Friday, the NCAA announced that they would not be enforcing any sanctions against the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill or the North Carolina Tar Heels in the academic fraud investigation. Where it gets interesting is in the statement released by the panel doing the investigation. “While student-athletes likely benefited from the so-called ‘paper courses’ offered by North Carolina, the information available in the record did not establish that the courses were solely created, offered and maintained as an orchestrated effort to benefit student-athletes.”
In a separate article I previously wrote, I pointed out my opinion of the hypocrisy of the NCAA, why players should be paid, and the devaluation of a college education. This came out about two or three weeks before the FBI arrests were made regarding Louisville, among other schools, who are being charged with bribery and corruption. It came out during the investigation of UNC, when the popular belief was that there would be severe penalties for the school’s athletic programs. The NCAA is currently facing nightmare PR situations, as the FBI is involved and rumors are flying around that more schools could go down. Yet, for me personally, there is very little sympathy for the NCAA.
We learned, based on the statement released about UNC, that the education students receive does not matter to some schools. This might seem like a bold claim, but think about it for a second. In the aforementioned quote, the investigation found that these “paper classes” were not created solely for athletes. In theory, if I was a UNC student, I could sign up for the same class. I would never have to show up, only write a paper and receive an easy A. There is a picture of one of the essays turned in for one of these “paper classes” going around internet, and it certainly was lackluster.
So why is this a big deal? First and foremost, it is showing that UNC, as well as presumably other schools, only care about the areas that they can make money from. That means keeping the best athletes eligible so they are on the floor or field. The student who wrote this loses too. They may get that A-minus they need to keep playing, but they lose out on the education and growth that goes with being a college student. While this paper is nameless, under the assumption that this student falls in the 97% of college athletes who don’t go pro, are they ready for the “real world?” Even if they do go pro, what about after their sports career, the other 40-50 years of their life?
Finally, this also hurts the average college student who goes to a prestigious school, such as UNC, and something like this comes out. After the news broke regarding the lack of sanctions against the school, even when there was very blatant evidence that academic fraud was occurring, one unnamed accreditation board had members that want to strip the school of accreditation, which basically renders any degree from the institute worthless.
Ultimately, I’m not surprised by the move to protect one of the blue blood programs of college athletics from a scandal. I’m not surprised that the NCAA doesn’t seem to care about education of students and student-athletes alike. Will it stop me from watching games? No, Mark Emmert still wins, which sickens me. However, in the game of FBI vs. NCAA, you will definitely see me rooting for the FBI. Be honest about the system. If you don’t care about their education, be honest about it. Stop telling us that the education of the athletes is the most important thing, because it’s clearly not.
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