Rashad McCants, the former basketball star on North Carolina’s 2004-05 national championship team, says he rarely attended class and turned in papers written by tutors while attending UNC.
McCants told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that the only reason he was able to stay academically eligible was because he took classes that were designed to keep athletes on the court. McCants said there was a “paper-class” system at UNC that didn’t force students to go to class; rather, they were required to write one paper for the semester that was turned in for a grade. McCants even made the Dean’s List during the spring semester of 2005, after making straight A’s in four classes he says he didn’t attend.
UNC’s recent academic scandal has been widely publicized, with reports of some athletes even having elementary school reading levels. Academic mishaps have been widespread in college sports, with teachers and administrators looking the other way so athletes are able to play on the field.
A famous incident occurred a few years ago when it was discovered that NBA All-Star Derrick Rose paid someone to take his SAT for him, culminating in Memphis being stripped of its 2008 NCAA Title.
McCants’ allegations are common among top college programs. The basketball star said he assumed tutors writing papers for athletes was to be expected for a college athlete. “When you go to college, you don’t do anything, you just show up and play. You’re not there to get an education, though they tell you that,” he said.
McCants was a top scorer on Carolina’s 2004-05 national championship team, although — according to him — he should have been academically ineligible that season after failing half his credits. According to McCants, head coach Roy Williams offered his assistance to help him stay academically eligible, telling him ”we’re going to be able to change a class from, you know, your summer session class and swap it out with the class you failed, just so the GPA could reflect that you are in good standing.”
McCants said that the entire UNC athletic department created the system to keep athletes academically eligible. A copy of McCants’ university transcript revealed that he had stellar grades in his African-American Studies classes. However, he barely passed courses in other subjects.
Other NCAA investigations have turned up similar experiences as McCants’, including an investigation into Tennessee in 2000 that showed athletes had twice as many grade changes as average students. “You’re there to make revenue for the college,” said McCants, “You’re there to put fans in the seats. You’re there to bring prestige to the university by winning games.”