FanDuel - WFBC

March 02, 2014

In Fake Classes Scandal, UNC Fails Its Athletes—and Whistle-Blower: Beginning in the 1990s and continuing at least through 2011, UNC’s Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies offered more than 200 lecture courses that never met. The department also sponsored hundreds of independent study classes of equally dubious value. Internal reviews have identified forged faculty signatures and more than 500 grades changed without authorization. The students affected were disproportionately football and basketball players.

Behind the cover of this week's edition.

posted by NoMich to culture at 09:46 AM - 14 comments

Mark Cuban: "The NCAA rules are so hypocritical, there's absolutely no reason for a kid to go [to college], because he's not going to class [and] he's actually not even able to take advantage of all the fun because the first semester he starts playing basketball. So if the goal is just to graduate to the NBA or be an NBA player, go to the D-League."

posted by phaedon at 11:59 AM on March 02

As a grad of a rival ACC school, I was taught to revel in any UNC misery, but I'm unable to do that in this case. This is sobering -- what I think about first and foremost are all the young men and women viewed and treated as expendable and sold short.

Chapel Hill isn't the only place where this kind of stuff is happening to this degree. But it sure does nurture and promote a high image of itself well above and beyond what I find digestible, so the findings are the more egregious IMO.

It would be wise for any program, collegiate or pro, to eliminate the self-ordained phraseology that includes references to a "way". Like the Carolina Way or the Patriot Way. That kind of puffery always gets punctured in due course, either from without or within.

(I don't care what they do within the cozy confines of the Connecticut gaming empire, so if they want to continue to tout the Mohegan Sun Way down there, it don't make me no never mind).

posted by beaverboard at 10:26 AM on March 03

Wow. I don't think that too many of us fool ourselves into believing that everything is kosher when it comes to big-time collegiate athletics, but Willingham's work is eye opening. And you obviously can't extrapolate that because UNC did things a certain way, that the rest of the D-1 programs do things the same way. But I do think that you can safely assume that every big time program has something in place to facilitate eligibility, and that something most likely falls along the continuum between outright fraud and bending the rules.

I feel like the blame lies with this country's insatiable need for top-notch entertainment, which for many comes in the form of collegiate athletics (I am one of them). The real question that arises out of this is how to stop the race to the bottom that collegiate athletics has become. How do we maintain the spectacle and the top-notch product on the field while simultaneously remedying the endemic failure to educate? And do we care enough to try?

posted by tahoemoj at 11:50 AM on March 03

I feel like the blame lies with this country's insatiable need for top-notch entertainment, which for many comes in the form of collegiate athletics (I am one of them).

College doesn't equal "top-notch". The professional ranks are always better than the college equivalent in every profession and every measurement.

What the country loves is:

- the narrative ("These are just kids!" and "They play for the love of the game!", regardless of how twisted the reality is...)

- the wide-spread nature of the teams (almost every city/town has a college in it (or near it) that provides a team to cheer for, even at the DII and DIII levels. This is like the North American version of the English football league system, or junior hockey in Canada.)

- the money (either the colleges making millions off the players effort, or the networks making millions off the players effort, or the gamblers making millions off the players effort, it's all possible because of the relative pittance the players cost the colleges/networks/gamblers)

Short of some wide-spread endemic gambling, corruption, and educational scandal to shake ALL of the colleges (and the NCAA and the networks), I don't see anything changing significantly.

posted by grum@work at 12:30 PM on March 03

College doesn't equal "top-notch".

Of course. I meant "top notch" more in the sense of "as entertaining as possible" than "the best." But your point is taken well. I agree with everything that followed, as well.

posted by tahoemoj at 12:37 PM on March 03

College doesn't equal "top-notch". The professional ranks are always better than the college equivalent in every profession and every measurement

To the sports fan this doesn't hold true. The players may be much better, but the entertainment value of the games typically are not.

posted by cixelsyd at 12:54 PM on March 03

The players may be much better, but the entertainment value of the games typically are not.

Yep, I'd much rather watch the VCU pep band as a Rams game goes to a TV timeout than see Spike Lee or Jack Nicholson sitting courtside picking their noses.

posted by beaverboard at 02:11 PM on March 03

The professional ranks are always better than the college equivalent in every profession and every measurement.

Show me an NBA game from the last decade better than George Mason getting to the Final Four.

Show me an NFL game from the last decade that beat Appalachian State beating Michigan in week one.

A "measurement" for "top-notch" that doesn't include sheer joy misses the point.

posted by Etrigan at 04:25 PM on March 03

Show me an NFL game from the last decade that beat Appalachian State beating Michigan in week one.

The Pittsburgh/Arizona Super Bowl.

posted by grum@work at 07:51 PM on March 03

An exciting game, as was this year's Seattle / San Fran game. No clear favorite going in or coming out of either.

George Mason or VCU in the Final Four with no future pros beating multiple teams with 3-5 first round draft picks? Completely unbelievable accomplishment. App State beating Michigan? Ditto.

posted by cixelsyd at 12:50 AM on March 04

Since we're talking about UNC, a game that has always danced around in my memory is Weber State beating Carolina in the first round of the 1999 tournament, led by the inimitable Harold "The Show" Arceneaux.

If you could bottle the looks of pain and disbelief on the Carolina bench during and after the game, I could sell enough of it via subscription email list to be able to retire comfortably.

For UNC, the pain was just beginning. Those were the Guthridge years, soon to be followed by the Doherty era. These two coaching chapters were when all the academic legerdemain began.

posted by beaverboard at 12:09 PM on March 04

Show me an NBA game from the last decade better than George Mason getting to the Final Four.

Game 6, 2013 NBA Finals

Though, I don't watch college sports very often anymore so one seems infinitely more important than the other through my eyes.

posted by tron7 at 01:13 PM on March 04

If you could bottle the looks of pain and disbelief on the Carolina bench during and after the game, I could sell enough of it via subscription email list to be able to retire comfortably.

Yeah, as another non-UNC ACC alum, I'd probably take a bottle of it a week. I'm still sorry I could only listen to Duke lose to Lehigh on the radio instead of being able to watch it.

posted by LionIndex at 01:55 AM on March 05

I do think that you can safely assume that every big time program has something in place to facilitate eligibility, and that something most likely falls along the continuum between outright fraud and bending the rules.

Past precedent suggests that the NCAA has thresholds of toleration for institutional-level shit, and only asserts itself when institutions start to get too cocky, and when there are no pending TV deal negotiations. That's to say, it's an entirely predictable hierarchy of power built upon preserving a billion-dollar product.

The linked piece gets to the heart of the collective self-delusion that sustains high-end college sports in the US: it is no longer possibly deploy the "but they get a scholarship" argument if colleges are not actually providing an education to large numbers of their "scholar-athletes".

If there were an obvious alternative arrangement that could preserve the rivalries, the local ties and the bullshit ethos, I'm sure that it might stand a chance. But there isn't an obvious arrangement, and the people who matter (i.e. those with the money) are largely not prepared to give up the spectacle and the bullshit.

posted by etagloh at 09:02 PM on March 05

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