Tag Archives: University of North Carolina

Virginia and North Carolina Both Got What They Deserved

After a hard fought game, Virginia left Chapel Hill with what it deserved – a victory over the struggling, but athletic North Carolina Tar Heels. Virginia snapped a 7-game losing streak to a Carolina team that also got what it deserved on Saturday.

After the NCAA issued the University of North Carolina a “get out of jail free” pass for academic fraud that kept its athletes eligible for almost 20 years while robbing them of any chance for a real education, UNC got what it deserved Saturday as well – a loss and a pot to stew in until the teams meet again next year.

UNC coach Larry Fedora was fuming as the clock ticked down to zeros and Virginia lined up in its victory formation. Fedora and the Carolina nation were outraged at a no-call on what they felt was a face mask penalty on a 4th down, game ending sack by Chris Peace. Carolina fans aren’t used to calls not going their way. Ignore the fact that Carolina just as easily could have been called for a block below the waste on the same play or the missed holding call on Eli Hanback the play before. UNC is supposed to get the breaks and get the calls, whether their athletes go to class or not.

When the NCAA acknowledged that Carolina ran an academic charade for 17 years that helped keep its athletes eligible to compete in its revenue sports, but then stated that the academic curriculum of its members is outside the jurisdiction of the NCAA infractions team…you might say Carolina is used to having its way. Maybe Carolina fans should go back and listen to the interviews and read the chronologies laid out by their internal whistle-blowers describing barely literate athletes getting “As” in classes that never met and turning in papers they never wrote before they get too indignant about a no-call that didn’t go their way.

The University of North Carolina, after spending $ 17 million dollars defending its systemic academic fraud, essentially threw the entire university under the proverbial bus by stating that their sham classes were part of the regular curriculum and were available to all students. Wow, the entire university population can take no-show classes? That must be very comforting to the parents of students and to major benefactors of the university.

While UNC was busy throwing its academic integrity out the window to defend its athletic department, Virginia was busy taking care of business on the field, resurrecting its dormant football program. Jordon Ellis in particular, personifies the 2017 Virginia Cavaliers. On Saturday in Chapel Hill, Ellis had his most productive day as a Cavalier. His legendary work ethic was on full display as he consistently ran for yards after contact, always fell forward, and gained needed yards on 3rd and 4th down.

Jordon Ellis embodies what we love about college athletics. He is a humble, hard-working young man who waited his turn and is reaping the rewards along with his teammates. The best news for Ellis and for Virginia fans is that Ellis is a red-shirt junior and Virginia fans can look forward to him grinding out 137 yards against UNC again next year in Scott Stadium.

Virginia played a far from perfect game against the Tar Heels on Saturday, but they made plays when the game was in the balance. That is what good teams do. I was disappointed that the ‘Hoos did not convert UNC turnovers into more points. The Virginia defense broke down twice against talented freshman Michael Carter allowing two long gains that resulted in or set up two Carolina touchdowns. Virginia will need more nearly perfect performances to generate more wins in the second half of the season. Big tests await the Cavaliers, starting Saturday with a home game against a rapidly improving Boston College program that Virginia has never beaten.

If karma is indeed about retributive justice, then maybe UNC just made their first, very small installment to bring the scales back to balance and Virginia a might be reaping the rewards for the hard work of the past two years.

For the first time ever, I think I might pull for the Blue Devils when UNC and Duke play in basketball this season.

Note for this coming Saturday – I realize that no one loves a 12:30 kickoff, but this team is 5-1. Boston College’s series record against UVa is 5-0 and they are coming off a huge win against Louisville. This Virginia has earned a crowd of 45K or more to help them clinch a bowl bid for the first time since 2011. Not loving the kickoff time, but loving this 2017 Wahoo team – Bloodies and Screw Drivers at 10:00 on a beautiful fall morning in C’ville ain’t all bad.

Yolanda Kumar was a Willing Participant in Academic Fraud at the University of Missouri

I’ve been a fan of college sports for close to 30 years. In that time, there’s been one narrative that has been repeatedly stressed and that is the idea of the student-athlete. These players aren’t just athletes. No. They are student-athletes. 

However, the concept of the student-athlete is just that. A concept. An idea. A thought. It’s not real.

These kids go to college to play sports and for more than a few of them, going to class and learning something is nothing more than a casual inconvenience. It’s such an inconvenience that many athletic departments allow the kids to not only skip class but also provide tutors to take their exams for them. We’re talking about academic fraud.

Allegations of academic fraud recently came to light at Notre Dame and Missouri, with the most infamous example having taken place at North Carolina.

Here’s what’s important to remember about academic fraud. It takes more than one person to commit the fraud. I don’t say this in an attempt to minimize the responsibility that the athletes hold. The reason I say this is that the tutor who made the personal decision to go along with the fraudulent activity is equally at fault. This is particularly true in the activity that allegedly occurred at Missouri.

The tutor at the center of the Missouri controversy is Yolanda Kumar. Kumar was a tutor with the Total Person Program and recently decided that she could no longer carry the burden of what she claims to have participated in. She confessed to her academic sins on her Facebook page:

“I have knowingly participated in academic dishonesty in my position as a tutor at the University of Missouri-Columbia Intercollegiate Athletic department, which is not limited to assistance with assignments. I have taken and assisted with entrance assessment, completed entire courses, and I been present to provide assistance with online assessments. It was encouraged, promoted, and supported by at least two Academic Coordinators for athletes in revenue generating sports, however, the wide spread desperation to succeed by other student-athletes at the bottom of an inverted pyramid of the organization’s construct cross (sic) multiple sports. I self-reported on November 2 and naively wanted to close the door on the manner after seeking counsel. I immediately resigned from my position on November 7 prior to meeting with a member for compliance, general counsel, and an individual that reports to the chancellor.

“You are able to see this post because I respect and honor your thoughts of me. I wanted you to hear it from me first. I apologize for disappointing you.

“I just can’t carry this burden anymore.”

It was noble of her to step forward and to come clean with what she had taken part in, but it doesn’t negate the fact that she was a willing participant. It’s for that reason that I have no sympathy for her and her request for $35,000 via her Whistleblower Legal & Expense Fund GoFundMe page.
I suppose that I can appreciate her effort to raise money for her legal defense. Legal representation isn’t cheap regardless of the reason that the defense is needed. However, her attempt to use the fundraising page to generate living expenses is disingenuous.
The reason she needs help with living expenses is because she’s a teacher who engaged in academic fraud. I can’t imagine that there are many institutions at any level of education willing to hire someone with this transgression on their record. And that is solely on her.
Nobody truly forced her to commit academic fraud. Her job may have been held over her head and, if so, that’s unacceptable but not surprising. She would have been better off taking a principled approach at the time, even if it meant losing her position with the Total Person Program. At least she would still be considered employable as a teacher. Being principled in hindsight gets her nowhere.
Now go back and examine her GoFundMe page once more. Do you recognize the name of Mary Willingham? You should. Willingham was the whistleblower at North Carolina. But Willingham was a true whistleblower. Not an opportunistic whistleblower like Kumar.
Willingham did it the right way. She was principled in her actions. Willingham saw what was happening at North Carolina and stepped forward with the widespread instances of fake classes. Unlike Kumar, Willingham was not a willing participant. Part of the reason she won $335,000 in a settlement with North Carolina was because she had to work in a hostile environment after stepping forward.
As for the solidarity that Willingham is showing Kumar with her $250 donation? While it’s admirable of Willingham to show her support for Kumar and disdain for academic fraud, the role that each woman played at their respective schools could not be any more different.
My advice to Kumar would be this – be remorseful for not stepping forward when she was first approached about taking part in academic fraud and to let the NCAA issue whatever sanctions it may levy on Missouri. Beyond that, I believe Kumar just opens herself up to added scrutiny.
E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Pixabay

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It Could Be Worse

This season has been full of a lot of doom and gloom for the University of Michigan football this season and that’s being nice about it.  From lopsided losses to quarterback controversy to the athletic director stepping down.  It really just hasn’t been a lot of fun so far.

I wanted to write about something fun this week but last weeks game against Northwestern, while being a win, was pretty atrocious and the Wolverines have this saturday off.  There’s nothing fun about that.  There hasn’t been much else going on this season that’s been any fun either.  We got the excitement of Drake Johnson breaking out only to have him out-carried by De’Veon Smith the following week.

So if you’re keeping score at home, that’s one good moment during a season of suck.

Now we have University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel piling on with some odd comments about Michigan athletics graduation rates.

Schlissel gave an interview to a student paper in which he said that the football program was had a tendency to recruit players that (I’m paraphrasing here) are good at football but not good in the classroom.  Schlissel admitted that things have been better than in the past but the past was bad.  Coach Brady Hoke has refuted this, saying that all 69 of his seniors have graduated.

You know?  That’s not fun, but that’s damned impressive.

I went to college.  It wasn’t an institution as hard to get accepted into as the University of Michigan but I didn’t go to Basket Weaving University either so I know what it’s like.  College was a good time but it’s not all fun and games.  I also didn’t have to dedicate almost every waking hour to preparing for football either.  I worked 20 to 30 hours a week outside of classes but that was it.  College isn’t a breeze to graduate from.

But let’s be honest here: a lot of these kids don’t even care about graduating or getting a degree.  For many of them, football is their life.  Even if they aren’t drafted many of them will still try out for other teams or head north to the CFL in hopes of making it big.  An average lineman in college still stands a shot at at least making the practice squad of a team because an NFL team can never have too many linemen.  So the fact that Brady Hoke has graduated all his seniors really is pretty impressive.

The only reason this is even being mentioned is because of the trouble that the University of North Carolina is in with the allegations that it pushes its athletes into classes where they don’t even have to show up.  Supposedly, UNC is getting its athletes to take specific classes that are incredibly easy in order to maintain their academic eligibility.  That’s a pretty big deal when you consider the success that both the basketball and football programs have had their recently.  It could lead to wins and possibly even a championship vacated.  When you look at it from that angle, Michigan’s graduation rate seems more impressive when you look at the number of North Carolina athletes that are drafted compared to Michigan in recent years.  UNC has had four players go in the first round in the last three years compared to Michigan’s one.  You know if you’re a first round talent and you know that you aren’t going to need a degree.

That’s not exactly fun either but there is a bit of a silver lining there.

Michigan may be slumping now but things could be much worse.

North Carolina is currently undergoing the investigation mentioned above.

Florida State’s star quarterback is currently under investigation for sexual assault.

USC had a cornerback lie about how he sprained his ankles only to have that lie blow up in his face on a national level.

So yeah, losing isn’t fun but it could be worse.  It could be so, so much worse.

At the end of the day, Michigan can look back and say that at least they aren’t under that level of scrutiny.  Sure they had the Shane Morris situation but mishandling a concussion is on a completely different level than sexually assaulting a woman.  Yeah, the students might have held a protest against the athletic director but no one lied about jumping from a balcony to save someone only to later be proven a complete liar.  I’d much rather have my team have a crappy season than be the center of scandals like these.  We don’t have wins but at least this year we have our pride.

Have there been problems in the past?  Yes.  I’m not going to pretend like there wasn’t but you know what?  We’re talking about this year.  We’re talking about this year because we need to find something good to talk about.  It’s going to be a long, cold winter but it will be even longer and even colder if we don’t have that spark of something good to think about.

And just in case that’s not enough, here’s a puppy.



Alex White Extreme DUI Not Excusable…Nor is it a Shock

by Ryan Isley

Usually when you see the term ‘BA .174’ next to a pitcher’s name, it would be a positive thing because it would be the opponent’s batting average against that pitcher. In the case of Colorado Rockies pitcher Alex White, ‘BA .174’ was about as negative as you could ever have because the ‘BA’ stood for ‘blood alcohol’ instead of ‘batting average’.

This time, even I can’t defend White. For those of you who know me or at least follow me on Twitter, you know that is saying something.

Listen, athletes are going to make mistakes. They are human after all, and all of us humans make mistakes. However, when an athlete make a glaring mistake like White did this past week, it is going to be magnified to the one millionth degree – and they need to remember that.

When White was pulled over late Saturday night and later arrested on charges that were first reported as DUI, he forgot that simple lesson about his life being in the spotlight. But that is no excuse for the 23-year-old’s actions.

Continue reading Alex White Extreme DUI Not Excusable…Nor is it a Shock