Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports

Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports

Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports

Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports

Synopsis

In 2010 allegations of an utterly corrupt academic system for student-athletes emerged from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus, home of the legendary Tar Heels. As the alma mater of Michael Jordan, Larry Brown, Marion Jones, Lawrence Taylor, Rashad McCants, and many others; winner of forty national championships in six different sports; and a partner in one of the best rivalries in sports, UNC–Chapel Hill is a world-famous colossus of college athletics. In the wake of the Wainstein report, however, the fallout from this scandal- and the continuing spotlight on the failings of college athletics- has made the school ground zero in the debate about how the $16 billion college sports industry operates.

Written by UNC professor of history Jay Smith and UNC athletics department whistleblower Mary Willingham, Cheated exposes the fraudulent inner workings of this famous university. For decades these internal systems have allowed woefully underprepared basketball and football players to take fake courses and earn devalued degrees from one of the nation's top universities while faculty and administrators looked the other way. In unbiased and carefully sourced detail, Cheated recounts the academic fraud in UNC's athletics department, even as university leaders focused on minimizing the damage in order to keep the billion-dollar college sports revenue machine functioning. Smith and Willingham make an impassioned argument that the "student-athletes" in these programs are being cheated out of what, after all, is promised them in the first place: a college education.

Excerpt

During a summer session sometime between 2003 and 2013, a senior football player for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels scrambled to get his grade point average (GPA) over the eligibility bar in time for the fall playing season. By taking a series of mismatched and notoriously easy courses, he managed to make the grade. One of the fruits of his efforts, however, was a seriously daunting fall course schedule. His schedule was daunting because, though he still clearly hoped to graduate, his advisers had put off until his senior year his basic math, science, and foreign-language requirements. These were some of the most challenging courses he would need to pass in order to collect his UNC diploma. (Indeed, he had already tried and failed the math and science courses for which he was now enrolled for a second time.) Heading into his senior year, it looked very unlikely that this player would ever play a down in the National Football League (NFL); it looked nearly as unlikely that he would ever leave Chapel Hill with a degree in hand. This particular scholarship athlete should be outraged by the way his education was managed. His experience should also trouble every sports fan in America.

This book is about the University of North Carolina and its experience with athletic and academic scandal in the years that followed Marvin Austin’s tweet heard ’round the world on May 29, 2010. The narrative of scandal provided here sheds much new light on the . . .

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