UNC is justly reveling in a tremendous win over rival N.C. State and a star turn by Marcus Paige who represents the best of UNC in many ways.
Yet despite the happy times, the unresolved scandal looms always just overhead, like the black cloud which eternally haunted Li'l Abner's Joe Btfsplk.
The university has proposed several times to deal with the mess comprehensively, but somehow never quite manages to do it.
Latest example: after Mary Willingham made her claims and was attacked by Provost Jim Dean, the N&O asked to see the data with any identifying information redacted.
The university, once again, balked. Attorney Regina Stabile told the N&O that “[t]here are no public records responsive to your request. The records you seek are protected under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.”
We're not particularly well versed here, so perhaps one of our attorney readers might like to jump in. From what we can gather from a cursory reading though, the crux of the law is to protect personally identifiable information. Since the N&O proposed that any PII be redacted, it's hard to see why the university can't comply with the request.
What it appears to most people, including, we suspect, a number of UNC fans, is that the university has some damning information and it is doing everything possible to keep it hidden from the press and therefore from the public.
As best we understand it, the Buckley Amendment was designed to protect students, not raw data.
Again, Chapel Hill seems to be trying to have it both ways. It promises - again - to be open and to follow the evidence wherever it leads. But when the press wants to look at that evidence, even with no names whatsoever attached, privacy is invoked. Why should anyone expect anything different from the latest investigator to look into this?
It's an Alice In Wonderland approach, which makes sense, because UNC increasingly appears to live in a world which is deconstructed and reassembled to suit daily whims.
It's a real tragedy on many levels. A number of lives have been knocked sideways, careers ruined, a great university's reputation is in tatters and worst of all, young men and women were promised an education and were instead mercilessly exploited for the cash their physical talents could help acquire.
This needs to be addressed branch and root. Enough with the trimming around the edges. It's high time the governor and the legislature stepped in, issued subpoenas and demanded answers.