1. Rashad McCants told ESPN’s Outside the Lines that while he was a student-athlete at the University of North Carolina, he rarely attended class and had tutors write his papers for him.
McCants, the second leading scorer for the 2004–2005 national champion North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team, has dropped a bomb on one of the premiere programs in country — declaring in an interview with ESPN’s Outside the Lines that while he was a student-athlete at the school he rarely went to class and had tutors write his papers for him.
McCants told ESPN that he and other players took so-called “paper classes,” in which students weren’t required to attend class and simply had to turn in a term paper at the end of the semester.
Going into the 2004–2005 season, with his eligibility in jeopardy, McCants said advisers and tutors who worked with the basketball team steered him to take the paper classes within the African-American studies program. During the spring semester and championship run, McCants earned straight A’s and made dean’s list despite not attending any of his classes.
“I didn’t write any papers,” McCants said.
When it was time to turn in his papers, McCants said he and other players would carpool over to the tutor’s house and “basically get our papers and go about our business.”
McCants said that coach Roy Williams “100%” knew about the paper class system. “I remained eligible to finish out and win the championship, [coach William’s] first championship, and everything was peaches and cream.”
Williams denied the accusations that he knew about McCant’s bogus class arrangement in a statement Friday:
Our players have been deeply hurt over the last couple of years, and again today, by the comments and innuendo concerning their academic achievements. The young men who accepted scholarships to play basketball at this university have done so expecting a world-class basketball experience, in addition to a world-class education. Obviously, we pride ourselves on being one of the top basketball programs in the country, but equally important, in helping our players grow academically and socially, as we promised their parents we would. Our student-athletes understand the value of a degree from the University of North Carolina and accept their academic responsibilities in earning that degree.
They take seriously their efforts to, in some cases, become the first member of their families to graduate from college. I love them for all they have meant to UNC and to me, and I will continue to believe in and support them. With respect to the comments made today, I strongly disagree with what Rashad (McCants) has said. In no way did I know about or do anything close to what he says and I think the players whom I have coached over the years will agree with me. I have spent 63 years on this earth trying to do things the right way and the picture he portrays is not fair to the university or me.
UNC’s athletic director, Bubba Cunningham, also refuted McCants’s claims about widespread impropriety in the basketball program in a statement to ESPN:
It is disappointing any time a student is dissatisfied with his or her experience. I welcome the opportunity to speak with Rashad McCants about returning to UNC to continue his academic career — just as we have welcomed many former student-athletes interested in completing their degrees.
The university hired former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein in January to conduct an independent investigation into past academic and athletic irregularities. While these are the first allegations we have heard from Mr. McCants, I encourage him to speak with Mr. Wainstein.
“I have gotten to know some of Mr. McCants’ teammates, and I know that claims about their academic experience have affected them deeply. They are adamant that they had a different experience at UNC-Chapel Hill than has been portrayed by Mr. McCants and others.
According to a recent statement by Peter Hans, the UNC board of governors’ chairman, the independent investigation is looking at “more than 500 questionable grade changes [that] are also under investigation, as are hundreds of accurately-named independent studies within the African studies department that had little or no supervision.”
8. Current and former student-athletes from UNC and other universities are responding to McCants’ interview on Twitter (h/t The Daily Tarheel).
17. Thus far, all of McCants’ UNC teammates from the 2005 national championship team have declined ESPN’s request for comment.
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