The University of North Carolina is no stranger to being accused of letting athletes take bullshit “paper classes” that helped them remain academically eligible. But the latest accusations, courtesy of former basketball star Rashad McCants, shine the spotlight on the heretofore unsanctioned hoops program, and has sent the the administration — including coach Roy Williams –scrambling to deny without saying anything definitive.
McCants was the second-leading scorer for the UNC team that won a national title in 2005, and apparently made the Dean’s List in 2005 with straight A’s — grades he said he did not earn because he never went to class:
When allegations of bogus African-American Studies classes first went public in 2011, 15 UNC basketball players were said to have enrolled in these fake courses. But while the football program ended up receiving sanctions for improper benefits and academic misconduct, no one from UNC’s basketball team has stood up and made accusations like this until now.
The university, obviously, is covering its ass. Here’s a statement from UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham:
“It is disappointing any time a student is dissatisfied with his or her experience. I welcome the opportunity to speak with Rashad McCants about returning to UNC to continue his academic career — just as we have welcomed many former student-athletes interested in completing their degrees.
“The university hired former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein in January to conduct an independent investigation into past academic and athletic irregularities. While these are the first allegations we have heard from Mr. McCants, I encourage him to speak with Mr. Wainstein. …
“I have gotten to know some of Mr. McCants’ teammates, and I know that claims about their academic experience have affected them deeply. They are adamant that they had a different experience at UNC-Chapel Hill than has been portrayed by Mr. McCants and others.”
Notice how Cunningham doesn’t say anything akin to the phrase “This is not true” or “This guy is lying and just trying to get attention for a book he’s writing.” His effort not to say anything definitive one way or another is noticeable, culminating in “they had a different experience at UNC-Chapel Hill.” Talk about a non-denial.
Team coach Roy Williams, on the other hand, went on the offensive with a categorical repudiation:
“With respect to the comments made today, I strongly disagree with what Rashad (McCants) has said. In no way did I know about or do anything close to what he says and I think the players whom I have coached over the years will agree with me. I have spent 63 years on this earth trying to do things the right way and the picture he portrays is not fair to the University or me.”
McCants does not say say Williams “definitely” knew, probably because Williams at no point sat around saying “Thank god you guys took those fake classes so you could keep playing basketball for free!” Williams knows that and is able to cover his ass, or at least he thinks so.
On the the other hand, if this did take place, there’s no possible way Williams didn’t know about it. Fifteen of his players were enrolled in AFAM classes one year, and then zero the next. That would be a pretty insane coincidence.
So who you got? The former player who has, in the past, talked shit about UNC and college sports culture in general, but would have little reason to lie about taking bogus classes outside of a brief publicity bump? Or the university that has been accused and confirmed to have been guilty of this kind of thing before?
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