UNC NCAA Scandal: We’re not here to play school

The NCAA handed UNC the harshest penalty of all today by leaving the banners in the rafters of the Dean Dome, forcing Tar Heel fans to look up and see them every day while living with the eternal guilt of what it took to win them.

Wait, that actually sounds kind of awesome to have a bunch of national championships. That doesn’t sound like a bad punishment at all. And now at the end of this 7-year story, that’s all anyone should care about. The University of North Carolina made the NCAA look foolish by steering this scandal away from agents, Fats Thomas and Matt Kupec and into the classroom where the Committee of Infractions doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have any jurisdiction. The most humorous aspect of post-announcement social media is the pearl-clutching over academic reputation, like that’s going to move the needle with a program and its fans who just avoided the sting of major sanctions.

Come on, bruh. Nobody cares about academics here. And that’s not sarcasm or satire or any kind of joke of any kind. Education is critically important, but that’s not why any of us care about sports. College athletic programs have three jobs … win games, don’t break rules, and don’t be awful human beings. That’s it. Outside of the last two, it’s not only okay to “stick to sports”, it’s the right thing to do.

There are going to be hundreds of columns and think-pieces on the education that athletes are owed, but honestly, college is the same experience for everyone, in that sense. You want to be challenged? Take hard classes. You want to skate by and earn a degree? Take easy classes. Now there’s a very real debate about the subset of athletes who aren’t able to take difficult classes because of restrictions put on them by athletic departments, but that’s not this story. You’re not mad about school. You’re mad about sports. And UNC sports did nothing wrong (academically), and the NCAA based their ruling on it. End of story.

Sure, use this story to pile on the NCAA and talk about the broken system, but you’d be doing so using faulty logic. UNC has every right to set academic standards, and if those standards are lowered to assist athletes in meeting their NCAA eligibility requirements, so be it. Who cares? Schools don’t have the right to lower their ethical standards, like Louisville and Syracuse have done. They’ve broken very real NCAA rules, and were dealt with accordingly.

No, if Rick Pitino set up strippers for all pre-frosh visits and not just basketball players, that’s not like UNC offering fake/easy classes, or changing grades, for athletes and non-athletes. Paying players is an impermissible benefit. The crux of the NCAA’s case against UNC was proving that academic fraud, er … academic irregularity, was ONLY available to athletes. For it to have been an impermissible benefit, they would have had to prove that. They couldn’t, so it wasn’t. Being an easy school isn’t a crime.

So go crazy, UNC fans. Enjoy Late Night with Roy tonight. Brush off the haters. No one honestly cares about academic reputation when it comes to sports, no matter how much rival fans and sports media tries to convince you otherwise in the coming days. The only true academic fraud here is how much people are pretending to care about academics in sports.