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Blue Heaven

Midweek Motivator

100_100_timby Tim Moore


Table…chair…Aardvark. The University of North Carolina has been disgraced and it won’t simply end in prolonged embarrassment. No, this isn’t a sport column; just one person’s camera angle on a very bad scene in a most improbable setting.

Last week news crawls exploded on major news and sports networks as a scandal to end all scandals found its way into conversations everywhere… nowhere as intense however as in the backyard of Chapel Hill and Raleigh-Durham where locals refer to this charming Ivy League-like campus of UNC as “Blue Heaven.” Hell showed up uninvited and about 18 years too late when what appears to be by far the biggest and most egregious cheating system in NCAA sports history was unmasked for all to see. Disbelieving alumni, donors, faculty and fans awoke to the bulletins: UNC has for almost twenty years been using a shadow scheme whereby student athletes “enrolled” in classes that existed only on paper, attained above-average grades for work they never did, and were allowed to play sports based on fictional matriculation. The school even boasted of their athletic GPA’s.

Coaches from the legendary Dean Smith to former and present UNC coaches suddenly have a memory problem. They seem not to recall these flagrant infractions, or worse as a current coach replied, “I assigned academic responsibility to my assistant coaches.” Worst of all many academic departments and their faculty will have to fall on the saber for this massive, totally corrupt, invisible-class scam that runs wide and deep making Watergate look like the Insane Clown Posse. What is so improbable about the entire sordid mess is the historic stature of the state of North Carolina’s senior and most acclaimed public institution. While only three public universities exist inside the so-called Top 25 academic institutions (Cal-Berkeley, University of Michigan, and The University of Virginia), UNC would not be all that far behind. Last week’s bombshell will impact the school’s reputation for a very long time.

This in not Northeast Wyoming Technical and Basket-Weaving State College; it’s theeeee University of North Carolina where some athletes and students got not only a free education but free grades. And as often happens when disgrace and untoward events taint an institution (Penn State as a working example) so many dedicated, talented and accomplished people surrounding UNC athletics feel the fall-out. It appears several Basketball and Football coaches have much to answer for though not more than the institution itself which allowed over three thousand students to benefit from this disgraceful scam. “It never should have been allowed to happen,” says UNC chancellor Carol Folt. “Key word, allowed,” writes sports columnist Dennis Dodd. Administrators, faculty, coaches, and academic counselors are among the fallen in Chapel Hill.

Somewhere inside UNC a number people are guilty of ignoring NCAA regulations but worse, essentially spitting in the face of a fundamental principle of playing sports in college: academic integrity. Yet maybe we have this all wrong since the NCAA lacks the guts to mete out the death penalty to UNC; there are just too many implications for TV ratings, ACC brand preservation and sheer cash flow.

Maybe the answer is to stop seeing college athletics as our parents and their parents once saw student athletes wearing their alma mater’s colors in the sun and honey of days past. It’s time to see major college sports as the NFL or NBA’s farm system since that’s what they’ve become. But for now in Chapel Hill, UNC must endure something other than tar on their heels.

Golden lads and girls all must…as chimney sweeps return to dust. (Cymbeline)

Tim Moore


Managing Partner
Audience Development Group