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The UNC Way Returns

And again, it’s not pretty

South Carolina v North Carolina
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - AUGUST 31: Head coach Mack Brown of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks 24-20 in the Belk College Kickoff game at Bank of America Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

News broke on Monday that the UNC Board of Trustees had an emergency meeting. Did they have one when Tailei Q allegedly shot and killed professor Zijie Yan in August?

Don’t think so.

Did they have one when UNC nearly lost its accreditation over the academic fraud scandal?

Don’t remember, but don’t think so.

Did they have one when everyone realized that Kenan Stadium was named for a racist mass murderer who machined gun Black people in the streets of Wilmington in 1898?

Don’t think so. They just changed the name from William Kenan Sr. to William Kenan Jr. - problem solved.

So what justifies calling an emergency board of trustees meeting?

The athletic eligibility of Tez Walker.

To be clear, we have empathy for Walker. Other people have transferred multiple times and not been penalized. The NCAA is beyond hapless. It’s hard to argue that this is fair.

But this is what the board of trustees calls an emergency meeting over?

Ask yourself this: would they have gone to war for a third-string receiver? How about a walk-on?

Of course not.

The reason everyone is so concerned about Walker is that he’s a highly promising target for Heisman candidate Drake Maye, and Maye may not be there next year. So coach Mack Brown, AD Bubba Cunningham and the board can bleat all they want about wanting “what’s best for the young man.” They can even be right about how awful the NCAA is. Not many people would disagree with that.

But the pretense that this is only about Walker’s mental health, or fairness, or getting him on the field at Mass Murderer Stadium (Jr.) isn’t about any of that.

It’s about giving Maye a better target, which could give UNC a better chance at a fat postseason payday.

In other words, regardless of what Brown or Cunningham say, it comes down to money: Walker offers UNC a chance to get more of it. If he didn't, everyone would bloviate for a day or two and then accept the idiotic NCAA ruling and just find someone else to catch Maye’s passes.

We appreciate that Walker doesn’t deserve this. We understand that he would like for his grandmother to see him play. We understand that this isn’t fair. And we suspect that the NCAA is taking the chance to stick it to UNC after the university walked away from the worst academic fraud case in NCAA history without paying any penalty at all outside of giving up a once-sterling reputation. And we appreciate Jay Bilas’s continuing crusade against NCAA hypocrisy. He’s an excellent lawyer and we’re the jury he’s been trying to sway.

All good.

However, that’s not the only hypocrisy here and UNC’s is just as bad. None of this is about what a fine young man Walker is. It’s about Walker helping UNC pad the bottom line. They’re making it sound good with all the high-minded talk about mental health and how Walker is suffering, but really, it’s just business. He could make his team better. That’s all this comes down to.

And that being the case, the board of trustees calling an emergency meeting over a football player’s eligibility is just another embarrassment for our flagship state university. There are far, far more important things for them to do.

Of course there is an easy and more admirable solution for UNC. If their concern is for Walker’s well-being and that he play football this season, just go ahead and let him play. You’d have to deal with the NCAA likely wiping out your season, but you’d have the moral satisfaction of having done the right thing by Walker. And that, after all, is what they insist this is all about.

So play him and the hell with it.