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Friday, October 1, 2010

Where are the UNC Board of Governors?!?!? - UNC-Chapel Hill athletic scandal.

Over the last several months I have attempted to stay out of this whole debacle that we have all witnessed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I don't want to continually address the context of the situation and upset the apple cart of those associated with that university, but if I can wake up one alumni at a time to the fact that this is a truly sad and devastating situation, then maybe I will not have to write anything else about the subject. It seems that the only people that don't recognize that there are serious problems associated with that university are the supporters of the sports program at that university, whether they be alumni or just fans. Folks, this ain't professional sports. This is an academic institution that represents the interests of all of the citizens of our state.

It is understandable when people, who don't have an academic association with that university or another institution in the UNC system, don't see the major implications of the cheating; whether it be academic or monetary that have taken place in association with the football program run by Butch Davis and consented to by the board of directors, Chancellor Holden Thorpe, and athletic director Dick Baddour. What we honest to God need to see is a full scale independent investigation by authorities representative of the state of North Carolina and not associated with UNCCH.

It is high time that this happens. What is truly sad is what we have witnessed from the Board of Governors of the State of North Carolina university system. We did not see this same hands off approach displayed 20 years ago when CD Spangler, acting as the head of the University of North Carolina system, and the Board of Governors went after NC State's basketball coach Jim Valvano with a zeal that led to his ultimate dismissal and the placement of a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumni as North Carolina State University's athletic director. Where is the Board of Governors now?

I read a very thorough quote on the website Pack Pride, in which a poster gave a very damning indictment of what happened 20 years ago and compared it to what we are seeing in relation to the Butch Davis and University of North Carolina football team scandal:
''I am pleased Chancellor Poulton has submited his resignation,'' said William Johnson of Lillington, a member of the board of governors. ''He has taken action in the best interest of the university. I think he set a good example which I hope Coach Valvano will follow. It would be in the best interest of the university for those who had any responsibility for abuses of academics to sever their ties with the university.''

Forget that the NCAA ultimately completely absolved V, and NCSU for that matter, of any academic abuse. The alleged "academic abuse" Johnson spoke of was never documented or otherwise factually supported. Contrast this situation to how the BOT and BOG are handling the current mess in Chapel Hill.

The other striking thing I've noticed in going back through this stuff is how open and forthcoming Valvano was in discussing everything that was going on, and offering explanations/comments on the allegations, allegations which again were ultimately determined to be false. Again, contrast that to the current situation.

Some examples of V's interaction with the media during the investigation:

"This has been the worst experience of my entire life," he said. "My only consolation is that my father's not here to see it."

"Usually I talk to my wife [Pam] when things go wrong," he says. "But she's so upset about all this, I can't talk to her. So, I just go crazy. I sit here, and I think that there's going to be a book going out all over the country that says I have no integrity.

"There's no place I can go to escape it, and nothing I can do to stop it. It's going to happen. I never thought after 22 years in this profession that my whole life would be changed by a manager and a writer whom I've never met. The funniest thing about it is all the times I've had people come to me and want to write a book, and I said no because I figured, Who wants to read a book about me? Guess I had that one wrong.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience, that I'm floating around watching all this. I'm not dealing with it well at all. I used to be the guy who wanted to talk to everyone. Now, I only want to be with close friends. This isn't temporary, either. I think this will change me for good."

And then after the investigation:

''This is not a typical major infractions case that we usually deal with,'' said Charles Smart, the N.C.A.A. director of infractions. ''This is not a case where there's academic irregularities. This is not a case where there are cash payments.''

Funny, aren't these precisely the 2 things UNC is guilty of? Nonetheless, even after being exonerated by the NCAA's investigation, V still stood up and accepted responsibility unlike you know who.

Valvano said that being barred from the N.C.A.A. tournament was ''as serious a hurt and blow as I have had personally in my life.'' ''We accept the N.C.A.A. findings and its punishment,'' he added.

Valvano maintained he had no knowledge of any violations. ''We did not have any individual in any level of our department who intended to violate any rule, but we not have in place the proper procedure to insure that no rules would be violated,'' he said.

Finally, let's not forget the horrible transgressions that resulted in 2 years probation, post-season ban, and loss of scholarships for NCSU:

Tickets were sold or exchanged for merchandise worth up to $150 each, the N.C.A.A. said. Shoes, valued at $75 a pair, were traded for shoes and apparel of equal value at a local sporting goods store, the report said.
I want you to understand that I am angry about what I am witnessing here. The obvious double standard is so evident. 20 years ago we were constantly reminded about how North Carolina State ran a dirty program, while the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was as pristine as the wind driven snow. Well what do you think about that today?

John Blake was a direct hire by Butch Davis. There are no ifs, ands, or buts and no one can deny that fact. The tutor that was directly hired by Butch Davis for his son is also implicated in writing class assigned papers for UNCCH athletes. And we are led to believe by supporters of the university and Coach Davis that he had no association (or knowledge of) any of this. Let's be honest folks, that defies logic.

The latest information, that sadly has to come from a national source(Yahoo sports -- Money trail ties agent, ex-UNC coach - 9/29/2010), shows a multitude of payments directly associated between Agent Gary Wichard and John Blake before and during his tenure as a recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach for the Tarheel football team. There is an appearance of impropriety here that needs to be investigated. And apparently there is a lack of willingness of people in the UNCCH administration to forthrightly investigate these relationships. And again where is the local media to assume the investigative reporting role that they so passionately and thoroughly assumed in 1989 and 1990 as they sought to convict North Carolina State's coach Jim Valvano of wrongdoing.

Where are the Board of Governors? Do you know that some of these people live in our own area? (Board of Governor's members) This board is disproportionally made up of people who are graduates of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Is the reason that they don't want to investigate, because of their alma mater? The appearance of impropriety is impropriety.

It isn't too late. We all make mistakes. Some of us even acknowledge the mistakes that we have made. It is time that the win at all costs system of athletics at Chapel Hill be brought back to reality. It is my hope that the Secretary of State of North Carolina will honestly and thoroughly investigate this situation and get to the bottom of what is and has been going on over there. This has been a black eye to our state and many of us recognize that.

I will not pretend that I am unbiased in this situation. I have not liked what I've seen over these many years. The rumors and innuendo have been there for a long time. All anyone asks for is a level playing field. This is not about athletics. This is about integrity. This is about knowing the difference between right and wrong. Collegiate athletics are not supposed to be a breeding ground for money laundering and illegal agent activity. We all saw what happened to the North Carolina State University athletic program and supposedly it was about the student-athlete paradigm. Well, what we have seen in the past 20 years is North Carolina State run a completely above board athletic program. Can the same be said for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill?

The question that begs to be asked is this one, and I would like to ask this to the Board of Governors and local media. If what we're witnessing right now in Chapel Hill had taken place at any of the other 15 institutions that make up the University of North Carolina system would they be given the same luxuries to investigate themselves that we have witnessed with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill?

This is all going to come out in the wash. There's nowhere to run and there is nowhere to hide. Those involved need to come forward and provide the honest truth about what has been happening in Chapel Hill. The sooner they come forward, the more lenient the punishment will be, but there is going to be punishment.

Our state motto is "esse quam verdi," which means "to be, rather than to seem." As I've stated already this is a black eye to our great state. Perception means nothing, if their is no substance behind it. Is everyone equal under the eyes of the law and by-laws or do we choose to divide ourselves up amongst socio-economic and privileged classes? Who the heck is Butch Davis anyway? What has he contributed to our state? The people associated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill should be embarrassed and ashamed to be associated with what has been brought to the perception of that institution.

The leaders of the University of North Carolina system and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill need to realize that what they are doing is historical. This is going to have implications for years to come, because the caste system that is our university system has been fully exposed, but in the end righteousness will prevail. The university system does not belong to the members of the board of governors and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill does not belong only to those closely associated with that university. That university belongs to all of the people of this State past, present, and future.

We have seen a lot of scandals in the state over the last few years. None of them take precedence over the others. One is as shameful as any of the others. What we have learned is that there are very few innocent bystanders associated with any of these scandals. There is corruption from the top to the bottom and all you have to do is follow the money trail. There have been lots of ill-gotten gains. No wonder the state is suffering economically at this time. If we do not address these issues of corruption, then all of the other efforts are fruitless. With no moral foundation or principles, anything we do is a waste of our time.

The number one economic development tool that we need to work on in our state is our moral and honor code. The corruption is killing our economy. People want to talk about innovation and ingenuity and I personally don't believe that you can have that mindset without a fair playing field. We need to reward people based on merit and not nepotism and/or class. The cream is being suppressed and we need the cream to be able to rise to the top. That should be the goal of people who care. Do you care?

State of North Carolina University System -- We've Got a Problem Here!!! - September 18, 2010


Leroy Corso said...

Awesome entry, Hickory Hound.

dtjwnbarr said...

Excellent article. Whether you are a fan of UNC, NC State, or any other school in the university system, everyone is affected by this scandal. The BOG has to become involved, and then clean house of anyone associated to this scandal. This is no longer about proving anything since so much has been proven. It is time to take action, and the longer the delay, the bigger the loss of integrity to UNC, the BOG, and the entire university system.

Anonymous said...

Well written!
The double standard illuminated is amazing.
They have been exposed.
Never again can they claim there are two sets of standards: one for UNC and one for everyone else.

Harry said...

I have tried very hard not to compare what is happenings in the UNC investigation to what happened 20 years ago in the NC State investigation. Maybe that is because I live in Raleigh and the local newspaper at the time helped lead the witch hunt against Chancellor Poulton and Jim Valvano. But your editorial really brought to light the issues that the BOT and the BOG need to be on top of. Thanks you. WEll Done!

Anonymous said...

Amen Hickory Hound, please send this to every News Paper editorial page in North Carolina.

Anonymous said...

Funny this was conveniently omitted:

Equally disturbing was information revealed by Hugh Fuller, head of N.C. State's tutoring program.

Fuller released to the Raleigh News & Observer seven years' worth of memos sent by faculty members to school administrators, detailing complaints about poor academic performance among athletes. Fuller is responsible for arranging for classroom tutoring and academic assistance for all university students.

The memos chronicle a pattern of abuse both shocking in its brashness and clever in its use of the system:

--Academic tutors hired by the athletic department did course work for basketball players. One player, for instance, would customarily bring to a writing class essays written by tutors, then spend the class time--when the actual writing was to have been done--copying the tutor's work.

--Athletes abused policies that allow students to withdraw from classes for academic or psychological reasons. If a player was failing a class, an assistant coach would pull the athlete out.

-In a memo dated Dec. 15, 1986, Fuller wrote to Associate Provost Lawrence M. Clark that one star Wolfpack player was "essentially caught . . . cheating" in an English course but still passed the course.

--Fuller said one player was kicked out of study hall after bringing a television set to a session. He said instructors were given orders to reinstate the player.

Valvano told the Faculty Senate that the basketball program has a graduation rate of 86%. The Faculty Senate is the main voice for the 1,445 faculty members and serves as an adviser to the chancellor. The Poole Commission report showed the true graduation rate to be 24% from N.C. State and 32% including players who transferred to other schools.

James Thomas Shell said...

I appreciate this response and you are entitled to it. Do the comments above state that NC State players had term papers written for them. That is academic fraud.

We won't know what the real graduation rate of students and athletes at UNCCH should be, because of the grade inflation and corruption that apparently runs rampant throughout the UNCCH academic system.

Did Fuller have an ax to grind? There were many things that were stated during that investigation that were found to be materially false. Was the "verbatim copying" supposition proven?

OOOh... OOOh... some idiot kid brought a TV to class he should be kicked out of the University and they reinstated him. Give me a break. I'm sure that he was taught not to do that again. Is that an ultimate sin?

Seems to me that flat out having an admittance by University officials that someone else was doing school work for another student is a lot worse. This is fraud. Do you want to hire someone who has a degree that has done that? Does this not diminish the stature of UNCCH? Does this not upset the students that work hard to obtain their degree?

Valvano admitted to mistakes and paid the ultimate price for them with his job. Are you willing to admit to mistakes in the UNCCH academic system and is the administration at Chapel Hill willing to do the honorable thing, which they preached 20 years ago and step down.

Look at what happened after Valvano left and how stringent the ACC and State of NC was on State without batting an eye towards the shenanigans going on in Chapel Hill.

St. James Thomas Valvano said...

So Fuller, with seven years worth of memos, had an axe to grind, huh? How about PE professor Richard Lauffer who claimed grades had been changed for Chris Washburn? How about the Faculty Senate, who discovered 10 of 12 players on academic probation. How about Chancellor Bruce Poulton, who readmitted suspended players in violation of university policies? Or Charles Shackleford admitting he took over $60,000 from an agent and a booster while he was playing at State?

You are entitled to your schadenfreude at UNC receiving the kind of colonoscopy you feel NCSU got in the late 80s, but please do not assert nor imply that UNC's current issues are of some greater scale than the ones of State until all the facts are known.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Fuller was lying. Fuller had an axe to grind.

Do you have any evidence for that because I actually provided media reporting of the day and not from the evil N&O but from a newspaper with no skin in the game. If you have evidence Fuller is lying please give it and when I say evidence I don't mean page 15 of the Wolfpack Fan's Guide to the 1989 Valvano Scandal.

James Thomas Shell said...

You are entitled to your vitriol also and I have stated that State did make mistakes, but why did the NCAA say what they said?

And I am sorry that the program in Chapel Hill isn't as virtuous as it has been characterized, but we can look at all of the fine examples that have shown otherwise over my 44 year lifetime and even prior to that.

There are a lot more people that think Jim Valvano was a good man other than myself. And I would not ever tear Saint Dean or Saint Roy down the way that your school has attempted to tear down Jimmy V.

James Thomas Shell said...

Oh and that info you provide is from before the NCAA findings came out. So your dates really don't prove anything do they.

And I have stated before that Shackleford and Washburn were problems and they were gone before they could graduate. I have two words that nip your diatribe on those two -- Lawrence Taylor.

If we are going to get into conjecture let's talk about Joe Forte, Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, and the list goes on and on of people who it has been said who received extra benefits and played with agents.

Are they clean?

Thank God for twitter and facebook.