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More Trouble In Blue Heaven

In the annals of college pranks and payback, there are some legendary classics.

Auburn used to grease the railroad tracks when Georgia Tech came to town, forcing the team to walk back to the station when the train finally did stop.

Cal Tech and Yale both pulled off great stunts with flip cards against Washington and Harvard respectively.

MIT also got Harvard by hiding a balloon under the 40 yard line and inflating it during the Yale-Harvard game and exploding talcum powder all over the place.

Around here, pranks mostly involve stealing mascots or memorabilia. You have to give Duke kids a certain amount of credit for stealing Michael Jordan's banner from the Dean Dome, but really there's not much.

Which makes State's accomplishment all the more impressive.

What State fans did wasn't really a prank, because what they did was to document that UNC had ignored a good bit of plagiarism by their football players.

There were serious consequences, including UNC's second-worst athletic scandal ever, the resignation of the head of  Afro-American Studies, the fall of Butch Davis, and serious NCAA consequences.

And it continues: on Friday, UNC announced that there had been more serious problems, including unauthorized grades, forged signatures and other irregularities, according to WRAL's Web site. The University actually consulted with the SBI about the forged signatures but the SBI decided it wasn't serious enough to pursue charges.

Here's the key passage from the report:

"According to the report, which covered courses from the start of the summer session in 2007 to the end of the summer session in 2011, at least 45 courses taught by Nyang’oro were 'found to be aberrant' – or atypical. The courses have evidence of work and grades, but no indication that a professor taught or communicated with the students or even reviewed the completed work.

"Between 2007 and 2009, grades for 59 students in nine courses were submitted to the registrar with forged signatures of professors who said they never taught the course. During that same span, 'several faculty members' stated that there were unauthorized grade changes and they were not aware of who authorized the adjustments."

Forging signatures and changing grades takes things to a whole new level. If this involves athletes again - which seems a reasonable assumption given what we know so far - there are potentially 59 problems. UNC should be praying that they're all football players.

This has already hammered the football program. Now it's hammering the Afro-American Studies program. It's one step away from really devastating the university.

The unspoken question: could it still affect the crown jewel, basketball? With 59 candidates, most not yet identified, yes, it is possible.

However, we would be stunned if it were done in an organized way.

In other words, Roy Williams is smart enough on the one hand not to get caught in something so stupid. But more importantly, we're fairly certain he would never entertain the idea. We're not saying he's a saint or anything; come on, he's a college basketball coach. But that would be a really stupid thing to do and we don't think he's a stupid man at all.

If a basketball player or players were involved, our guess is that either the player and the guilty instructor conspired, or perhaps a grade was just changed. (The question then, it seems to us, is motive).

It's hard to imagine the basketball program getting their hands dirty in this way.

And of course, this is entirely speculative. There's no indication of that being an issue at all. Most of the people involved have not been identified.

Maybe State fans will consider that for an encore.