Apparently UNC likes whistleblowers about as much as the Bluth Company.
With the coaching carousel lethargically inactive, and most NBA draft announcements as predictable as summer in Arizona, there’s been a dearth of drama in the still-green offseason that makes the ending of college basketball seem so much more sudden, and painful, for die-hard hoops fans.
So, sincerely, thank you, University of North Carolina, for your ridiculous academic scandal which continues to give us something to be incensed over, even after the refs’ whistles have sounded the last bad call of the season, and rivals talked their last ounce of trash until October. The scandal, or specifically, its backlash, has taken yet another interesting turn that Bloomberg Businessweek touts as “targeting.”
According to author Paul Barrett, the Tar Heel administration is putting a bullseye squarely on the back (or forehead) of whistleblower Mary Willingham:
“Rather than grapple directly with how university employees and instructors launched on this egregious adventure of keeping scholarship athletes academically eligible by means of fraud, UNC’s leadership has gone after Willingham personally. Employing a classic kill-the-messenger playbook, top officials have questioned her credibility and demoted her.”
Is this as bad as it seems, or is Bloomberg overreacting? Remember, just because a reporter says it, doesn’t make it true. Some have a dull, rusted axe to grind, even when its better off buried (::cough:: PETE THAMEL). But apparently, UNC’s “retaliation” has included publishing the findings of three independent reviewers, who agreed with a dean’s opinion that Willingham’s findings were “a travesty.” There is still all manner of retaliatory “he said, she said” accusations flying between the two entrenched parties, and with the independent reviews and the images of A- papers, both sides have plenty of ammunition.
The bottom line is this: at least one reputable source believes that UNC is, at best, ignorantly neglecting serious problems, or at worst, nefariously targeting the faculty member most concerned with the school’s academic reputation. The author also wonders, as many college basketball fans have, “How long can the NCAA avert its eyes?” If Eric Bledsoe’s grades are reason enough to investigate, it’s hard to imagine how this isn’t.
It’ll take a while before we see how right, or misplaced, Bloomberg’s beliefs are, but until then, it’s the best drama we’re going to get in an offseason bereft of brand new tweaks and Rex Chapman tweets. So enjoy it, and remember: only 187 days until Big Blue Madness.