long, drawn-out investigation that the NCAA never seemed to want to be a part of, the body announced Friday that the committee on infractions “could not conclude North Carolina violated NCAA rules.”

So the Tar Heels will not receive any punishment.

No championships will be vacated. No scholarships will be lost. No bowl ban. No long walk of shame for Roy Williams and any other UNC coach complicit in this.

Nothing.

Why? This is the best part.

From the NCAA’s statement: “NCAA policy is clear. The NCAA defers to its member schools to determine whether academic fraud occurred and, ultimately, the panel is bound to making decisions within the rules set by the membership.”

Let me translate: If North Carolina doesn’t believe academic fraud occurred, then academic fraud didn’t occur. What a great standard that would be for our judicial system.

The NCAA said there’s nothing they can do about it. They said because the bogus courses were technically offered to the general student body, anybody could have signed up for African Studies 101 and received an “A” for doing somewhere between next-to-nothing and actually nothing.

Something tells me this isn’t how North Carolina became one of the nation’s top academic institutions. But I’ll leave it to the actual professors to throw their desks through the window.

More from the NCAA: “While student-athletes likely benefited from the courses, so did the general student body. Additionally, the record did not establish that the university created and offered the courses as part of a systematic effort to benefit only student-athletes.”

All together now: bull.

The NCAA began an investigation into the football program in 2010 and it grew from there. North Carolina eventually was charged with five “Level I” infractions, including lack of institutional control.

Classes in the African and Afro-American studies department helped a number of athletes from 2002 to 2011. They were independent-study courses. There were no lectures. They never met. They required one or two papers. That’s it.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who chairs the committee on infractions said, “The (COI) is in no way supporting what happened.”

That’s special.

I would say this is another black eye for major college athletics. But to paraphrase an old line, college athletics ran out of black eyes 50 years ago.

The NCAA won’t confirm what everybody else knows: Those courses were created to keep athletes eligible, to win games and championships, to create mind-boggling revenue steams. That’s not at all to suggest that all athletes are dumb or academically challenged. They aren’t. But it goes without saying that if some individuals did not have amazing athletic skills, they would not be admitted to a school like North Carolina. Borderline academic students who aren’t athletes generally don’t get in. But the university knows helping athletes through the front gates benefits them in other ways. That’s fine, as long as the means aren’t, well, ridiculous.

We’ve known this for a while, but it was affirmed with this decision: The NCAA has ceased to be useful. They’re complicit in this crime — and, yes, crime is an appropriate word because these practices allow universities to stray from their stated mission, of setting the bar high and nurturing young people. Enabling is not nurturing.

As bad as the NCAA has looked in the past, this decision might be the worst of all. Because even in the best-case scenario of its own rules preventing them from acting, then their own rules render their existence meaningless.

EARLIER: Weekend Predictions parlay: NCAA over Auburn, Johnson over Richt

Subscribe to the,We Never Played The Game” podcast with the AJC’s Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes. Episodes also can be downloaded from on-demand link on WSBRadio.com.

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Reader Comments 0

51 comments
dancrossland
dancrossland

Good article! ..somewhere Jim Harrick is screaming “I shoulda called those classes African Studies instead of Basketball 101!”

panacifuga
panacifuga

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TideDawg
TideDawg

It's all about money. NC gets probation and all of a sudden the big money games scheduled for TV become worthless. If you're on probation and you're in a nationally televised game it means nothing. You're going nowhere, nobody cares, and you're not ranked and if you are it means nothing. Therefore, no probation for NC basketball or football. Football not so great, but basketball NC is usually a power.

dawg fan
dawg fan

Love all the ACC snobs making excuses for this low life cheating acting like we're too stupid to understand this. Maybe these professors need to head over to Dawgnation and read Towers' piece on how we got hammered for the exact same thing.

Maybe you're the stupid ones professors.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@dawg fan 

I don't know what you're reading, but I can guarantee you that no ACC fans, outside of Chapel Hill, are making any kind of excuses for this "low life cheating," which it definitely is.  The rest of the ACC schools don't refer to them as UNCheat for nothing.  Sounds like YOU are the one trying to justify the "exact same thing" that happened at the cesspool.

Mulk
Mulk

@dawg fan Maybe you should revisit the site yourself. It seems a poster over there remembers a few more things about that situation that old Chip failed to share with his "smart" following.

he_of_stinky_wind
he_of_stinky_wind

Love all the UNC apologist claiming the NCAA doesn't have jurisdiction over academic fraud.  As funny as it gets.

Mercury123
Mercury123

@he_of_stinky_wind I love all the only trolls that can't even read a news story and see that is what the NCAA determined.  


Do tell scholar, what is the NCAA's role when it comes to classroom instruction?

he_of_stinky_wind
he_of_stinky_wind

The NCAA is full of corruption, people trying to curry favors for future jobs.  Those who led this farce of an investigation should be call out.

Big Wally
Big Wally

UNC "Where Knowledge is Good". Queue the Animal House music.

gapeach101
gapeach101

 1.  There were sanctions.  Butch Davis lost his job.  The football team implemented a postseason ban, vacated wins and a reduction of 15 scholarships all in response to the issue. 

Clearly no school will assess voluntary sanctions again.

BocaBaby
BocaBaby

I took a speed reading course in college.  It was a one hour class.  The professor gave everyone an "A-".  It was a joke.  I took the grade and chalked it up to experience.  The only ones who complained were the straight "A" students who said it marred their academic standing.

OskarMatzerath
OskarMatzerath

Jeff, you're missing the point here.  The NCAA neither sets nor monitors academic requirements.

That is why a student athlete in UGA's Consumer Economics program is just as eligible as the Tech student athlete in Management Science or a VPI student athlete in Fashion Merchandising.  One is learning to calculate sales tax, one is learning calculus and one is learning to put clothes on hangers - but they are all doing what their school requires of them for earning a degree.

If the student athletes are not getting anything that isn't offered to the student body at large then there is no NCAA violation.

This is nothing new.  The center on UT's 1998 national championship team was unable to read, but he was given the option of verbally giving his exam answers and dictating his papers to a tutor who wrote then for him.  Since UT offered the same accommodation for all of their illiterate students there was nothing the NCAA could say. 


Covfefe23
Covfefe23

There's too much money in it now to expect the death penalty, or anything close to it, from the NCAA.


In 1982 their contract with CBS was 3 years for 50 million.


In 2002 their contract with CBS was 11 years for 6 BILLION.

POV1948
POV1948

NCAA is worse than worthless.

Mercury123
Mercury123

Schultz...you apparently don't have an understanding of this issue and part of your blog is factually inaccurate.


1.  There were sanctions.  Butch Davis lost his job.  The football team implemented a postseason ban, vacated wins and a reduction of 15 scholarships all in response to the issue. 


2.  At the end of the day, the NCAA doesn't have jurisdiction in the classroom.  This is and always has been the case.  And you don't want that.  Do you want the NCAA putting UGA's accreditation at risk? 


3.  Lastly, these courses exist at all colleges and universities.  If you took the time to read the Weinstein report or other reports, you would understand that these courses were not created for athletes.  In fact, in the UNC case only about 35% of the attendees over the years were athletes.  The other 65% were students.  That is important her because at the crux of the NCAA's argument was impermissible benefits.  That simply is not the case.  


Is the UNC case a huge black eye for the university?  Absolutely.  Has it affected athletics?  More than you would know.  Look at UNC basketball's recruitment over the past few years.  They have missed out on top recruits because of this.  It's actually quiet amazing that they won a championship.  


People can whine and moan about this ruling all they want.  A few professors went off the reservation.  Students found a loophole and tried to exploit it.  Some of the students were athletes.  Tons of wrongdoing but not quite an NCAA infraction.  

GADawg59
GADawg59

Jeff,  you need to have Lily make all NCAA decisions.  Put a piece of cheese on the wall and let her choose.  She would do a better job.

Mulk
Mulk

How much actual education (including these sham courses) does a one-and-doner have to take/pass to get them through March Madness?

Mercury123
Mercury123

@Mulk How many one and done have played at UNC in the past decade? 

Mulk
Mulk

@Mercury123 @Mulk I have no idea. And, don't get too defensive. I really want to know GENERALLY and not just at Carolina. So, forget Carolina, how much education does a one and donner have to pass to get him to March Madness? A couple courses before Christmas? 3 courses before Christmas?

Mercury123
Mercury123

@Mulk @Mercury123 A bit more than you think.  Since basketball is a winter/spring sport, they can't just crap out.  They have to stay eligible for the fall and pass the spring midpoint.  After April (championship) they can stop going to class.  


BUT...and this is important, sports programs are judged on a GSR (graduation success rate).  If it gets too low, the program can be punished via loss of scholarships.  

Mulk
Mulk

@Mercury123 @Mulk Leaving  early to go to the pro doesn't count against the GSR. If so, Kentucky wouldn't have any scholarships to give?

Mulk
Mulk

@Mercury123 @Mulk A bit more specific: how many courses (sham or not) does a one and donner have to take to "stay eligible for the fall and pass the spring midpoint?"

Mercury123
Mercury123

@Mulk @Mercury123 Yes it does.  Students have a six year window that the GSR calculates.  There aren't as many one and dones as you would like to think.  Most basketball players stay 3-4 years.  And those that don't get drafted nearly always come back and finish their degree.  UK basketball has a score in the 80s.  That put them in the top half of the SEC

Mercury123
Mercury123

@Mulk @Mercury123 In the fall they must be enrolled in 12-15 hours.  It is a full time load.  So that typically is 4-5 classes.  It varies from each school.  


The same could be done in the spring.  Eligibility is a big deal for these kids.  They have a whole network around them doing everything (ethical and not) to keep them above the min requirement

GADawg59
GADawg59

NCAA is a selective enforcement agency.  Sanctions against minor infractions but nothing against something major.  Logic is thrown out the window.


Nativesportsfan
Nativesportsfan

Louisville, Auburn, and Ole Miss should put the UNC attorneys on retainer

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Goes hand in hand with the absurd One and Done rule. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Buschleaguer I will never understand why they let them get away with that...either go to College or go Pro...if you leave school it will have to be after 3rd year...period.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Damn, a sensible post by TOJ.

Must be freezing down there in hell.

Dawn Morgan
Dawn Morgan

And one hour after letting UNC off scot-free, the NCAA rules an NC State player ineligible because he actually went to class. Guess UNC's check was larger...

fez
fez

@Dawn Morgan The reasoning in both cases is correct.  The sham classes at Carolina were available to the entire student body, not just athletes.  Therefore, it was not a special benefit for the athletes.  In the case of the transfer student to MooU, he took summer classes at OSU and therefore was considered a transfer student, not an incoming freshman.  If he had not taken classes at OSU, he would not have to sit out a year.

Mercury123
Mercury123

@Mulk @fez @Dawn Morgan Harrick was providing answers to his final test.  That's different.  That is cheating just like plagiarism.  

Mulk
Mulk

@Mercury123 @Mulk @fez @Dawn Morgan Merc,


Yikes! I thought the beauty of those courses with Harrick were the questions themselves. "How many points do you get for a 3 point shot?"


Are you a graduate of Carolina? Or, just a fan? Does any of this bother you?

Mulk
Mulk

@Covfefe23 @Mulk @fez @Dawn Morgan Thanks for the correction, Jan. Did "UGAG" look right to you? If I could only have gotten into UGAG (too many special admits kept me out), I might have passed that course. Especially, if they were providing the answers. Oh wait, were (not was, Jan) the answers correct?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Mulk: "Oh wait, were (not was, Jan) the answers correct?"

____________

At least you've finally learned something--or so it appears.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@fez

The problem with that logic is do you really believe a college (UNC in this case) would even create such courses were it not for athletes?  Athletes may not be the only ones who benefit, but I guarantee you that the majority of those classes are taken by athletes, and not the general student body.  If the NCAA won't take action, then accrediting bodies should, and UNC should lose its accreditation as an institute of higher learning. 

Mulk
Mulk

@DawgNole @Mulk Slow learner here. But Covfefe straightened me out. She is an excellent teacher.

Doomy
Doomy

This exact scenario has happened before, Jeff. And frankly, I can't blame the NCAA for ruling this way. Their logic is sound. 


Even though everyone knows this is a BS class the simple fact of the matter is that the NCAA does not get to determine what classes that an institution offers are legitimate and which ones aren't, especially if they are offered to the whole student body. 


Do you really believe the NCAA has the resources let alone the qualifications to come into an academic institution and tell them what classes the NCAA thinks are good, hard academic classes worthy of study and which ones are baloney. And btw there are actually degrees in African American and other ethnic studies. So if there are actual degrees in this area of study then who are you or the NCAA to tell a university that a class in this area of study is not legit? 


I know, I know. We all kinda know these are still baloney classes designed to help athletes pass. But the reality is that this is a subjective opinion that the NCAA does not have the authority or expertise to tell a university what classes are baloney and which ones are not. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Doomy Do they have European Studies as a course too?...what is this degree for...being a teacher of African studies?

Mulk
Mulk

@Doomy Why did this take 5 years? If Carolina knew this why weren't they pushing for a speedy conclusion?

fez
fez

@Mulk @Doomy Because the ABC'ers at the News&Observer kept digging and finding additional things that required the NCAA to review.  Each time, that reset the meter and made it drag on and on and on.  It had a huge impact on recruiting.

Mulk
Mulk

@fez @Mulk @Doomy So, the investigation was always going nowhere but the delays caused similar sanctions anyway?

Lexi3
Lexi3

The NCAA is too busy brow beating small schools into changing names and nicknames the feckless panty waists at its headquarters deem "offensive."

Phillip Shane Thompson
Phillip Shane Thompson

Jeff. NCAA is a money making scam that uses student athletes to make NCAA administrators millions each year for their own pockets. NCAA needs to be overhauled if not deleted and built back with people who have morals and character.