UNC academic scandal shameful to all former Tar Heel athletes

Price1I’m not a UNC fan. But I am a fan of intercollegiate athletics because I was a four-year, Division 1 student-athlete.

I also competed directly against former Tar Heel athletes who were on campus during the time that these sham, fake classes reportedly began (1993). So I’m offended as well as outraged when I saw the release of Kenneth Wainstein’s report yesterday.

According to the Associated Press, the report states that from 1993-2001, more than 3,100 students (of which almost half were student-athletes) enrollment and were given credit for these “paper classes.” If I was a UNC student-athlete on campus then, I would be absolutely disgraced or if this happened at my alma mater (the University of Kentucky). But this is UNC. I’m not going to to rehash the details and findings, which you can read here.

The clear irony as well as the reason why this has more of a black mark than most is because UNC has always prided as being above every other ACC institution academically and has always looked down their noses at everyone else. Well not right now.

And does anyone really think it began in 1993? I’d make the argument it began FAR before that, while Dean Smith was still coaching and before John Swofford left Chapel Hill in 1997 to take over as ACC Commissioner. But that’s simply a justified assumption.

Now, we’re all left wondering here and across the state line up on Tobacco Road just what if anything the NCAA might do in levying penalties and sanctions against Swofford’s beloved Tar Heels?

I could be flippant and sarcastic in saying that it’s unlikely the NCAA will do little to anything in the way of penalties because it’s UNC. But I think that’s exactly what happens…little to nothing at all. The NCAA’s four-year statute of limitation could still apply due to “a pattern of willful violations that continues into the past four years.”

Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel wrote a terrific piece this afternoon and nails it, saying this could be NCAA President Mark Emmert’s mulligan and chance to exert some element of control over member institutions again.

Emmert and company put forth sanctions against Penn State almost immediately in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Will Emmert and the NCAA act swiftly and remove wins from Dean Smith and the beloved Tar Heels basketball program. I don’t think there’s any chance in powder blue hell that happens.

At the end of the day, I don’t think most UNC fans care one lick what happens in the way of penalties, except for removing those banners from the Smith Center rafters or obviously a postseason NCAA Tournament ban. I’ll be shocked if either happens but if it does, I might actually put on that ugly shade of blue for once in a show of support.

Price Atkinson is a University of Kentucky graduate, lives in Greenville, SC and is a co-host on the “Straight up with Sturge” radio show on ESPN Upstate

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