The academic fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina seems to be spiraling out of control. Former Tarheels star and member of the 2004-05 national team Rashad McCants has come forward and said that academic fraud has long been going on at the school.
“Rashad McCants, the second-leading scorer on the North Carolina basketball team that won the 2004-05 national title, told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that tutors wrote his term papers, he rarely went to class for about half his time at UNC, and he remained able to play largely because he took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible.
McCants told “Outside the Lines” that he could have been academically ineligible to play during the championship season had he not been provided the assistance. Further, he said head basketball coach Roy Williams knew about the “paper-class” system at UNC. The so-called paper classes didn’t require students to go to class; rather, students were required to submit only one term paper to receive a grade.
McCants also told “Outside the Lines” that he even made the Dean’s List in Spring 2005 despite not attending any of his four classes for which he received straight-A grades. He said advisers and tutors who worked with the basketball program steered him to take the paper classes within the African-American Studies program.”
Tarheels athletic director Bubba Cunningham also made a statement regarding McCants’ accusations.
“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.”
McCants did say that he did take legitimate courses in his first year at UNC, but when he was facing academic ineligibility in the championship year, a meeting with Roy Williams to discuss his academic troubles led to changes in his classes.
McCants said he was headed toward ineligibility during the championship season because he had failed algebra and psychology, which accounted for half of his credits, in the fall of 2004. He had two A’s in AFAM classes in addition to the F’s. He said coach Roy Williams informed him of his academic troubles during a meeting ahead of the spring semester.
“There was a slight panic on my part … [he] said, you know, we’re going to be able to figure out how to make it happen, but you need to buckle down on your academics.”
He said Williams told him “we’re going to be able to change a class from, you know, your summer session class and swap it out with the class that you failed, just so the GPA could reflect that you are in good standing.”
“I thought it was a part of the college experience, just like watching it on a movie from ‘He Got Game’ or ‘Blue Chips,'” McCants said. “… when you get to college, you don’t go to class, you don’t do nothing, you just show up and play. That’s exactly how it was, you know, and I think that was the tradition of college basketball, or college, period, any sport. You’re not there to get an education, though they tell you that.
“You’re there to make revenue for the college. You’re there to put fans in the seats. You’re there to bring prestige to the university by winning games.”
A former learning specialist for the university, Mary Willingham, has come forward saying that McCants’ allegations definitely seem plausible.
“What he is saying absolutely lines up with what I have found: tutors writing papers for players, and advisers and tutors steering players to AFAM,” she said. “I think the coaches knew about the paper-class system. Of course they did.
“The system will only change when our athletes have a voice and begin to step forward, and that’s what Rashad is doing. It was the adults who failed the athletes.”
McCants has also issued a follow-up statement to explain why he’s coming forward to tell his side.
McCants certainly is being very vocal, which makes many question his motives behind these confessions. Either way, the entire situation doesn’t sound too good for either UNC or Roy Williams.