Google Groups
Join To Get Blog Update Notices
Visit the Hickory Hound Group

Saturday, September 18, 2010

State of North Carolina University System -- We've Got a Problem Here!!!

To my family and friends associated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I am sorry for what is going to have to be said here, but it is time. I truly don't understand why what is happening down there is being allowed to drag on in the manner that it is being allowed to drag on in. I would love for someone to explain why this spectacle is being allowed to develop and come to the fore in the manner in which it has, but I can assure you that it most certainly can and should be handled better than what we have seen thus far.

It is time that the Board of Governors of this State set aside the biases and move forward in cleaning up this mess, What we are seeing at the oldest institution in the UNC system can best be described as CRAZY. There is a definite Lack of Institutional Control and no excuse is going to cover up the lack of forthrightness from Chancellor Holden Thorp and the Board of Trustees in charge of the Academic Integrity of that institution.

What we have seen cannot be explained away by crying about rogue Sports Agents and Representatives. Who let someone like this Chris Hawkins character to have access to UNC-Chapel Hill facilities and access to its players without checking him out or seeing what he was up to. Who could not have known about Marvin Austin's travels and lifestyle, when he was posting it all over the internet. And the nail in the proverbial coffin on the Academic Integrity front is the Tutorgate issue and the lack of forthrightness in which it is and has been being handled. Reports are that University Administration is manipulating the Honor Court System. It is visible to anyone who is not closely tied to the University that there is definitely a systemic problem involving UNC-Chapel Hill. The reports of 13 visits to the campus by NCAA investigators, since the investigation's inception, should help you understand that.

The Raleigh News and Observer has taken some time to get moving forward with its investigation of an issue that came to light in late May and Early June, but an article this morning certainly does bring some important issues forward. The article is authored by the News and Observer's Executive Editor John Drescher and is entitled UNC's Heels must be held to the fire:

When UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp appeared before the Faculty Council last week to discuss investigations into the Tar Heel football program, the scene was set for the faculty to blitz him with questions.

Thorp signaled serious problems a few weeks earlier in opening a news conference by saying, "To anyone who loves this university, I'm sorry about what I have to tell you." Shortly after, 13 players were kept out of the season-opening game in Atlanta.

So how many questions did Thorp get last week from the Faculty Council? Two. Not 22. Two. One more than one. The number of points the other team gets for tackling you in your end zone.

Steven Bachenheimer, a microbiology professor, asked whether UNC has relaxed its standards in seeking football glory. Tom Linden, a journalism professor, asked why UNC agreed to pay the associate head coach $74,500 in severance as he left UNC one step ahead of possible NCAA sanctions.

Good for them. But there were more than 75 council members in attendance. Here are a few questions the others should have asked:

1. You are investigating whether a tutor employed by the university to work with football players gave inappropriate aid. That tutor also worked for coach Butch Davis and tutored his high school son. Is it appropriate for a tutor to work for both the university and the football coach?

2. You have indicated that academic misconduct might have occurred. If so, who is ultimately responsible?

3. If the NCAA hadn't investigated football players and their relationships with agents, would UNC have learned of the possible academic cheating? If not, isn't that a problem?

4. Some players used social media to discuss their travels and possible contact with agents. Shouldn't UNC's compliance officers closely monitor Twitter and Facebook?

5. Will you conduct a sport-by-sport review to see whether other athletes might have received inappropriate academic aid?

6. Should the $70 million expansion of Kenan Stadium be cancelled or scaled back, depending on the results of the investigations?

7. Is UNC admitting more football players who don't meet typical UNC admission standards than it did five or 10 years ago?

8. Are you satisfied with the oversight of the athletic department?

9. Is it possible to have a winning football team and maintain top-rate academic standards for all students?

10. What have you learned about operating a Division I football program since starting your job as chancellor?

The Faculty Council missed an opportunity, but it will have another when it meets with Thorp next month. Our reporters will work to get answers to these questions.

The underside of big-time college sports isn't pretty. A university needs the faculty to be its conscience. At UNC, faculty members need to get engaged on this issue. They need to get in the game.

Agents (and/or Agent Runners) may be threatened with Prison and agents have gone to prison before over these types of issues we have seen involving this scandal. If you are utilizing a client as a runner (look up Kentwan Balmer's association to this scandal) to facilitate the transfer of money, then that does constitute money laundering. If you are wiring coaches cash (the allegations against John Blake)to steer a player, then that is money laundering. It is money laundering, because you are utilizing cash to skirt the technical merits of the law. Not only that, but it is a way to evade taxes.

Agents (especially runners) will be given some form of immunity to come clean and spill the beans. The agents are not going to go to prison to help save a University’s image. They will drag the University down with them. The coaches and players at any rogue university athletic programs would have to willingly participate in any such operation (scheme). The Money laundering and tax evasion issues make this a Federal offense, which brings in the FBI, along with the issue of interstate commerce. This means that the power (and ability) of the full force of the Federal Government can be utilized to track all of the money trails.

As far as the Academic scandal, the tenured professors should be insulated from any possible intimidation by any overzealous leadership looking to cover up what has been happening in athletics. So, why is there silence? I would be afraid, as a member of the faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill, that people would construe that the lack of academic integrity is not limited to the football team, that the lack of academic integrity is not limited to the athletic department, and/or that the lack of academic integrity is not limited to a couple of tutors and perhaps a rogue professor or two. The question begs to be asked, has this lack of academic integrity permeated the entire institution. Is it an integral part of the Chapel Hill culture. Are the Administrators and Faculty in Chapel Hill only paying lip service to academic integrity? Are they a part of the problem?

I believe that the silence from everyone with close ties to UNC-Chapel Hill, including the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors of the UNC system, is a sign of trouble within the institution itself. The only solution for the corruption is to bring in an outside group to independently investigate the entire structure of the university. There are just way too many conflicts of interest in this investigation. It has been obvious for years that there have been two sets of rules when it comes to the UNC system, those for Chapel Hill and those for everyone else. This structure needs to be brought back to its roots with a focus on real integrity. The silence and lack of openness suggests a dark undercurrent that must be exposed and eliminated.

I believe that the Alumni of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill need to step forward and say enough! And I believe the Alumni of the other Universities in the North Carolina system should also demand action. This scandal has already tarnished the image of UNC-Chapel Hill to a great extent, whether certain people want to live in denial about that reality or not. If this investigation into this corruption is allowed to drag out to its inevitable conclusion, without the admittance that there have been problems, then it is going to devalue a degree from Chapel Hill.

The Bottom Line is that there is no way out for UNC-Chapel Hill. They should do the right thing and plead mea culpa and throw themselves at the mercy of the NCAA, but is there a pervasive arrogance that makes them think that they are going to get away with this? Can they not see the shadow of the hammer coming down upon them. Are they willing to get themselves fried?!?

I love sports, but when it comes to sports it has been obvious that the tail has been wagging the dog for a long, long time down in Chapel Hill. The pushing the limits and win at all costs mindset has been fully exposed. People have gotten their identity wrapped up and intertwined in the success and failure of the athletic program to the extent that they forget the purpose of the university is to educate our future leaders, do vital research that will improve the quality of our lives, and act as an economic driver that progresses the vitality and sustainability of our State’s economy. Those priorities should never take a backseat to Athletic Entertainment.

This is not going to go away until some real action is taken. It is time to do just that.

No comments: