Athletic basket weaving at North Carolina

Many of you may have read about the ongoing dispute between the NCAA and the University of North Carolina. The issue centers around softball college courses offered to athletes and other students to garner an easy ‘A’.

UNC’s argument against the NCAA is novel. First, the Tar Heels argue that the NCAA is overreaching its jurisdiction by checking on academic offerings by its member institutions. Secondly, the easy courses were taken by both athletes and ‘regular’ students as well. 

“The University takes seriously its obligations to comply with NCAA bylaws, but fundamentally believes that the matters at issue here were of an academic nature that do not implicate the NCAA bylaws in the manner alleged,” UNC’s attorneys Rick Evrard and Bob Kirchner wrote in a 102-page response to the governing agency for collegiate athletics. In other words, the NCAA should stick to athletics and academic institutions are in charge of academics.

The professor in question, Deborah Crowder, and her boss, former African studies department chairman Julius Nyang’oro, had created classes that never met and had no instruction in part to help athletes stay eligible to play sports. The classes began in 1993, investigators found, and they continued until 2011 for the upper-level African studies class.

The NCAA has accused UNC of five serious violations, including lack of institutional control over athletics and offering impermissible benefits by giving athletes special access to the bogus classes. Unlike Louisville, UNC has stated that they will not apply any self-penalties pending the NCAA decision.

The case has been ongoing for over five years. The 2005 championship men’s basketball team used the bogus classes extensively and the academic counselors for the football team had warned coaches in 2009 that professor Crowder’s retirement meant that the classes players had leaned on would no longer be available.

If UNC were able to win this case against the NCAA, it would mean that only the schools themselves would be responsible for policing fraud and applying appropriate penalties.

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