Ethical failures by NCAA and UNC Chapel Hill. Illustration of the phrase ‘auditing with your eyes closed.’

UNC Chapel Hill – “Midnight Old Well” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As mentioned in previous post, articles keep popping up on the systemic academic fraud at UNC Chapel Hill. Trying to hold my posts to under a thousand words each means there need to be multiple updates.

  • Reporter says the UNC scheme was widely  known
  • UNC grad, class of ’92, explains the reason UNC claimed as legitimate classes they previously confessed were fraudulent. Also says this fiasco shows him the UNC leadership chose money over honor.

10/13/17 – Duke Basketball Report at SB Nation – A Pitiful Victory – Article goes over a long list of warning signs of systemic cheating and fraud at UNC. After most of the points, the writer makes some comment along the lines of they knew, or we knew, meaning there was common knowledge of cheating.

Apparently there was a massive scandal at UNC back in the ‘60s and the school made a strong commitment to play clean. Article shows that commitment to integrity only lasted until somewhere around 1990.

Author says the rest of the ACC, and maybe everyone in college sports, should be upset with the lying and cheating. I agree. The NCAA isn’t able to find anything in the rule book to say academic and athletic fraud is actually punishable. (Next article says they removed from their rulebook the rule that said academic fraud is punishable.)

That the NCAA can’t punish systemic academic fraud makes every college sports team suspect. Makes me wonder what else is going on that the NCAA can’t seen when they choose to keep their eyes are closed.

Author suggests that only Baylor has a lower reputation. Article says that is the school where rape and murder were the new low bar for bad behavior,  (Yeah, I’m glad I haven’t tuned in to Baylor’s efforts to expand the boundaries of badness).

Author raises the possibility that this fiasco may put the final nail into the coffin of the empty shell that is the NCAA. Apparently, in addition to the UNC mess and the Baylor mess, there is some athlete who collected a cool $100,000 and didn’t get punished (I don’t want to know) and another player who got some hookers tossed in with his under the table payments (I really don’t want to know).

From the tone of the paragraph describing those fiascos, I’ll guess the NCAA wasn’t able to find any problems, but I’m not diving further into the garbage dump to find out for sure.

10/26/17 – Op-Ed at The News and Observer – Honor matters – but maybe not at Chapel Hill – A 1992 grad from UNC Chapel Hill who served 22 years on active duty takes the university to task for its systemic lack of integrity. He also takes the NCAA to task for closing their eyes to academic fraud as a policy choice.

He doesn’t understand those who claim the NCAA report as full vindication. He suggests those who choose to actually understand the report should feel shame.

The author’s summary of the UNC position:

“After thousands of students took advantage of an unethical professor and secretary who administered nonexistent paper classes and handed out unearned grades, the NCAA observed that Carolina’s position was to embrace that academic sham as a legitimate class.”

Why would the school admit that classes were in fact frauds, yet then turn around and claim they were legitimate? Seems to me that anyone who ponders this fiasco for more than a moment would realize these classes were intentional, deliberate frauds. A few more minutes of reading would show the frauds were widely-known in the academic departments and the athletics programs. Why say later that they were legitimate and perfectly fine and completely in compliance with all UNC policies?

The key explanation is provided a few paragraphs later.

Since 2014 the NCAA has had a policy that they will rely on schools to determine whether there was an academic fraud. If schools say a class was fraud, then it’s fraud. If schools can put in writing that a class was legitimate, even though everyone who pays attention know it was a complete fraud, then the NCAA will conclude it is legitimate.

In the CPA world, we call this auditing with your eyes closed. The NCAA can look at a complete fraud and conclude under their duly-approved, eyes-closed rules that the class was okey-dokey.

Now I understand why UNC said the classes were okay.

When UNC agreed with their accrediting agency that the classes were fraudulent and then did a complete about-face claiming to the NCAA that the classes complied with every single UNC requirement, the NCAA had no choice but to keep their eyes closed and give UNC a pass on systemic fraud.

Author concludes, correctly I believe, that the UNC leadership choose to keep the money flowing over honesty and integrity. They decided that the astounding piles of cash that flow from the skills of student athletes (read that as underpaid members of the NBA/NFL farm teams) was more important than their own honor. Those piles of cash were more important than the reputation of the entire school.

Author explains that USC and Penn State are just now starting to recover from their sanctions. I don’t know what happened at USC, but for Penn State the sanctions for systemically ignoring molestation were at the level of cost of doing business. A large portion of those sanctions were withdrawn after a short while when attention faded away.

Author hints that the UNC leadership knew the cost involved to be honest. His comment is:

“Ethics and honor can be expensive.”

Yes, they are. Ethics and honor are very expensive. Sometimes in life they are also a choice.

UNC’s choice is on display for all to see.

The blindness by policy choice of the NCAA is also on display.



I suppose it is time to repeat my regular disclosure:

Full disclosure: As I have mentioned before, the rules of writing indicate I need to mention that I graduated from the University of Maryland. If I recall college rivalries correctly, that means I’m supposed to really dislike the tobacco road schools. So you can know how totally irrelevant the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball circuit is in my life, please understand that when I saw a picture here, I didn’t otherwise know that UNC won the 2009, 2005, and 1993 basketball championships. After seeing the picture, it still doesn’t matter to me.

On the other hand massive, intentional, widely known, systemic academic and athletic frauds do catch my eye. But you already figured that out.

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