Sunday, June 21, 2015

Random thoughts: the North Carolina scandal, player transfers

Tar Heel Blog over at is reporting that Stephanie Mavunga is now considering a transfer from the North Carolina women's basketball program.  She follows Diamond DeShields, Jessica Washington and Allisha Gray.

So what the hell happened?  It might be a case of rats leaving a sinking ship.  UNC is about to be hit with some serious penalties due to an academic fraud scandal centering around the African and Afro-American Studies departments.  The TL;DR version is from the NCAA's notice:  “...counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) leveraged their relationships with faculty and staff members in the [AFAM] department to obtain and/or provide special arrangements to student-athletes that were not generally available to the student body.”

Read the actual report:  It's pretty damning.  Basically, the athletics department at UNC was funneling students into a program where "Certain AFRI/AFAM courses were anomalous because they were designated as lecture courses but were taught as independent study courses with little, if any, attendance requirements, minimal to no faculty interaction, lax paper writing standards and artificially high final grades.  In some instances, athletics academic counselors within ASPSA made special arrangements and used these courses to help ensure the eligibility of academically at-risk student-athletes."

This went on at the very least for 10 years - 2012-11.  Maybe even longer.

Will UNC get the Death Penalty?  Hell no, they've got a money making basketball/football program!  Using the same figurative language as "Death Penalty" a rational person would expect the NCAA to at least break a kneecap of UNC but all I expect is a slap on the wrist.

A lot of the report mentions Jan Boxill, a women's basketball academic counselor, adding content to the papers of WBB players enrolled in these courses.  Sylvia Hatchell, frankly, should resign.  No excuse not to know what's going on.

There have been a lot of transfers recently in women's basketball, more than anyone following the sport can remember.  My theory is that women's basketball players are finally flexing their muscles.  Most of these young women have followed the NBA (and occasionally, WNBA) for years and now realize that they hold the power in the relationship.  The women's basketball landscape is a lot bigger than just a couple of good programs.  If you're talented and you can't get along with your coach, it's not a death sentence anymore.  With schools committing more money to WBB, trust me, if you're good enough the coach will get along with you.

That and a fact that if the truth be told, a lot of college WBB players don't want to be in college that badly anyway.  They're only there because it's a place they can play basketball, or because the WNBA makes them wait a full four years.  I asked someone who follows the game closely if Diamond DeShields would declare for the WNBA draft before she graduates from Tennessee, and he said, "Diamond DeShields is no scholar.  You can make bank on it."

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