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Thursday, July 7, 2011

My letter to the UNC Board of Governors about the UNC-CH Football Scandal

Here is my letter to the entire UNC Board of Governors that I finished late last night and the response from Hannah Gage who is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the UNC System. I did have two typos that I have corrected in this copied version, they are in red italics. I wish my proof reading were better at 2am (haha):

Members of the Board of Governors,

I am writing this letter to you to ask why you have let this scandal at the University in Chapel Hill become such an embarrassment to both the State and our University System?

You are the overseers of all of the institutions within the UNC System. Oversight is an inherent responsibility related to your position within the UNC System. You have a fiduciary responsibility to operate in the best interests of the citizens of this State and the Alumni of every institution within that system. It is your responsibility to be fair and just when questions of the honor and integrity of the system arise. It is my contention that as a body you have failed to properly exercise your authority towards accountability in relation to the out of control happenings with the sports program and administrative duties of the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees in Chapel Hill; and to a lesser degree, the Athletic Director and Football Coach that the school.

This matter should have been expedited a long time ago. As the weeks pass, we are treated to more embarrassing revelations and challenges of integrity related to the University in Chapel Hill. We see more and more lawyers entering the scene and most of those lawyers are high profile attorneys who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. We see them providing consultation to students of the University who have been charged with wrongdoing in relation to the Amateur Athletic Bylaws of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and academic improprieties which are supposed to ultimately fall under your purview, because you are at the top of the pyramid. You are ultimately responsible. You are the ultimate administrators and guarantors of the Bylaws of the UNC system.

Two questions: (Actually More) 1) Where is the money coming from to pay these legal fees? 2) Has anyone asked if these students can afford these fees? 3) If these fees are paid by someone else, is someone asking about the connections? 4) If these fees are being provided pro bono, then would this not be considered an extra benefit and therefore render these athletes ineligible to compete? 5) Are these attorneys all charging their standard rate or are they discounting? 6) And finally, how is it that all of these lawyers appear to be graduates, big supporters of their Alma Mater, and athletic boosters associated with UNC-Chapel Hill? Sure does seem like a conflict of interests to me... The recent cases of Michael McAdoo and Quinton Coples sure spring to mind in relation to the questions above. And there are certainly others.

By looking at the UNC system website, it is obvious that most of you have close ties to UNC-Chapel Hill. Most of you graduated from there. It doesn't take a scientist from Cape Kennedy to understand that there are definite conflicts of interest related to this issue and a fact that UNC-CH connected board members hold the numbers when it comes to any votes taken towards action on this subject matter and any investigations related to this subject matter. Tell me I am wrong. Is the personal interest related to UNC-Chapel Hill the predominate variable in this equation?

I hope that you don't think that I take pleasure in writing this letter to you, because honestly I don't. I understand that many of you feel that you have a vested interest in this representation of your University and the promotion of "The Carolina Way." Honest people will admit that this has never been reality. It was all a marketing ploy to justify elevating Chapel Hill above other similar institutions. Chapel Hill has always had something to be proud of in relation to its history as the first born of our fine university system. All of the grandiose promotion at the expense of others has been completely unnecessary and has led to a lot of resentment, not from the jealousy as many of the Chapel Hill vested surmise, but instead because of the arrogance and belittling that has been fostered, whether implicitly or explicitly, by the Powers That Be who are associated with UNC-Chapel Hill.

My questions to you are 1) Are there different sets of rules in relation to UNC-Chapel Hill versus the other UNC institutions? 2) If there are then why and how can this be justified? 3) If laws have been broken (Federal, State, Felonies, Misdemeanors) in relation to this scandal, is the BOG going to ensure that those infractions are fully adjudicated or is there going to be some sort of plea bargaining or immunity process? 4) Why has there been no independent investigation created to get to the bottom of all of this?

In the end, I believe that the release of the Notices of Allegations and Infractions is your final chance to act in accordance with your responsibilities as the Governance of the North Carolina University System. In too many cases, we see leadership in this State that wants to sit on their hands and wait for issues to be brought to them on a silver platter. Folks, that is not leadership. You may hope that this situation is minimized and just goes away, but the momentum has been building for over a year towards a negative conclusion. Do you really want to chance a disastrous outcome, while people see you sitting on your hands? What is that going to look like. What will the value of that perception hold?

I implore you to please do the right thing and expedite this investigation towards its conclusion, because this is harming the asset of University Higher Education in what has been looked upon as one of the greatest Higher Educational systems in the world. Do you really want to risk that over a Football Coach who has no ties to this State and a bunch of players who  chose the low road over doing the right thing.

What example are you setting for the future? What legacy are you leaving for the future generations of people who have ties to the State of North Carolina? Step up and do the right thing.

James Thomas Shell

Hickory, NC 28601
UNC-Wilmington 1989

The response of Mrs. Gage:

Mr. Shell,

Thank you for taking the time and sharing your concerns with us about athletics at UNC Chapel Hill. I can assure you we take this issue very seriously. The process is moving forward and we've been asked not to comment by the NCAA.

Thank you for your concern.
Hannah D Gage


If anyone would like to write a letter to the UNC Board of Governors, regarding this issue and your concerns, here is the e-mail listing to cut and paste when sending the letter to the entire UNC BoG :

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goheelsnyc said...

I am a big Carolina fan, and am attracted to the Carolina Way.

While this original post has merit, it is written from the perspective of a NCSU fan and one not wholly familiar with UNC athletics or the institution.

In 2004, UNC basketball recruit JamesOn Curry was caught in a marijuana sting at his high school in Alamance and was pretty much dropped and abandoned by the UNC Family. It was a case in which a young undercover officer targeted the big-man-on-campus, and after repeated overtures the basketball star accepted the offer to engage in some minor marijuana- trafficking at the school and was busted. It was a blatant set-up, but no one (current or alum) from Carolina counseled the young man or provided legal representation.

However a fellow student also charged in the sting opted for legal representation and went to court, where his case was dimissed.
Curry, the all-time leading high school basketball scorer in the state of North Carolina, went on to enroll at Oklahoma State University and made a NCAA basketball tourney appearance. But he never got to fulfill his dream of playing for Carolina and representing the state.

Last February, Devon Ramsay had his eligibility restored by the NCAA after it initially declared him permanently ineligible amid the 2010-11 investigation of UNC Football. His mother, insistent that her son's transgression was minor and did not warrant being banned, hired a lawyer and the NCAA eventually acquiesced.

Michael McAdoo's case is similar to that of Ramsay's. McAdoo was found to have received about $100 in benefits to attend a party with a few teammates, and an hour (valued at $11) of improper help in reformatting a term paper by a graduate-student tutor.

That is why alum lawyers have come to his aid. What he did was so innocuous, and does not warrant a ban.

Overall, UNC's case is unprecedented in the annals of NCAA investigations. It is a case of improprieities literally being nipped in the bud before any benefit could be derived. Immediately upon disclosures (the Tweet and visit by NCAA investigators), players were interrogated and suspended; with those who initially were untruthful (including assistant coach John Blake) being dismissed.

It could be argued that Carolina's is a case in which penalties already have been meted out, and the case is or should be virutally a closed one. However, it should not be closed without redressing the unwarranted ban imposed on McAdoo by the NCAA.

Of course headlines state that the former football player is suing UNC as well as the NCAA. However, anyone should be able to see this is a case similar to a child suing a parent in order to get an insurance company to provide compensation that should be forthcoming. There are a lot of university officials and sports enthusiasts around the country watching this case, in the hope it will bring reform at the NCAA.

James Thomas Shell said...

Thank You for your comments. You are entitled to be a Big Carolina fan and love the Carolina Way. I beg to differ about my knowledge of UNC-CH. I know more about the institution than many of its current attendees. Both of my Grandparents were graduates of UNC-CH in the 1940s. My Uncle has a BS in Political Science and a Law Degree from that school. My Cousin earned a BS in Business Administration from there. My Aunt earned a teaching degree from there. I have many relatives with associations such as these with relation to that school.

This goes a lot deeper than sports. This involves academic and legal improprieties. This goes a lot deeper than what has been reported in much of the local media. I am sure that you know at least some of that. I understand your spin. If my school (I graduated from UNCW and am a fan of both UNCW and NC State) were involved in such indiscretions, then I might be trying to lighten the load of the infractions; but I know that with what I have seen out of people, such as Erskine Bowles and Holden Thorpe, I would be ashamed that they are downplaying what most everyone sees as arbitrary enforcement in the name of protecting non-deserving athletes at the peril of an institutions academic integrity.

The NCAA doesn't need reform. They need to mete out justice in a non-arbitrary manner.

The McAdoo case shows that he not only received improper benefits, both academically and monetarily. His paper that has been brought into question has been found to be rife with plagiarism and brings into question the entire course that is being taught (Swahili) and exclusively attended by football and basketball players. It is time to dig in and find out if this sort of Educational Course is the norm at UNC-CH. Where games are being played witb academic achievement in the process of keeping athletes eligible to participate in sports.

I feel that the gig is up and it is time to bring some accountability to the circus and charade that is Student-Athletics at UNC-Chapel Hill.

And yes that is my personal opinion.

Anonymous said...

@goheelsnyc there is no "unc". you must be referring to unc-ch.