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At NYT Joe Nocera tells the story of Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Michael McAdoo who recently sued the University of North Carolina and the NCAA after he was barred from college athletics for academic cheating.
McAdoo’s crime was that his ex tutor wrote citations to a paper he submitted to a “term paper class”. This fact came to light amid a larger cheating scandal involving a dozen players and the school’s African American studies department. UNC’s honor court ruled that McAdoo should be suspended for a semester, but the NCAA banned him for good. Luckily for McAdoo he was able to sign with the Ravens and earn the league minimum $450,000 this season.
Nocera provides the details. Keep in mind that the journalist has lately been focusing on institutional racism within college sports:
He had been an O.K. student in high school, and his mother, a schoolteacher, was adamant that he get a college education. He told his recruiters he wanted to major in criminal justice.
Once he got on campus, however, he was quickly informed by his academic counselors that North Carolina didn’t have a criminal justice major. According to McAdoo, his counselor picked his major, African-American studies, because it wouldn’t interfere with football practice.
I’m just wondering where is the agency here? It is hard to sympathize with a man who says he wants to be X but has done none of the backwork to find out if X is open to him. With the internet and about two minutes, one can find a listing of any college’s menu of academic majors. I realize that the agency argument can be applied to very many college students who find themselves in dire straits and jobless after graduation. But this is a matter of degree. Where would the type of guy who can’t research his own school’s course menu end up if his football dreams didn’t pan out?
Among the first classes he was “assigned” (as he phrases it) was a Swahili course, an “independent studies” class taught by the department chairman, Julius Nyang’oro. “There wasn’t any class,” McAdoo recalled. “You sign up. You write the paper. You get credit. I had never seen anything like it.” He never once met his professor. Despite the strange circumstances, he researched and wrote the paper. It was that paper that got him in the trouble with the N.C.A.A.
“All the academic counselors knew about the paper classes” — as they were called — “ and they all steered athletes to them,” says Mary Willingham, a former academic counselor at the university.
The next question here focuses on the academic rigor of African American studies. Is it just a coincidence that when it comes time to place students in fluff classes that African American studies becomes the prime choice? I doubt it. A watered-down engineering or even economics class wouldn’t pass the sniff test, and there is a natural kinship between the department and the high number of black athletes.
As for Michael McAdoo, the public humiliation still stings. “I had days when I was so depressed, I could barely get out of bed,” he told me. He feels that he put his trust in an institution that ultimately betrayed him.
“I would still like to get a college degree someday,” he said. “But not at the University of North Carolina. They just wasted my time.”
McAdoo is blowing smoke up our asses and Nocera is facilitating it. This man pretends to be serious about earning a college degree yet he was passively “assigned” classes and, as hammered home above, didn’t know what majors were offered at the school. He didn’t care about academics; few UNC football players, or football players from any school, care too much about academics.