While the academic scandal involving the University of North Carolina athletic department has drifted into the background in recent months, there has yet to be any action taken by the NCAA (and who knows if the governing body will deem it necessary to take action). Thursday afternoon it was reported by Steve Berkowitz of USA Today that two former UNC student-athletes, football player Devon Ramsay and women’s basketball player Rashonda McCants have filed a lawsuit against the university and the NCAA.
The lawyers in the case, who are also representing the plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, would like to see the case given class action status. Among the allegations made in the lawsuit are that North Carolina failed to provide “academically sound classes with legitimate educational instruction,” and that the NCAA was negligent in its work to prohibit academic fraud from occurring.
The suit seeks unspecified damages and asks for “the formation of an independent commission to review, audit, assess, and report on academic integrity in NCAA-member athletic programs and certify member-school curricula as providing comparable educations and educational opportunities to athletes and non-athletes alike.”
The UConn men’s basketball team won its second national championship on Apr. 7, an improbable run culminating in a wire-to-wire win over Kentucky. The following night, the women’s basketball team capped an undefeated season, repeating as national champion. Since 1999, the two programs have combined for 12 titles. UConn is the only school to have dual champions in the same season, first doing so in 2004.
Kentucky entered the 2014 NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed, a disappointing seed given the preseason hype around the team. The Wildcats went through growing pains all season long, and hit their stride in March, reaching the national title game with dramatic wins over Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin. In the latter two, Aaron Harrison cemented himself as one of the clutchest players in the tournament’s history with identical shots against Michigan and Wisconsin.
By now you know the story of Lauren Hill, the freshman at Mount St. Joseph in Ohio. She was diagnosed last season with terminal brain cancer. She has inspired others by continuing to pursue her dream of playing college basketball while also raising awareness for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. The NCAA approved moving her team’s season debut up to Nov. 2, in which she scored the season’s first basket. Hill has appeared in several more games before being named honorary coach. So far, she has helped raise over $1 million.
Months after NFL Draft hopeful Michael Sam announced he was gay, UMass junior guard Derrick Gordon did the same, becoming the first active player in men’s Division I basketball to do so. Gordon, in his second season with the Minutemen, is averaging 11.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
There has been controversy around the North Carolina athletic department for quite some time. In June, Rashad McCants, a member of the 2005 national championship team, accused Roy Williams of steering him into no-show, paper classes in order to remain eligible. This sparked the reopening of an NCAA investigation, in whichKenneth Wainstein, a former member of the U.S. Justice Department, found 18 years of academic fraud. McCants, who spent four years in the NBA, has been relatively quiet since claiming UNC and the NCAA were set to pay him $310 million.
With nine McDonald’s All-Americas on the roster, and several holdover John Calipari was not expecting on having, how was Kentucky going to divide the play time so everyone would be satisfied? Easy, Coach Cal implemented a platoon system. It’s not always going to be the game plan, but it’ll certainly continue to be a talking point into 2015.
Gregg Marshall followed a Final Four run in 2013 with 35 consecutive wins. The Shockers capped off a perfect 31-0 regular season with a 68-45 win over Missouri State. Wichita State would win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and advance to the Round of 32 where the Shockers met Kentucky in arguably the best game of the year. It took a Kentucky team, playing its best basketball of the season, to narrowly hand Wichita State a loss.
In February, Jason King of Bleacher Reporttold the heartwarming story of Michigan State big man Adreian Payne befriending 8-year-old cancer patient, Lacey Holsworth. The nation really got to know Princess Lacey when she became part of Payne’s Senior Night. Lacey died in April. Payne and Michigan State gave her a brought her so much joy in her final months — inviting her to the East Regionals in New York and to Dallas to watch Payne in the college basketball dunk contest — and in return she touched countless lives, stretching far beyond the East Lansing campus.
The NCAA has consistently been under fire for its lack of compensation for student-athletes. In March, UConn senior Shabazz Napier went on record stating, “I don’t feel student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars, but like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving.” That quote were originally from late March, but didn’t gain traction until CNN posted it right before the national title. Without UConn’s championship run, those comments likely don’t get the attention it did. The NCAA approved unlimited snacks a week later.
On Senior Night, Creighton forward Doug McDermott became only the eighth player in NCAA history to score 3,000 points. Naturally he surpassed the milestone with a 3-pointer en route to 45 points in a win over Providence. McDermott, now a rookie with the Chicago Bulls, ended with 3,150 career points.
The first matchup between Syracuse and Duke as ACC rivals was an instant classic with the Orange prevailing in overtime. The second meeting looked to become another thriller until Jim Boeheim had a Hall of Fame worthy tantrum. C.J. Fair was called for a controversial charge with 10.4 seconds left and the Blue Devils leading 60-58. Boeheim, quite simply, lost it. Racing down the sideline, saying words I can’t write on this website and getting ejected from the came. Duke was able to secure the win from the line thanks to the meltdown. This also sparked some of the greatest memes.
The Michigan freshman has endured more than you can imagine over the years. He’s been involved in two plane crashes, resulting in the death of five family members. Michigan promised to honor his scholarship, and earlier this month he scored his first career points.
The Flyers started Atlantic 10 Conference play 1-5 after cracking the top 25 rankings in November. Dayton recovered to win 23 games and become one of six bids from the A10, as a No. 11 seed. In the Round of 64, the Flyers were slotted against in-state rival Ohio State, upsetting the Buckeyes before taking down No. 3 Syracuse and then topping No. 10 Stanford in the Sweet 16. The run came to an end against top-seeded Florida. The run turned Dayton head coach Archie Miller into a prime candidate for several coaching vacancies, but he signed an extension in March.
This may not be as well known as other moments in 2014, but this is truly an incredible speech. Wofford forward Aerris Smith had his senior season dominated by injuries. After the Terriers won the Southern Conference Tournament championship, Smith announced that he had played in his final game.
The biggest question surrounding the so-called “paper class” scandal in the North Carolina athletic department is whether or not it will have an effect on the 2005 or 2009 national titles that the Tar Heels won.
Final Four appearance and trips to the national title game have been erased from the record books before, but to date, the NCAA has not had to vacate a national title in college basketball.
There’s already been speculation that the NCAA is going to have to bring the hammer down on UNC as a result of the findings released in the Wainstein Report. The defense that the NCAA is using in all the lawsuits that they are currently dealing with regarding amateurism and compensation for student-athletes is that these players are receiving an education in exchange for their athletic exploits, and that should be enough. UNC turned those classes and that education into a farce. The NCAA has to make an example out of them.
According to the Wainstein Report, at least five players took as many as three bogus classes that spring. Rashad McCants has already admitted to taking a full course-load of fake classes, getting straights As and keeping himself eligible to play after a poor fall semester. And in 2010, Sean May said the following to the Indy Star:
That includes Sean May of the Sacramento Kings, the Bloomington prep star and son of former IU star Scott May. Sean May entered the NBA after three years in college, capped by an NCAA title in 2005. He graduated last summer.
May said he started as a double major with communications, but dropped it so he could graduate faster after leaving for the NBA.
Afro-American and African studies, May said, offered “more independent electives, independent study. I could take a lot of classes during the season. Communications, I had to be there in the actual classroom. We just made sure all the classes I had to take, I could take during the summer.”
On average, during the 18 years that the paper classes were being offered at UNC, the basketball team averaged 20 enrollments per year.
Rashad McCants’s picture removed from North Carolina’s media room
This six-second clip, courtesy of Stephen Schramm of the Fayetteville Observer, shows pictures of some of North Carolina’s memorable players from the Tar Heels’ 2005 and 2009 national championship teams such as Marvin Williams, Jackie Manuel, Danny Green and Bobby Frasor. The one picture that no longer hangs on the wall: Rashad McCants.
And yeah, the missing photo in media room was of McCants. Apparently there will be a new one up very soon….
McCants was the team’s second leading scorer during the 2004-2005 title-winning season. He declared for the NBA Draft following the season, playing four seasons. In June, he claimed he was steered into bogus, “paper classes” in order to remain eligible during that season.
Earlier this week, a 136-page report from Kenneth Wainstein, a former member of the U.S. Justice Department, revealed academic fraud within the university spanning from 1993-2011. Roughly 3,100 students, 47 percent of whom were student-athletes, took part in those “paper classes”.
McCants appeared on Outside the Lines several times during the summer, as well as several appearances on SiriusXM Radio. However, the former Tar Heel turned whistleblower has gone from outspoken to completely silent for close to four months after he claimed he was going to receive a combined $310 million from the University of North Carolina and the NCAA.
“It’s a very sad time for me,” Williams said. “A guy that works at the University of North Carolina, who went to school here, and was an assistant coach here. And if you cut me open, it’s the color I bleed. We made some mistakes for a long time.
“And it’s a very, very sad time for us, that we’re going through this.”
The investigation into academic fraud at Chapel Hill was reopened in June, shortly after Rashad McCants, a member of North Carolina’s 2005 national championship team appeared on Outside the Lines, detailing the “paper class” system. The former Tar Heel student-athlete claimed he was steered into bogus classes to remain eligible. While McCants recalls a meeting he had with Williams, stating that Williams advised McCants to “swap out” one class for another, the report shows no evidence Williams knew about the scheme.
In June, former North Carolina guard Rashad McCants, a member of the team that won the 2005 national championship, went public with allegations that he took “paper classes” in order to remain eligible.
In the fall semester of 2004, McCants had failed two classes. The next semester he took four African and Afro-American Studies classes. Those classes required no attendance, only a paper at the end of the term. That spring, McCants made the Dean’s list.
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams denied the accusations. Many former Tar Heels have criticized the validity of McCants’ claims.
A month after ESPN’s Outside the Lines aired the interview, McCants said he had yet to hear from the university or the NCAA. A few days later, in a separate radio interview, he claimed he was going to receive $310 million from UNC and the NCAA.
Those comments didn’t help McCants’ credibility, and he’s remained quiet since that radio interview. However, North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham had an interview with Andrew Carter of the News & Observer to discuss a variety of topics, including this ordeal with the former Tar Heel guard.
It was published on Friday. Here’s a portion:
AC: Rashad McCants over the summer was critical of his experience at UNC. The athletic department has tried to contact him. Have you been successful yet in reaching him?
AC: What’s your confidence level in the other side of McCants’ story?
BC: Well, I think we’ve provided a great experience to many, many students. And I’ve talked to a lot of the other players – I’ve talked to student-athletes in every sport that we have about their experience while they’re here – and I haven’t heard any give me the same story that I watched on television and read in the paper. They’re all very proud of their experience.
On June 30, the NCAA informed Cunningham that it would reopen the academic fraud investigation from 2012, in light of new allegations. Cunningham says investigators have been on campus conducting interviews since making the announcement.
This was part of a two part Q-&-A with the third-year athletic director: Part 1 | Part 2