When the NCAA dropped their Notice of Allegations on North Carolina stemming from the association’s investigation into an academic scandal that spanned two decades, the universal reaction was that the men’s basketball program — and Roy Williams — had dodged a bullet.
Nowhere in the Notice of Allegations was Williams or any of his assistants specifically mentioned outside of a note to say that they had been interviewed. The academic advisor for the women’s basketball team, a former head of the African and Afro-American Studies Department and his former student services manager were specifically targeted in the five Level I violations.
That’s not to say the men’s basketball program is going to get away scot-free. They’re lumped in with the lack of institutional control charge and the NCAA found evidence tying men’s basketball players to the ‘paper classes’, which they determined to be impermissible benefits not provided to regular students.
The men’s basketball program, and the football program, are likely going to face punishment.
But it’s the women’s basketball program that is going to get hit the hardest.
And on Wednesday, a former Tar Heel player took to the papers to fireback at the NCAA.
Meghan Austin, a 2008 graduate and the current head coach at Montreat College, penned an editorial that was published in the Raleigh News & Observer that claimed the women’s program is being scapegoated:
With the NCAA allegations, I am trying to wrap my head around how the women’s basketball team has been made the scapegoat in all of this. Our program was not the only team in the report, yet we are the ones being talked about the most. Roy Williams and his program were in the report, and he got a contract extension. The football program was in the report, and its coaching staff was confident enough to tell recruits that they will not receive any repercussions from the NCAA investigation.
That leaves the female sport as the one program negatively affected by these allegations. It’s really hard to work for a boss who doesn’t support you and have your back, and that is what Hatchell and her staff are forced to do at this point. It is hard to believe that in the year 2015, we still have people of power who do not support female teams as well as they do their male counterparts.
I am proud to be a member of the UNC women’s basketball program, but I cannot say I am proud to represented by an administration that will throw a legendary coach to the wolves to protect men’s athletic teams.
Austin may be correct in that the school’s strategy is to throw the women’s team under the bus. The men’s basketball program is one of college basketball’s flagship program’s, and football is a cashcow at just about every power conference school.
But don’t put this all on the university.
As the great Jerry Tarkanian probably would have said, “The NCAA is so mad at Roy Williams and North Carolina, they’ll probably slap two more years of probation on the UNC women’s team.”