Can Academic Scandal Affect This Year's North Carolina Tar Heels?

By Jeremy Roth
Roy Williams
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you that do not know, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill athletic department is under investigation for a possible academic scandal. To put it nicely, the basketball team may be screwed.

The school is one of the most prestigious universities in the entire country, and the students that are admitted to the school perform tremendously when it comes to academics. Of course, the athletes at the school do not just play their respective sport, but they participate academically as well, which most fans overlook. Players on the basketball team receive scholarships, most of them four-year, to attend classes while playing the sport. The students must maintain a ‘C’ average in order to be eligible to play their sport, and the NCAA is accusing the school of giving their athletes an unfair advantage in order to obtain such an average.

Most of the athletes that attend the school, particularly in their football and basketball programs, are not the type of the students that attend the school solely for academics. They may not have received the appropriate grades that others received in order to be accepted into the university, but managed to get in due to their athletic abilities. For these student athletes, the university placed them into classed called independent study. These independent study courses are supposed to give athletes an opportunity to receive extra tutoring and assistance to complete their appropriate academic studies while participating in their sport. The only problem with this is the fact that the student are not required to attend the class, but they are only required to submit a paper at the end of each semester. The professors of these classes always gave the students A’s or B’s, so they are essentially just classes set up in order to boost a student athletes grade point average (GPA).

It is obvious as to why this is illegal in terms of NCAA rules and regulations, because the athletes basically have one less course than all the other students and receive unfair grades. The professors automatically give them a high grade and give them an unfair advantage on these final papers. The athletes call these independent study classes “paper classes,” because if they submit the one paper at the end of the semester, then they have completed all of their requirements. Apparently, these paper classes have been in effect dating all the way back to the Tar Heels’ 2005 national championship team. This means that some of their most profound players of all time, including Raymond Felton and Sean May, have passed through the university almost illegally. Who knows whether or not current players such as Marcus Paige and James Michael McAdoo are receiving the same illegal benefits.

Right now, it seems that the NCAA is close to cracking the case and revealing that the university has been illegally giving their athletes illegal academic benefits in order for them to fully succeed in their respective sports. If this does happen, then sanctions will be placed within each program that has been taking part in the scandal. The NCAA could possibly revoke the Tar Heels’ 2005 and 2009 championships, and any other successes they have had in the years moving forward. Players could be subject to suspension and even head coach Roy Williams can face serious consequences.

This year’s Tar Heel team is already struggling on the court, and the last thing they need is to have struggles off the court. P.J. Hairston has already been expelled as a result of receiving impermissible benefits, and now the school faces many other possible suspension as a result of this much larger scandal. It is very scary to think about, but if the NCAA does declare the Tar Heels’ academic tactics as an illegal scandal, then they could possibly be banned from future postseason play and a tremendous loss in scholarships.

Only time will tell whether or not this nightmare becomes reality, but for now, this is a very frightening thought that the Tar Heels hope they can avoid. After all, the entire Tar Heel basketball team is student athletes, and even though we only view them as athletes, the NCAA is more focused on their roles as students. If they are found to be cheating their roles as students, then the Tar Heels are in a tremendous amount of trouble.

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