Earlier today, we found out that the NCAA determined that UNC didn’t commit any violations when it allowed basketball and football players to take phony classes and receive inflated grades. In fact, the NCAA sent officials down to Chapel Hill to investigate the “potential academic issues involving student-athletes in African and Afro-American Studies courses” and came away saying that the school hadn’t violated any rules. As recently as eight days ago, they confirmed those findings with the university, which means investigators were aware of Julius Peppers’ leaked transcript.
Why are they getting away with this? Because they outsmarted the system. There are no current rules that pertain to academic fraud, which means that technically, UNC didn’t break any. How does UConn feel about that? They’ve received multiple infractions from the NCAA for low academic scores. But, since they didn’t cover those scores up with fake grades and BS credits, they can’t compete in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. So, in order to escape the wrath of the NCAA, they should have done what UNC did: cheat. Great lesson to teach the kiddos, Mark!
And don’t even get Penn State started. While I would never compare what happened in State College to academic fraud, Penn State and its players didn’t violate any NCAA rules. Yet, they received one of the worst punishments in NCAA history.
While the fact that UNC is getting off scot-free is infuriating, more maddening to me is what this will mean for college basketball. In a sport in which members of the coaching staff get slapped on the hand for having game tape on when a player walks in their office, suddenly, manipulating a player’s academic performance so they can pass is okay?
Mark Emmert has said repeatedly that he wants to clean up the sport. I can think of no better opportunity than this. If Emmert wants to prevent every single university under the NCAA’s jurisdiction from creating an Afro-American Studies department, he needs to start rewriting the playbook.