Assigned Reading: Bloomberg’s Businessweek on North Carolina’s academic scandal


By now, we’ve all heard plenty about the academic scandal currently haunting the North Carolina athletic department.

Long story short, for the last couple of years, news has slowly been trickling out about how Tar Heel football and basketball players have been enrolling in fraudulent classes in the African American studies department under a professor named Julius Nyang’oro.

No-show classes, changed grades, plagiarized papers.

It hasn’t been flattering.

The latest step came when one of the sources for all the reporting on the topic made herself public. Her name is Mary Willingham and she was a tutor for the UNC athletic department that was fed up with the alleged lies and cheating. She discussed publicly how some of the student-athletes that she worked with were illiterate but still somehow capable of remaining eligible to play.

On Wednesday, it got uglier as Business Week published a lengthy cover story on the scandal. Based on the artwork on the cover, I’m guessing it will sell pretty well in Raliegh and Durham. You can go ahead and read it all here.

The one passage that stands out to me the most is the following:

“We pretend,” he says, “that it’s feasible to recruit high school graduates with minimal academic qualifications, give them a full-time job as a football or basketball player at a Division I NCAA school, and somehow have them get up to college-level reading and writing skills at the same time that they’re enrolled in college-level classes.” Willingham’s experience, Southall adds, shows how “we’re all kidding ourselves.” What’s more, in response to escalating demands that undergraduate athletes deserve pay for their services, the NCAA argues that a scholarship and degree are sufficient compensation. The NCAA position crumbles, however, if the parchment represents little or no real education.

To me, that right there is the strongest argument for paying college athletes.

The sad truth is that far too of the athletes that matriculate through the revenue sports at power conference programs are simply unprepared to be able to capitalize on the education they receive. When they leave, if they graduate, all they have is a piece of paper saying they went to North Carolina. They don’t actually have any of the skills or knowledge that come with truly earning that piece of paper.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.