Hogan’s Heroes

“I see nothing.”

By now you surely know the broad outlines of the story. No need to recount all of the sordid details here.

Over a span of eighteen years, stretching from coaching legend Dean Smith to Hall of Famer Roy Williams, 3,100 students – nearly half of them UNC athletes – enrolled in a series of sham Afro-American Studies courses guaranteeing them A’s and B’s without having to show up for class, turn in papers, or take tests. Most of the jocks were football and basketball players, including members of three national championship teams (1993, 2005, 2009).

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 1.00.19 PMAt the center of the “shadow curriculum” was an assortment of “paper classes” or independent study courses coordinated by Deborah Crowder, a secretary in the AFAM program. These courses proceeded without the involvement or supervision of UNC faculty and required only a single research paper graded, of course, by Crowder, resulting nearly always in a high grade or more disturbing, the specific grade required to keep the particular athlete eligible. If the athlete needed a “D-plus” to generate a GPA high enough to guarantee eligibility, then he received a “D-plus.” If he needed “C-minus,” he got a “C-minus.”

According to Kenneth Wainstein, a former US Department of Justice official hired by the University to investigate the scandal, “By the mid-2000s, these classes had become a primary – if not the primary way – that struggling athletes kept themselves from having eligibility problems.” For example, ten of the fifteen players on the 2004-05 North Carolina men’s basketball team majored in AFAM. How many of them would have remained eligible without the sham courses? Wainstein’s probe didn’t pursue the question but the NCAA is now investigating former players’ transcripts to see if the phony classes enhanced their eligibility.

And Roy Williams’ culpability? Continue reading…