As expected there are various opinions circulating on UNC’s situation from the feces throwing monkey board types to your run of the mill national columnists. The great temptation so far has been to cross three lanes of traffic and take the nearest hyperbole exit while ignoring the nuances and complexity of the issues surrounding the AFAM scandal. In the case of Friedlander, he denied that impulse(despite a history that would suggest the opposite) and offered a variety of reasons why those calling for pounds of flesh will likely be disappointed.
There’s no doubt that this is a serious situation, especially as it pertains to UNC’s already disgraced athletic department, and it should bring about both severe consequences and significant change.
But if you’re hoping for the same kind of carnage brought about by the Freeh Report at Penn State as some kind of moral retribution for Jim Valvano, Danny Ford or any other slight real or perceived, you’re probably going to end up disappointed, angry or both.
Because while it’s far too early to speculate on either the findings of Martin’s investigation or the level of NCAA involvement it will eventually elicit, it’s highly doubtful that any banners will be coming down from the Smith Center rafters – as one national columnist suggested recently – or any other kind of crippling sanctions imposed.
For one thing, there is absolutely no comparison between the situations at UNC and Penn State.
One involved a heinously criminal activity that was systematically covered up by members of a school’s administration and a football coach with far too much power. The other involves a group marginal students being steered to classes that involve little or no work in an effort to maintain their athletic eligibility.
It should also be pointed out that the NCAA is already aware of and has dealt with the fraudulent practices of professor Julius Nyang’oro and his suspect department. They were mentioned specifically in the infractions report that handed down, among other things, a one-year bowl ban to the Tar Heels’ football program last spring.
Friedlander also points out, as we have here, that the NCAA’s statute of limitations could prevent the governing body from getting into UNC’s scandal. Also of note is the complexity of the issues in general. Despite the media’s best efforts to make this scandal about suspect classes being setup and used to keep players eligible, it is a little more complicated than that. For one, there were non-athletes involved in all of these classes which generally keeps the NCAA was digging too deeply into it. The mix of non-athletes and athletes alike in these classes makes it more of an academic issue than an athletic one. In addition, going back 5-10 years to examine individual athletes and attempting to untangle questions of eligibility would be exceedingly difficult. That doesn’t mean the NCAA won’t try nor does it preclude the possibility of some sort of NCAA action but it does make titles being vacated a remote possibility.
Oh and full credit to Friedlander for looking beyond the “bloodlust” as he calls it to the real point of any probe of this sort and that is to make sure it never happens again. Friedlander goes a step further and suggests that UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp probably needs to resign or be shown the door to truly move past this scandal. I am not sure there is much argument against that, especially after Thorp applied a high standard of responsibility when he terminated Davis. Thorp is going to be held to that standard now and could find the business end of it an unpleasant thing.
As for the latest from Dan Kane, here it is including a renewed call for UNC to release student transcripts sans the personal information. UNC has repeatedly denied such requests from the media saying even with personal information redacted, it would be possibly to connect student to transcript.
Julius Peppers confirmed the leaked transcript on UNC’s site was indeed his and denies academic fraud occurred.
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