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UNC's Latest Argument Against Suit Is Pretty Lame

The university would like to have the case dismissed, but the argument isn't helping the overall pushback against the academic/athletic scandal.

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Several years ago, before David Cutcliffe revived Duke football and before Louisville joined the ACC, Duke tried to get out of a football contract with the Cardinals.

Louisville sued, but Duke had a startling and clever, if damning argument: it wasn't really a loss for Louisville (the Cards argued that finding a suitable D-1 replacement was impossible) since Duke really couldn't be taken seriously as a D-1 football program anyway.

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It just goes to show that while lawyers can be shameless, they can still have a sense of humor.

Can't really say that about UNC's latest motions.

As the university is being sued by athletes who claim they were essentially ripped off when it came to an education, UNC is arguing this: "The University acknowledges that certain irregular classes were offered by the Department of African and Afro-American Studies ("AFAM") for a period of years prior to 2011. But it cannot accept Plaintiffs' attempt to characterize their isolated experiences of enrolling in and receiving credit for one or two of these alleged ‘paper classes,' among an entire course of study that they admit was otherwise academically sound, as a recompensable claim. Not all regrettable events are actionable in a court of law, and that is the case here."

One supposes first of all that it depends on the particular athletes. Even UNC admits there was a pattern of fraudulent classes and the evidence shows that athletes were steered to those classes.

However, this pretty thoroughly minimizes the "regrettable actions" that led to an 18-year scheme.

It's somewhat like the classic definition of chutzpah, where the defendant has killed his mother and father and then asks the court for mercy because said defendant is an orphan.

UNC is on firmer footing when it argues that the athletes should have known the classes were fraudulent when they took them.

There are a lot of legal issues here we're not at all sure about and the courts will sort them out soon enough, but the gist of it is this: UNC still refuses to accept responsibility for what happened. Whether it's the courts, the NCAA or the accreditation agency, reality is going to be forced on them soon enough.

Speaking of the NCAA, their argument here is probably correct: it is a product of the member schools, not the other way round, and the schools opted to limit the power of the NCAA pretty sharply. It has never been in a position to enforce academic standards. That's a job for the individual members. We would expect the NCAA to be dismissed from this suit.