3100 Students over the course of 18 years took “fake” classes at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. I’m a little surprised at the lack of notoriety this story seems to be receiving on the front pages of main stream media. This is possibly one of the biggest academic scandals mixed with athletics in the history of college sports. Every punishment fathomable including the death penalty should be on the table for UNC.
For every dumb rule the NCAA chooses to enforce (see punishing individuals for being paid for signing autographs) these infractions hit at the very core of what the NCAA and college institutions are supposed to believe: STUDENT-Athletes. According to a CNN article, UNC could be charged with one of the most serious charges: lack of Institutional Control. This charge is the gateway to some of the NCAA’s harshest penalties which can include the “death penalty.”
The University of Southern California was hit with this penalty and was forced to vacate championships, lose scholarships, and face post season bans in multiple sports. SMU was hit back in 1986 with the “death penalty” which shattered their football program and athletics department as a whole. (A hit I don’t think they have recovered from).
Look this isn’t recruiting violations, this isn’t signing autographs, this isn’t sneaking extra practices… this is blatant cheating. This was UNC meeting expectations in the shadiest, dirtiest, and most unethical ways possible. It wasn’t over the course of one, two, or even five years. 18 years this went on, and it was even brought to the school’s attention back in 2009. The worst is, the fraud isn’t limited to one sport, multiple sports have been labeled in the report.
I know, I know, I’m not a UNC fan and in fact pretty much loathe them with regards to athletics. This goes beyond athletic rivalry and simple competitive animosity. Academic institutions are responsible for holding kids to certain standards even if they are part of athletic programs that bring their respective universities millions of dollars a year. The easy argument is that if the broad scope of this travesty happens at a place like UNC it is bound to happen at other colleges and universities. That argument may hold some merit and may in fact be true however there is no proof. If this investigation exposes more academic fraud in other institutions then so be it. Maybe it needs to happen so perhaps the priority of college athletics can be reestablished.