Here are two more links about the UNC scandal, the first a Dan Kane article about Bradley Bethel's experience working with athletes, and the second a response by Bethel to Kane's article.
It should be noted that Bethel arrived at UNC in 2011, so his comments, and this passage in particular, should be placed in that context:
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"My past and present colleagues in the academic support program are some of the most dedicated educators I've ever met. Although the current academic staff for the football team is almost enirely [sic] different from the staff who worked when the no-show classes took place, I had the opportunity to work with each of the most recent staff before they took new positions. I stand by their integrity as educators.
"Few, if any, in the media have acknowledged the fact that the no-show classes accounted for only a minor percentage of the classes any given football player took throughout his college career. The majority of classes football players took were legitimate classes in which the students had to work hard to earn the grades they received. Furthermore, in any given semester, I believe there were more football players not taking no-show classes than there were football players taking no-show classes. From what I can discern, when the academic counselors at times recommended the easy [less rigorous probably would have been a more accurate descriptor], no-show classes to underprepared students, the counselors did so because they were already working long hours to help those students develop the skills they needed to succeed in their other classes."
Just a couple of quick points here. What he's minimizing is not just academic fraud but indictable behavior. And no matter how you slice it, when academic fraud happens, the NCAA is supposed to declare the students retroactively ineligible and the school is supposed to forfeit the games played with ineligible players. None of this has happened.
And secondly, what the hell is this? "The counselors did so because they were already working long hours to help those students develop the skills they needed to succeed in their other classes."
So it's okay because the counselors (PC term: Learning Specialist. UnPC term: academic babysitters) were overworked? What sort of logic is that?
But let's leave that alone and ask this question, since he raises it: are we supposed to believe that no one in the department was aware that the classes weren't doing anything? That's B.S., we know it's B.S., and here's why.
I, Julio, spent a few semesters doing the same job at a school in Virginia (not UVa).
I will concur with him that many of the people doing that work were sincere and tried very hard, and the non-revenue sports were held to a reasonably high standard.
But when it came to the money sport, basketball, all bets were off.
There were three people over me in the department. One woman ran it and two reported directly to her.
The man who oversaw the basketball program was an African-American, which gave him the ability to take players into his office and yell at them.
Some players, anyway.
When I was working with one of the team's stars, let's call him Kendall, he made it clear that he wasn't going to put any effort in. He sat through the sessions but never did any work.
When I reported this, the gentleman who worked with the basketball program called me into his office and gave me a dose of D-1 basketball RealPolitik.
What are you doing? He asked. I said I was trying to hold him accountable.
Because he's a student here.
Man, c'mon. He's a basketball player. He reads on a fifth-grade level. And you expect him to do this work? C'mon.
This was the charm offensive, by the way.
Well yeah, he's supposed to, right? Aren't they all?
Man, c'mon. Get real. He's here to play basketball. He's not here for an education. Just let him get by, play ball, and he'll make his money in the game. It ain't nothing to you. Just get him by.
I protested for a while and he got angry and started threatening to have me fired, so I quit arguing. Didn't work there much longer, though.
That school is not UNC, and I have no personal knowledge of how UNC does things. But I do have a general understanding of how the eligibility game is played.
When you get assigned the student, you see his teachers, his grades and comments and everything that goes on. If you get to the end of the semester and you've seen nothing, how can you say you don't know what's going on? Of course you know.
There are people who work with the basketball program, who follow the players very closely. They know when they skip class. They know the academic skills of everyone, and when a paper goes in that's far beyond the level of a particular player, they have to decide whether or not to let it go forward.
Generally speaking, those people don't wish to be fired, so they say nothing.
The advisers who worked at UNC, whoever they are, had to know that no work was turned in. Why? Because when they take their little books out and see that a term paper is due at the end of the semester, they have to ask about it. They want to see it, to see progress.
Pretty clearly, in a number of cases, there was either no work done or in the case of Michael McAdoo, there was apparently wholesale fabrication.
If you think that people in the academic support program didn't know exactly where the easy grades were, you're very naive. It's their jobs to know stuff exactly like that.
Many football and basketball players took those classes, willingly committed academic fraud, and we are convinced that the "Learning Specialists" knew exactly what was happening. How could they not? If they're called in, they need to have records and to be able to document stuff, at the risk of their own livelihoods.
This goes on at almost every school and we don't even want to imagine the SEC's version. It puts schools like Duke, Notre Dame, Virginia, Stanford and Harvard into a very favorable contrast.
It also illustrates how rare that level of fairness to the athletes is.