Phi Beta Cons

UNC-Chapel Hill’s B.S. Degree in Eligibility

The latest revelation in the UNC–Chapel Hill sports scandal sort of ties lots of elements all together in a big, filthy bow. Despite the school’s insistence that the scandal was completely academic, with a rogue professor and department head and his assistant providing no-show (and no-work) classes that anyone, not just athletes, could take, two pieces of evidence have appeared recently putting that lie to rest. The first was an academic counselor’s study published last week that showed UNC was admitting football and basketball players who were several years of intensive remedial education away from being able to pass a rigorous college course.

The second is an admission by a former football player that counselors in UNC’s Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes deliberately steered himself and other players into the corrupt no-show courses and other classes that offered easy grades in order to keep their averages high enough for eligibility.

Michael McAdoo, who now plays professional football in Canada after being cut from an NFL team, said he didn’t mind at the time that he was getting good grades for almost no effort at a highly competitive university. But now, he says of UNC’s recruiters, “they said academics is the first thing they were going to push — ‘You are going to do academics and then play sports.’ But come to find out it just felt like it was all a scam.”

So now it has been established that there were corrupt classes that gave good grades for almost no work, that the school was admitting players who were reading at elementary and junior-high levels, and that academic advisors directed the academically unprepared players to those bogus classes, all to keep them eligible and to make the school’s Academic Progress Report look good. The UNC–Chapel Hill administration, UNC system, and NCAA continue to run for cover instead of facing up to this problem, which is probably the modus operandi for many Division I schools.