“We cheated,” said Mary Willingham, the Center for Student Academic Counseling and Advisor in the Graduation Division at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in an interview with ESPN. “I can still see all the faces of the athletes we cheated out of an education.”
UNC-Chapel Hill is the oldest university in North Carolina and the oldest public university in the nation. The prestigious UNC is famous for high standards of education and learning.
Recently multiple sources, including over 30 retired professors and former student-athletes, have acknowledged an academic scandal. False classes and dishonest grades have been the two main components of a scheme to help athletes remain eligible to participate in sports.
“Do you know how hard I worked in high school to be here?” said UNC sophomore Maura Hartzman in an interview with The Guilfordian. “I am already in student debt to study here to have a career.
“These athletes have a full ride and just go here to play professional sports after college. Their degree isn’t worth a cent.”
According to CNN, many other Division I athletic powerhouses, such as Texas A&M University, Oklahoma State University and many more are known for grade scandals as well.
That does not excuse UNC.
“‘Mary, stop talking,’” said Willingham in an interview with ESPN. “‘Everybody else is doing it, who cares?’ Well, I care.”
UNC’s department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies offered ghost courses. The main types of students enrolled in those courses were football and basketball players.
Former Tar Heel football player Deunta Williams admitted that he and other football players were enrolled in the classes and did not have to show up for them.
“I discovered that athletes were taking these paper classes,” said Willingham in an interview with The Guilfordian. “Which meant no attendance necessary and very little work.”
Another known source of athletes gaining eligibility are the grades they are handed by certain professors.
“Essentially, scandals and academic fraud are not right,” said UNC sophomore Katie Deagan in an interview with The Guilfordian. “Handing out free assignments isn’t okay with me.”
UNC and NCAA officials know the scandal is happening right under their noses and still give out athletic scholarships.
Why do they allow athletes to continue this fraud at such a highly respected university?
“The NCAA college sports model is a farce because their promise of a real education in exchange for talent is simply not possible,” said WIllingham. “The scholarship contract — agreement is false.”
UNC has been exposed for this scandal, yet proper changes have yet to occur. Money may be the issue.
Hartzman said that UNC makes too much money on athletes to make an effort to change.
“Smart kids don’t run into each other with helmets on,” said Hartzman. “UNC sports would not exist if they kept academic integrity.
“The school is a business for sports, merchandise and research. Our students and academics are second or third at very best.”
Unlike the athletic powerhouses, Guilford College focuses on education and community first and athletics second.
“At Guilford, you are not just an athlete and not just a student,” said Director of the Learning Commons Melissa Daniel Frink. “At UNC, so much focus is on the athlete that you lose the student.
“I feel badly for some students because in high school their education wasn’t emphasized, but their athletics were.”
Guilford’s student-athletes work hard just like non-athletes for earned grades.
“I think Guilford does a good job giving honest grades,” said senior women’s lacrosse player Celine de Perlinghi. “Requirements for students and student-athletes are the same.”
As Guilford expands, the hopes of students and faculty are to keep strong in our values and remain academically driven.
“If Guilford became larger, I think the pressure would definitely be there to give grades,” said Daniel Frink. “I’d like to believe that we would stand our ground in our values and never violate them.”