North Carolina has faced scrutiny over its academic practices for football and basketball players since 2011, when the Raleigh News & Observer first reported about academic fraud at the university. Now, former Tar Heels basketball player Rashad McCants has gone public with his experience, telling ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that many of the things reported about North Carolina are true, in his experience.
Rashad McCants, the second-leading scorer on the North Carolina basketball team that won the 2004-05 national title, told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that tutors wrote his term papers, he rarely went to class for about half his time at UNC, and he remained able to play largely because he took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible.
McCants told “Outside the Lines” that he could have been academically ineligible to play during the championship season had he not been provided the assistance. Further, he said head basketball coach Roy Williams knew about the “paper-class” system at UNC. The so-called paper classes didn’t require students to go to class; rather, students were required to submit only one term paper to receive a grade.
McCants also told “Outside the Lines” that he even made the Dean’s List in Spring 2005 despite not attending any of his four classes for which he received straight-A grades. He said advisers and tutors who worked with the basketball program steered him to take the paper classes within the African-American Studies program.
The African-American Studies program has been at the center of the school’s investigation, which has focused on the years 2007 to 2011. North Carolina found that “54 classes in the department of African and Afro-American Studies were either “aberrant” or “irregularly” taught,” ESPN writes. Only the football team has been sanctioned by the NCAA, which in 2012 forced the Tar Heels to vacate all their wins from the 2008 and 2009 seasons, cut their team’s scholarships by 15, placed the program on three years of probation and banned the team from the postseason for one year.
ESPN obtained two copies of McCants’s academic transcript.
A copy of McCants’ university transcript, labeled “unofficial” and obtained by “Outside the Lines,” shows that in his non-African-American Studies classes, McCants received six C’s, one D and three F’s. In his African-American Studies classes, 10 of his grades were A’s, six B’s, one a C, and one a D. The UNC registrar’s office declined to send McCants an official, signed transcript because of a May 2005 hold on its release. According to the UNC Athletic Department, McCants had university property that had never been returned.
A second copy of his transcript obtained from a different source by “Outside the Lines” is identical to the first and is also not signed by the registrar but does not contain the label “unofficial.”
McCants, who played three years at North Carolina before turning pro, told ESPN that Williams and the athletic department knew “100 percent” about what was going on.
“I mean, you have to know about the education of your players and … who’s eligible, who’s not and … who goes to this class and missing that class. We had to run sprints for missing classes if we got caught, so you know, they were very aware of what was going on.”
McCants also said Williams arranged to have his failing grades from the fall 2004 semester replaced with passing grades from the summer semester that proceeded it. McCants took four African-American Studies classes in the spring 2005 semester, earning straight A’s, ESPN reported.