Just when you think North Carolina athletic department’s academic scandal may finally fade into a scrapbook somewere, a Rashad McCants jumps up and tells ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that his eligibility on the 2005 Tar Heel national championship basketball team depended on bogus classes conducted with the knowledge of head coach Roy Williams.
An excerpt from the report:
McCants told “Outside the Lines” that he didn’t question the arrangement of tutors doing his work, nor did he question being steered to bogus classes in the AFAM department. “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 told “Outside the Lines.” “… 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.”
We’ve been down this Tobacco road before, of course. The famed “Carolina Way” has suffered a deep stain thanks mainly to revelations about fraudulent African-American Studies classes that were highly-populated by the school’s football and basketball players in effort to remain on the playing fields or courts.
McCants says he was among the basketball players who were directed to AFAM classes after coming dangerous close to losing his academic eligibility. Many of those AFAM classes were part of a “paper-class” system in which students didn’t have to attend class. They just merely had to write a term paper.
McCants says tutors wrote those papers in his name. And an OTL check of McCants’ transcript revealed that the second-leading scorer on that 2055 team never earned higher than a C in any of his non-AFAM classes, while passing his AFAM classes with flying colors.
McCants told OTL that Williams knew all about this, telling him at one point, “You know we’re going to be able to figure out how to make it happen . . . ” with regards to his eligibility.
Williams says he didn’t know. Shortly after ESPN posted the McCants transcript, Williams released a lengthy statement which began with, “Our players have been deeply hurt . . . “‘ An excerpt:
“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.”
The University of North Carolina is the entity deeply hurt in this situation. Held up a standard to which other schools should strive, UNC has instead been portrayed as a sports factory that did whatever it could to keep its athletes eligible, in football and basketball alike.
McCants has already received some blowback from other North Carolina players concerning his comments, but it’s not like his allegations have been made a vacuum. We’ve heard a lot of this before. And despite UNC’s wishes, we are likely to hear more of it again.