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Friday, July 1, 2011

Where are the UNC Board of Governors? - (Part 2) - Everybody knows "The Carolina Way"

This is the third article that I am writing on this subject matter. The story is about a collegiate football program and athletic department that has been allowed to perform in a rogue fashion with no expectations of operating on a level playing field via academics and/or amateurism. This is also a story about lots of money, absolute power, and corruption at the highest levels of our State.

The argument is not about the issue of fairness in relation to athletes not being paid for the economic value that they bring to their university. It is about the fact that every University and athlete is expected to perform under the guidelines set forth by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). With those guidelines, there is an expectation of amateurism and their is certainly an expectation; not only with the NCAA, but also with the University of North Carolina system; that all students meet the system's expectations, by doing their own academic work,  to work towards a degree within the system.

Dr. Bill Friday stated in an Interview with WRAL in Raleigh that, “It’s been a difficult time but like good North Carolinians we’ve admitted we’ve made the mistake. Now let's move on.” said Friday.  Last October, in an interview with the same television station, he even went so far as to state that all of college sports needs reform. He has basically admitted UNC-Chapel Hill's guilt all along, but he seems to want to put the punishment/sanction part to the side. In the article above he stated that, "He believes UNC can recover if it deals with the scandal honestly with a goal toward institutional control."

You see the problem is that this former UNC system President seems to believe that UNC deserves the benefit of the doubt. In his mind, pious ethics and the mythical "Carolina Way" are supposed to lend UNC-CH some sort of "Get out of Jail free" card. Is this the same Bill Friday who wanted to condemn NC State's sports program 20 years ago under a lot less conspicuous circumstances? Or the same Bill Friday who just one year ago tried to stop UNC-Charlotte from starting a football program?

What we have seen over the last year has shown that the "Carolina Way" is a fraud. They operate no better than any other program and their prior attitude of condemnation never reflects back on themselves. Now there is the repeated talking point, "Everybody Does It."

The information gleaned so far from this investigation shows UNC-CH's leadership along with its Board of Trustees and the system's Board of Governors care little about performing above board and operating an open investigation. Instead they have all lawyered up and only released information that the court system has forced them to release to the public. To any person paying attention and not drinking the "Cooperation" Kool-Aid, it is obvious to see that there is a lot to hide in all of these stacks of stuff and sooner or later it is all going to come out.

The question begs to be asked; what else has gone on over the years, because UNC-Chapel Hill surely seems to have been afforded this benefit of the doubt and had "The Powers that Be" tote their water for them and help hide things in the closet?

They have avoided scrutiny over the years by creating this false mystique deemed "The Carolina Way." You have heard sport's journalists and broadcasters such as Mike Patrick and Dick Vitale preach to the proletariat about how Carolina is special and about the "Carolina Way." How much momentum did the University gain from such advertising in which they (and their minion) have arrogantly promoted that they do everything above board and the right way and insinuate that everyone else cheats, while many of us have heard stories about their former "Student"-Athletes.

People like Friday and Erskine Bowles tell us that they are cooperating and that we are supposed to sit back and let the investigation play out. They say that we should trust all of these public officials involved in this situation, then we read about the lack of cooperation. We see shenanigans abound through all of this obfuscation and how the media is having to sue to gather public documents. Then when the documents are released and people start fitting the pieces together it doesn't look good and leads to more questions, which they have to go back through the courts to obtain.

Through it all we see new allegations come out periodically that appear to be credible, if not yet proven factual. We also see UNC-CH trying to lay all of the blame on everyone but the University itself. Agents, players, coaches, tutors... Look at John Blake who left the University with a $75,000 severance check. That just does not add up to those of us who live in the real world. What I am led to believe is that all of those who are fostering a notion of forgive and forget are either naive, in denial, or corrupt and maybe it is all three, which would be the definition of stupidity in my book. How about a straight forward Mea Culpa?

Last week UNC-Chapel Hill received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA. In this 42-page document, they listed nine major infractions that the Football team is accused of. In the Semantic world of NCAA By-Laws, the University was not accused of a Lack of Institutional Control, which to many is the ultimate label of member impropriety, but what we see, and further information that is being discovered shows, is something much worse. What we see is that there has been Controlled Institutional Corruption, which has to be endorsed throughout the University. There is just way too much going on to characterize it all as a coincidence or a misunderstanding.

ESPN released a story under the Associated Press by Heather Dinich entitled UNC receives notice of allegations which details much of the report.
The notice states seven players received more than $27,000 in improper benefits in 2009 and 2010. In addition, the NCAA alleged unethical conduct by former tutor Jennifer Wiley for refusing to cooperate with the investigation and providing about $3,500 worth of extra benefits in travel, parking expenses and free tutoring to players.
The school was also cited for failing to monitor "social media activity" of the team in 2010 as well as the conduct of former player Chris Hawkins. Hawkins was previously connected to trips to Atlanta and Las Vegas made by cornerback Kendric Burney and also paid $1,000 for the jersey of Georgia's A.J. Green -- a transaction that resulted in Green's four-game suspension because the NCAA said Hawkins qualified as an agent. Hawkins had hung around the program and players in recent years but has since been told to stay away.
Here is a good summarization of most of what the University is currently accused of:
  • A tutor paying parking fines
  • A tutor writing papers for players
  • A tutor giving free study sessions
  • A tutor paying for a player's airline ticket
  • An assistant coach funneling players to a specific agent, for money
  • Ignoring information from a student athlete about improper benefits
  • $27,097.38 worth of improper benefits to various players
  • Failure to monitor the activities of Chris Hawkins, an agent/runner and former UNC player currently accused of distributing Cocaine and awaiting trial on this charge
  • Failure to monitor the social networking of players

In that ESPN article, UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorpe admits, "I deeply regret that Carolina is in this position. We made mistakes, and we have to face that. ... We will emerge with a stronger athletics program, and we will restore confidence in Carolina football." Would these "Mistakes" have come to light if Marvin Austin hadn't made those public tweets on Twitter in late Spring of last year and the NCAA hadn't come knocking on the door? The signs that something was awry had been there, but administrators of the University, both inside and outside of the Athletic Department, were obviously neglecting all of those warning signs.

And now we see an article released in Sports Illustrated by Andy Staples dated July 4, 2011 entitled Carolina Blues. Folks, this is the Walter Cronkite on the Vietnam war moment. This is a Tar Heel friendly national publication that is saying that UNC-Chapel Hill should get hammered. The quote from them is one that many of us have understood for more than nine months, but now it has moved past conspiracy theory to generally accepted fact.
Any discussion of the litany of allegations the NCAA hurled at North Carolina last week must begin with these two: The Tar Heels allegedly employed an agent's runner as its associate head coach, and a woman employed by coach Butch Davis to tutor his son provided several players improper assistance. If proven, those violations rank alongside any of the last decade.

(The article ends.) ...Davis and Blake's relationship dates to 1976 when Davis coached Blake at Charles Page High in Sand Springs, Okla. Still, the coach has pleaded ignorance throughout this investigation. Last October, Davis said, "I'm sorry that I trusted John Blake," and the coach maintains that position.

Davis has taken the stance that those who remain ignorant should remain gainfully employed. But even if he somehow keeps his job, he probably won't find it so appealing once the NCAA is finished with the Heels.
The only people who don't seem to understand that the writing is on the wall are the caretakers of our state's University System. I truly believe that the reasoning is related to the fact that the majority of the people on the Board of Governors are Chapel Hill graduates. It is somewhat understandable that the University would try to spin damage control and minimize penalties, but this should be done through real cooperation and they are harming an asset of this state by operating in the manner they have over the last year. It is their fiduciary responsibility to operate in the public's interest and not their own. If they can't separate the two, then they should do the right thing and resign from the board.

None of the findings that have come out have come from the UNC-CH internal investigation. They have come through the NCAA or independent investigations. That should tell you what we are dealing with here. The most egregious, guilty party in this procedural mess is the Board of Governors. It is their responsibility as the overseers of this public asset, that is our University System, that they look out for the integrity of the entire system, not protect their personal interests and/or their cronies in Chapel Hill.

If this were happening in Wilmington (my Alma mater), then I would want all who are involved fired immediately. Instead, we are truly seeing the gang who couldn't shoot straight and as the light is being shed on the scene of the crime, we see all of the damage. I think most of us recognize that it will take years to undo this damage and it is embarrassing and the longer this goes on, the more angry many of us become.

I understand that the Board of Governors slots are politically appointed positions. If they are not willing to clean up the mess in Chapel Hill, sooner rather than later, then can we not get the Governor or the Legislature to do their jobs and make sure that the agencies in our state are operating properly? Over the last decade this State has proven itself to be very corrupt with scandals involving the former Governor, his wife, administrators at NC State University, the DOT, the Department of Agriculture, and we can go on. Isn't it time that we clean the messes up?

There have been a multitude of laws broken here. Many of these improprieties rank as felonies under both State and Federal statutes. I know that this all revolves around a spherical ball, but it also revolves around lots and lots of money and it also revolves around the integrity of a diploma from the oldest institution in our University system and that University system means something to those of us who properly worked towards a degree within that system.

The entire nation can see what has been taking place in Chapel Hill. If Dr. Friday truly wants to put this all behind us, then he should help to route out the corruption at his dear ole Carolina. I have my doubts that anyone will voluntarily do this. So we will continue to drag this out until the very bitter end, because that is where this story is headed and that is how it will end.

Where are the UNC Board of Governors?!?!? - UNC-Chapel Hill athletic scandal - October 1, 2010

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


Anonymous said...

great article

Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone in NC has some integrity. Obviously the UNC adminstration, UNC BOT, UNC BOG, and apparently the entire state government does not.

You are hitting the nail on the head!!!! Great article!!!

Anonymous said...

Preach on - brother, preach on!
You nailed it!

Anonymous said...

The NC gov't is incredibly corrupt.

The BOG is just a part of that machine.

The vast majority of the BOG members are UNC-CH grads.

Look for them to do nothing other than to protect UNC-CH - no matter what comes out.

If you are looking for consistency in behavior, or if you are looking for a concern about the integrity of the UNC system, you are definitely looking in the wrong place.

Anonymous said...

Right on target -- hope that every member of the Board of Governors reads it and takes an action to correct the problems or resigns.

KoolAid Drinker

Anonymous said...

Sir: Great article! This is the consummate op/ed piece that I have seen yet on this sleazy affair. If you're cooking is half as good as your writing, I'll bet your customers leave well fed. This ECU grad. is tired of the corruption and cover-up from the UNC BOT and BOG as well.

Anonymous said...

"The only people who don't seem to understand that the writing is on the wall are the caretakers of our state's University System."

Them, and the NCAA. And if John Blake truly was a runner, he's the worst in history. How many of Blake's players signed with Wichard over the years?

Anonymous said...

Great article!! UNC CHeat needs to be exposed.

Go 49ers.