On Sunday, the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team qualified for its 20th Final Four in school history, which is an amazing accomplishment. However, when you consider the scandal plaguing the university right now in relation to its sports programs, it sort of begs the question why the basketball team is even allowed to play at all.
The Tar Heels won national championships in basketball in 2005 and 2009 already during “an 18-year period during which UNC offered fake ‘paper classes’ to thousands of students, about half of them athletes trying to maintain their eligibility.”
Since this investigation is now almost five years ongoing, these issues go back 23 years, roughly, to a time when the legendary Dean Smith was still roaming the sidelines for the North Carolina men’s basketball team. Smith is considered a saint in the sport, and the NCAA has been dragging its feet for a long time on this one.
Per the VICE Sports piece, “While UNC has sought to distance its multimillion-dollar athletic department from the scandal by suggesting that academic departments perpetrated the fraud, recently released internal emails show that athletic department employees did, in fact, outline and write papers for athletes.”
Yet the Tar Heels once again will compete for a national championship, when almost any other men’s basketball program with the same level of fraud present in its DNA would have been put on major probation by now—or even given the infamous NCAA death penalty.
Why not UNC?
Again, per VICE Sports, ” … national championships and millions of dollars in television broadcasting rights and athletic donations were at stake.”
They still are. The money has to be made first, and then the NCAA can go back in and hand down some punishments—just like it did with those Ohio State football players a few years back.
The Tar Heels are a great basketball team, but only because the school has let academic fraud run rampant on its campus. UNC has no business whatsoever being in the Final Four this year, because the program should be on probation for a decade.
But this is America, where the almighty dollar rules the day—even in collegiate “amateur” sports.