50 Comments

  1. Buddy Collins

    My wife says that you have summed up all of our frustrations in an eloquent and succinct rant in which we would gladly add our voices…. sadly UNC is the embodiment of the hypocrisy that membership in the NCAA requires of its members….the question each member institution must ask is how much of this hypocrisy will be allowed to dominate their institution of higher learning… its motto: Esse Quam Videri….”to be rather to seem” has been turned on its head….The people who created this scheme remain untouched and unaccountable.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Buddy. I know you all share the grief and frustration we feel. The motto has an eery resonance with all of this to be sure.
      Thank you, again, for commenting and for your voice on these important issues.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
      1. Jeff Grady

        Some things you said I agree with, and some I don’t. My simplistic understanding of this “mess” is that UNC admits woefully unprepared student-atheletes and makes every attempt to justify this ill-advised practice. Stop this practice and the problem will melt away.

        Reply
        1. Marcia

          Dear Jeff,
          Thank you for your comments. There is a system and a benefit underneath these patterns we see in big-time sports that are the causes. I hear your view expressed by many people in the UNC community. It sounds like a simple fix. It has ramifications, however, that do not really address the problem.
          Thanks again for commenting. I hope to hear from you again.
          Peace,
          Marcia

          Reply
        2. Bruce Baird, CPA

          Whatever happened to personal responsibility on everyone’s part. The students taking the sham courses knew exactly what they were doing and yet they continued to perpetuate the lies. All involved knew or should have known what was going on after all people talk and the rumor mill usually contains a kernel of truth.

          How do you think all of these students found the classes? You really do not believe a low level secretary pulled this scam off alone do you? I do love the Chancellor and administrators fake outrage. In the end UNC was hurt and thousands of students were failed by the very institution that was entrusted to protect and educate them first and foremost. When I attended NCSU from 1990-1993 I was there to get an education nothing more nothing less. Until the NCAA is reigned in and stripped of its dictatorial powers nothing will ever change in college sports.

          But alas are we so naive to really think that all student athletes are attending the University to study and obtain a degree especially in the billion dollar football and basketball programs.

          It is time to treat every student equally and hold everyone accountable (top to bottom)

          Sincerely

          Bruce

          Reply

    2. I was recruited to work as a director in the Provost’s reporting stream in 2003. I declined the offer at first having told them that I was a very direct speaking black woman and did not think I would fit a Southern institution. They continued to come after me and I finally gave in and came to Carolina. Virtually as soon as I hit campus I had people who liked me and wanted me to say whispering ” be careful,you are challenging the status quo too much.” I was severely disappointed that the motto that you quoted was exactly backward. They wanted to seem to be an equitable, progressive university while protecting their plantation system daily. They specialize specialized hiring people of color that accepted money to help them keep things the same.

      Reply
      1. Marcia

        Dear Dr. Newsom,

        Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. Your experience provides an important perspective–and one that is sorely missing from the conversation. I cannot thank you enough for adding your voice to this conversation here.

        Your comments and participation in the conversation are a blessing beyond measure.

        Peace,
        Marcia

        Reply
    3. John Hopkins

      You still missed the big picture. Over 50% of the students in those classes were regular students. Why no one wants to talk about the 1,000 pound gorilla in the room is understandable. These type of classes exist on every college campus in the America. Colleges, government and wall street started a campaign in the 1970’s to entice high school graduates to go to college instead of going to trade schools or going straight to work. The reason is revenue plain and simple and they have generated enormous amounts. Between the advice from parents and high schools the number of college bound kids has mushroomed. The Millennial’s perhaps hold the most degrees than any generation ever. The cost of that achievement….student loan debt now exceeds over 1 trillion dollars. That is more than mortgages, car payments, and credit cards. Only way to get rid of that debt is have someone pay it off since it is not discharge-able in bankruptcy. So colleges had to figure out a way to fill as many seats as possible and maximize revenue so classes like this came into being. That is why you see degrees in subjects like Folklore and Mythology (Harvard University) Bowling Chasing Management, Canadian Studies, Gender Studies, Star-trek in the Modern World. Possessive Investment In Whiteness – Stanford University . You can see where this is going. Those are big dollar classes and no one pays attention until sports is involved and sports provides an easy villain. What have the students gained from all of that. 35% work in a filed outside of their degree. 50% work in jobs that does not require a college degree. 14% end up with one of those worthless degrees and everyone else makes out like bandits This generation will be the first will be the first that may not do better than their parents.

      Reply
      1. Marcia

        Dear John,
        Thank you for taking the time to read and share your perspective. Your comments take the conversation in a different direction. And while that direction is interesting and worth our attention, I do think that the world of revenue sports on college campuses is worth our gaze in particular even though I agree with you that bogus classes and cheating are not a problem unique to athletics. In my chapter on higher education in my new book on big-time sports I make a similar argument. I would love for you to take a look and let me know what you think.
        Thank you, again, for reading and commenting. I appreciate you adding your voice.
        Peace,
        Marcia

        Reply
  2. native

    You may be relieved to know that your subjective view and firsthand experience is supported by the statistics; I’d include a graph but that appears to be blocked. MBB players took about 2.5 AFAM classes/player in the 4 year 2003-2006 period. This is twice the rate of the football team and MBB is only slightly higher than WBB (which was still quite a bit higher than football). Yet they blame the people who have been fired/displaced.

    In addition, the revered (nearly all white) baseball team has been linked in the supporting docs and yet not a word…not a word yet. Oh, did I mention soccer? The very limited number of emails is revealing, 900 out of 1.2mln, what in the world is in the others? Reading them will open your eyes.

    Also, it is important to note that it was AFAM’s fault but the faculty member that was so obviously morally corrupt was Boxill (who sat in Philosophy), not the chair of the AFAM dept.

    Your first hand experiences mirror the evidence and as a white male from a family of UNC alum, I am ashamed. All evil requires is for good people to do nothing, so key speaking out. Rev Sharpton nails the issue on the head in a recent interview in Nashville, more worrisome to him than Donald Sterling. Only one aspect of the issue but it is an important one.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your comments. I appreciate you adding your perspective and insights. You are right that inaction and silence provides care and feeding for injustices to thrive. These are complicated issues to be sure, but complacency is the enemy of needed reform.
      Thank you, again, for weighing in.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  3. Daniel Jones

    The irony of your screed is more of the same politically correct white hand wringing over the poor victimized “people of color”. You are exhibiting the same tell tale signs of “soft racism” that gets us to this place to begin with. Nowhere in your writing do you lay any blame or responsibility on the shoulders of the black athlete who is responsible for seeing that he or she take advantage of their educational opportunities. Nor do you hold responsible the High Schools these kids come from that were passed through while not completing the same rigorous schooling many of their peers did simply because they were exceptional in sports. What we’re dealing with now is a societal norm – the soft racism of lowered expectations. By reading the sanctimonious tone of your column, I would suggest that you are just as much a part of the problem as is the university at which you are pointing your shaking finger in defense of your husband.

    All students should be held to the same standards period. If they can’t do the work at a more rigorous university, then they can go to a less rigorous one. Be they young men, women, white or not. Until everyone, yourself included, stop making excuses for others by blaming those who are perceived to be taking advantage of them, this type of thing will continue. You are piling on in defense of your husband and assuaging your own white guilt over your own perceived advantages. There are myriad examples of success stories in this country that cross all gender and racial boundaries. Until excellence becomes the standard by which people are judged and not the latest political whim of the day, there will not be any progress and these type of scenarios will continue with abandon, as they surely do exist in every university today.

    Reply
    1. Mitch

      Joseph is exactly correct. The fact that you choose to idict only UNC in your condemnation is laughable on its face. Predictably, you’ll accuse me of trotting out the “well, everybody else is doing it too” defense. I offer no such excuse. What was done was inexcusable. There is no defense. But your failure to even mention this issue exists much more broadly than UNC makes you a much less credible source of complaint. Are you actually naively suggesting it doesn’t exist elsewhere?
      As a university family we will suffer more punishment (in fsct, we have and we should). But if the university were to actually cease to exist (it won’t of course), but if it did, the real issue would still not be resolved. But you, of course, would have your pound of flesh. You claim seemers are seeking vindication at the expense of others…hello pot…meet kettle. You and your husband were there. You claim (rightly so) that the coaching staff your husdand was a part of came in at the tail end of this sordid ordeal. And you knew nothing? You’re both highly educated people. Yet, you saw nothing amiss? You raised your own voice how? Again you feel free to criticize others who should’ve known or seen something but fail to hold yourselves I the same standard. Then brazen holier-than-thou hypocrisy is breathtaking.
      Peace. Out.

      Reply
      1. Marcia

        Dear Mitch,

        Thank you for your comments and for taking time to articulate your perspective. I hope you will consider this reply a response to both of your comments to me.

        I couldn’t agree with you more that this issue is something that all universities share. In fact, a lot of my work has been about that very issue. I hope you will take a look at some of that. I would like to know what you think. My chapter on Higher Education in my new book will be especially of interest to you.

        While John and I were at UNC (after 12 years in the NFL) we did speak out about problems we saw both before and after he got fired. Once the NCAA came to town our learning curve was steep. We learned a lot that deeply grieved us. This paper class problem was not something we were aware of then. But the problems we were aware of we certainly spoke out about–and not just as UNC issues, but as issues facing the world of big-time sports in general.

        I am not sure if you caught any of my Calling Audibles blog series during that time, but those posts dealt with the NCAA, student-athlete human rights, and more.

        If you are concerned about these larger issues I hope you will keep speaking out about them. Change is coming, but unless we all work together to ask the questions that need to be asked those changes might not necessarily deal with the most pressing issues.

        Thanks again, Mitch.

        Peace to you,
        Marcia

        Reply
  4. H

    Your husband and your family have certainly benefited from this “scheme” as you call it. Currently he’s making $400,000 a year to coach football at Purdue. He was at UNC in 2007, 2008 and 2009 when the afam department was thriving in the middle of this scheme. I assume he was also making a substantial salary during this time as well. What happens to all those poor “inner city” kids that your husband coached who don’t make it after college? Do they end up in jail, homeless, in gangs? Meanwhile, your family is still profiting from college sports just like all the schemers you cite in your post.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear H,
      Thank you for weighing in. I agree with you. We do benefit from it. And it is something with which we struggle and it is one of the things that pushes us as Christians to be voices for reform. John went in to coaching because he cares about the young men he coaches and because the coaches he had made a big difference in his life. I agree with you that what happens to the 98% of Division I football players who don’t go pro is a huge concern. That is one of the reasons we stay in this business and one of the reasons I do what I do–and wrote my book. I hope you will read it and let me know what you think.
      Thanks again, H. Blessings to you in your good work. I’d love to hear more about what you do.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
      1. Patrick

        You stay in this business because it pays your bills, and you cannot escape your own culpability in the system as a result. Until John leaves college football, you have no moral ground from which to write this column, even though most of what you said was right. Right message, wrong messenger.

        Reply
        1. Marcia

          Dear Patrick,

          Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. As you may know, John spent 12 years of his career in the NFL. When we made the decision to leave the NFL and come to UNC we came because we were dedicated to the larger purpose we believed college football brought to players. We have never regretted that move although we have learned some troubling lessons during our time in the college game so far.

          I will have to hear more from you to understand why you feel that someone closely connected to a business that has corruption is not someone who has moral grounds for speaking out. From where I sit (and many people have pointed this out to me) speaking out is certainly not in my self-interest as we have plenty to lose. I am speaking out from a moral imperative, not because I have anything to gain. Hopefully you can find the space within your perspective to extend some grace to me because of that fact. I hope more people who share this life with John and me will begin to speak out. Change needs to be informed by the actual realities not dictated by those completely outside the everyday lives of players.

          We will not leave the college game because we care about the players and we care about these problems. And if you truly feel my message is right I hope you will find ways to be an advocate for players and for reform. You certainly do not need to partner with me or anyone else in the business to be someone who works for change. If you are a UNC alum I hope you will make your views known to your alma mater.

          I would welcome the chance to hear more about your life context. And especially I would like to hear how you address moral dilemmas in your life contexts. Do you stay quiet if you are too close to the problems? Or do you speak out because you feel called to work for change?

          Thanks again for commenting, Patrick. I hope to hear from you again.

          Peace,
          Marcia

          Reply
          1. Patrick

            My main problem with your column is its judgmental and sanctimonious tone. You harshly judge the university and the NCAA system as racist, exploitative, deceitful, and callous, and it probably is. You mention the duty of “we Christians” to speak out about such terrible systems (how sanctimonious can you get?). And yet, despite judging the system in such harsh terms, you’re happy to pocket $400,000 a year from it. Oh, and you’ve also written a book you’d like everyone to BUY. Do you really think Jesus would continue to participate in such a despicable system? No way. He’d start flipping over tables.

            You asked how I deal with such issues. The day I decided that it was cruel to exploit animals for food, I went vegetarian, and later vegan (once I appreciated what dairy cows go through). The animal food system was too cruel for me to continue benefiting from it. To me, it’s hypocritical to judge a system as cruel out of one side of one’s mouth, while filling the other side of one’s mouth with the products of that system. And you and John are very full from the benefits of the college football system, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

            Point out the problems in the system all you want, but don’t condescend towards the system if you’re going to continue collecting a paycheck from it. A little humility please.

        2. Marcia

          Dear Patrick,

          Thanks for continuing the conversation. You are right that things with a sanctimonious tone can be off-putting. And, I agree that weaving together righteous anger with humility is an important skill when speaking out against injustice. I will continue to work on that.

          Like you, I seek to line up my actions throughout the day with my beliefs. We share a love of animals it seems. I also pay a lot of attention to what I eat and where it comes from. I applaud your willingness to live into your beliefs with such integrity.

          It seems like you have a problem with the value the market places on the work that coaches do. That is, indeed, an interesting topic for conversation. I discuss that some in my book. Like many things, it is a complicated issue that deserves our collective scrutiny.

          As far as making money off my book, if you have any proximity to the publishing world you must have said that with tongue firmly in cheek. If you have aspirations of making a living by writing books, I encourage you to find another vocational path. Writing books is a tough way to make a living these days. I do it because it is what I feel called to do, not to make money. I am thankful to be able to write and to connect with people around issues that matter through writing.

          Take good care, Patrick. Thanks again for being a part of this conversation.

          Peace,
          Marcia

          Reply
          1. Patrick

            I don’t have a problem with the money coaches make, except that the athletes upon whose backs that money is made don’t get to share in it. My problem is that you have harshly called college football, particularly at UNC, exploitative and racist (including now in the N&O), and yet you seem to have no problem continuing to benefit financially from that exploitation and racism. It’s like an old Southern slave master complaining in the early 1800s that the South didn’t treat blacks well. How are you in any position to pile onto UNC’s humiliation right now? UNC could end it’s athletic department tomorrow, but Purdue would still employ your husband. Do you really think Purdue’s participation in this system is any less exploitative and racist than UNC’s?

  5. Marcia

    Dear Daniel,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and to share your perspective. I appreciate hearing from you.
    I had to read through your comments a few times to follow your points and I think I am hearing a few things.

    One of your points, and it is a good one, is that there are many more layers of responsibility to reach back into high schools, etc. I agree that the “soft racism” as you call it is demeaning and dehumanizing to be sure.

    Another point you are making is that I am part of the problem. I happen to agree with you. It is something that I struggle with in my own life as a pastor, theologian, ethicist, coach’s wife, Christian, and human being. I don’t have any other way through that but to be as honest with myself as I can. For me, being an advocate for the student athletes that I know and love is one way that I try to bring to bear my beliefs and values on the life that I live.

    Another point you are making seems to be that everyone should be treated the same and held to the same standards. While I understand the laudable impulse behind that principle, it is a dangerous one in a country that has not dealt with the true costs of generations of racialized discrimination. It is not that we need to hold people of color to a lower standard. It is that we need to face up to the real deficits that slavery, racism, and privilege create. Those are not things that rhetoric or principle can erase. They are very real and very tenacious. I don’t think we’ve figured out yet as a country how to honestly deal with these realities.

    Thank you, again, Daniel for weighing in here. All the best to you and yours.

    Peace,
    Marcia

    Reply
    1. Daniel Jones

      Marcia, I respect your thoughtful response, but I feel you’re still missing the point. Liberal guilt and its efforts to “make things right” have not worked out as they intended. Look no further than Johnson’s Great Society initiative. The black family was destroyed. What was once a very vibrant and healthy familial lifestyle was upended by “well meaning whites” who thought they new better how to “fix” racism in America. Black males were seeing that government could better support their families than they could. They left their families in droves. Black culture has never recovered.

      Indentured Irish and Chinese as well as indentured Whites in the early days of this country have managed to pull themselves up and out of the “white liberal entitlement mindset”, but somehow blacks in this country cannot. I posit that this is expressly because of well meaning and good-hearted people such as yourself. Your good deeds only ensure making an entire culture reliant on those same “horrid whites” that enslaved them in the first place. All in the name of their vote at the ballot box. Let’s call this what it is – the systemic control of a segment of our society by “well meaning” liberals whose only real objective is to keep them down and control their vote. My objective through my “rhetoric and principle” is simply to – set them free.

      Reply

      1. Daniel, the black family has not been destroyed. You obviously know no black people. And you obviously either know nothing about race and tacos or you are a member of the delusional Fox News tribe. I am a black PhD ,been married for more than forty years , no one in my extended family has ever been on welfare, all of my children are college educated upstanding members of the community. I have family members, children, nieces, nephews, with degrees from Stanford, Michigan, MIT. Some blacks are privileged too, but unlike you we do not look down on others who are not and blame them for their situations. And if you believe public aid destroyed the black family since way more whites are on welfare than blacks how are those families doing? Or are whites such superior creatures that food stamps and public aid do not corrupt them? Please stop talking about things you know nothing about. It makes you appear ignorant.

        Reply
        1. Marcia

          Dear Dr. Newsom,

          Again, thank you for sharing your important and instructive perspective. As I mentioned to Daniel, there are clear signs in our country (as you know) that race is still an open wound.

          The points you make are an excellent window into the complexity of it that Americans are not good at honoring and understanding. And, I think the most important point you raise is the centrality of real relationships with real people. Friendships and intimacy with people across racial identities are, as another recent study suggests, almost non existent for most white Americans.

          Thank you, again, Dr. Newsom. I am grateful for your voice here.

          Peace,
          Marcia

          Reply
      2. Marcia

        Dear Daniel,

        Thanks for taking the time to explain more about your point of view. Hearing more does help me understand why we are not on the same page. You and I see the world very differently.

        The work I do on race and privilege has helped me to better understand the complexities and the real loss that racism leaves in its wake. I am sure you have experiences that have informed your perspective. For me, your perspective does not connect to the real lives of real people with whom I am tangled up in my life.

        Aside from our different perspectives, there are clear indicators in American culture that race is something our country desperately needs to address in a more healing mode. May both of us find our way to that important work in the ways the world needs us to most.

        Peace,
        Marcia

        Reply

    2. You are bang on as usual! The University has bent so far over backward to ignore the racist roots of the scandal that they could be contortionists in a circus. Thanks for saying what lots if people know but are not saying! You rock!

      Reply
      1. Marcia

        Dear Dr. Newsom,

        Thank you for your affirmations. I can’t tell you how much they mean to me!

        Peace,
        Marcia

        Reply
  6. Abraham Lincoln

    Well, there’s a reason Bill Friday referred to himself as the “redneck hero” during the civil rights movement when he refused to diversify his campus after federal demands. He was following in the footsteps of every racist in UNC’s history, including Cornelia Spencer Philips who shut down UNC during Reconstruction so UNC would not have to admit black students under federal demands. What religion do Carol Folt and Kenneth Wainstein share? Might tell you about a group who never intend to be replaced at the top.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Abraham Lincoln (!),

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I was aware of the Bill Friday lore, but had not heard about Cornelia Spencer Philips. Another grievous page in the history books. I thought of many related things when the powers that be kept referring to the “proud” history of the university. There are certainly plenty of things that merit our collective remembering in terms of a not-proud legacy around race and privilege.

      Thank you, again, for bringing this particular part of the history to my attention. I hope you will keep reading and commenting.

      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  7. Mitch

    I apologize for the typing errors in previous post. I’m not the best typist under the best circumstances, but I was typing from a cell phone as fast as I could write.
    The bottom line for me is: A lot of your complaints are well founded, but when your complaints are directed against a single institution, UNC in this case, for an issue as endemic as the one you’ve identified, you come across as being less concerned about really addressing the big problem and much more focused on excoriating and punishing UNC.
    The attack seems personal and petty. It’s much too important an issue to have it devolve into that. It needs to be addressed everywhere it exists.

    Reply
    1. Patty

      Mitch, it’s understandable that you’re concerned about addressing problems which exist everywhere in our society. I am too, and I know from her work that Marcia Mount Shoop is too. But it’s only natural and right that each of us should work mostly within our own spheres, whatever they may be, to right these wrongs where they appear, even while caring deeply about the bigger picture — “Think globally, act locally”. So it seems to me that she is doing only what any of us would do in her situation: feeling strongly about this institution she has been closely involved with and speaking strongly when she sees things that aren’t right. There’s nothing “petty” about that, “personal” though it may be.

      Reply
      1. Mitch

        Thank you Patty for your comment. I too, believe in the philosophy of “thinking globally and acting locally”.
        Therein lies the rub for me with regards to Dr. Shoop’s article…she never articulates the issue as a global one…only as a local one. If we were to eliminate 100% of the problems she identifies at UNC (and ones unidentified as well), we’d still be left with 99% of the issue unresolved across the country. That doesn’t mean that you don’t address the issues at Carolina…of course we should….all of them. But without putting the need to do so in the context of solving the larger issues, her argument comes across as an attack on a single institution, which makes it seem personally driven and renders it petty. Her lack of context serves to undermine what would otherwise seem fair criticism. Attack UNC all you want, unfortunately, most of the criticism is deserved. But don’t pretend these same issues don’t exist elsewhere if you really want to be the standard bearer for change and reform. An awful lot of attacks are coming from those whose own institutions would not stand up to scrutiny or who’s own house is not in order, I can assure you.

        Reply
        1. Marcia

          Dear Mitch,

          I hope my comments above will direct you to some of the work I have done on the realities you mention. I am curious, too, about how you locate my comments about the NCAA in this particular post as far as connecting it to the larger issues you mentioned. I guess I thought it went without saying that invoking the NCAA implies a critique of all of its member institutions. I would like to hear how you understand the NCAA in terms of your concerns.

          Hope to hear from you again.

          Peace,
          Marcia

          Reply
      2. Marcia

        Dear Patty,

        Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you articulating this so well. I couldn’t have expressed it better myself!

        Peace,
        Marcia

        Reply
  8. Erv

    Dr. Newsom:

    Your black Liberal racism permeated your entire response to Daniel, as highlighted by your snide and derogatory remark about the “delusional Fox News tribe.” Daniel absolutely is correct in his assertion that the black family has been destroyed. You tout your PhD, being married for more than forty years, no one in your extended family having ever been on welfare, and all of your children being college educated, upstanding members of the community. Congratulations! You are among a ridiculously small percentage of the black community who have achieved that status.

    If the black family hasn’t been destroyed, why are there so many black families with only one parent, usually the mother… sometimes neither? Why are most black children today born out of wedlock? On Senior Day at my Alma Mater, I cringe when I see one black athlete after another run out and into the welcoming arms of a mother… no father in sight. And not so infrequently, they run into the arms of a grandmother or an aunt… no parents in sight.

    It’s wonderful that you have family members, children, nieces, nephews, and whatever who have degrees from the likes of Stanford, Michigan and MIT. No doubt you all live in beautiful homes, have nice cars and enjoy the good life along with other one-percenters in this country. Yes, some blacks, like you, are among the privileged. Perhaps you should consider coming out of your ivory tower and see the black world as it really is for a huge percentage of family-less blacks. Then you and your well-meaning white liberal do-gooder friends might have a better appreciation of the problems that the “real” black community endures every day.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Erv,

      While I appreciate you reading and taking time to comment, I am saddened by your comments. Please take a moment to find a more generous place from which to write if you choose to post here again.

      I work hard to honor each person’s voice and welcome all different perspectives to the conversation. I have to say that it strikes me as deeply disrespectful for you to suggest that a woman of Dr. Newsom’s experience and wisdom doesn’t know about black experience. I wonder what it would take for you to honor and hear her for what she is sharing in her comments.

      In my read of her comments, she is trying to complicate some stereotypes. And it seems like that has hit a nerve for you. I wonder what it is about the stereotypes you are resurfacing here that you are most attached to.

      If you do choose to write again, I would like to hear more about what is at stake for you in families that have expanded networks of caring for children or in families not fitting the norm you must have for yourself. One of the marks of white culture is our assumption that the way we do things is the norm and/or should be the norm. Those assumptions leave little room for the idiosyncrasies of real lives to take up space in a way that is respectful and life-giving.

      Also, Erv, please remember that “real” black community, as you invoke, includes real black people–and Dr. Newsom is a real black person. We should probably let her be the one to help us expand our consciousness about the communities she inhabits and not vice versa.

      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply

  9. Marcia, I thank you for being a powerful and courageous voice during a time when many people in the UNC community have to be feeling terrible, attacked, and exposed. Some people in the comments above are clearly invested in UNC being implicated only if other schools are simultaneously mentioned. These words emerge when people hate the hot lamp, however just. It’s much like the child who cries, “He did it, too! Why don’t you take his candy?”

    You know firsthand from being at UNC and from even these blog posts what it’s like to have your own and your husband’s integrity questioned, but never have you lashed out. You’re a voice of reason and openness; just look at how you handle difficult comments.

    I know you both personally as advocates for justice and willing to ask everyone, including yourselves, to be their absolute best.

    I say this to UNC fans and grads: it hurts to be told the truth and it hurts to find out that “the Carolina way” perhaps never was–or was only for some. All colleges are institutions full of white privilege, and every school will have its day under the hot lamp. The NCAA is also long overdue. It’s time for all to be humble and deal. No white person wants to be told they’re racist, and it hurts to have a beloved institution called out for having the ways of white privilege.

    Part of the problem here is human pride. It’s always dangerous for us to call ourselves out as special. As a Stanford grad, I never heard about “the Stanford way.” I don’t like talking about my degree…somedays I wonder if I deserve it, knowing how many smart people I attended school with, and seeing how many of my smartest high school students I taught couldn’t get in. I know that my father’s attendance, my privileged private school education, my being surrounded by books and being middle class, certainly didn’t hurt my Stanford acceptance. I have benefited from lots of privileges and yeah, call it white guilt, but I’ve spent my life in education and nonprofits doing my best to give back. I’m also grateful for all my privileges. You can’t label me as 100% White Guilt Girl. I’m a complex human being. How about you call me “aware”? I’m not paralyzed, I don’t think people should “get away” without working and without going to school. Don’t assume because I’m a white liberal that I don’t believe in hard work and integrity for all. And I’m also aware that others don’t have a level playing field to access college…I speak the truth that I know firsthand. I have friends of different races and ethnicities who work harder than I do who have hurdles they encounter EVERY SINGLE DAY that I as a white person don’t ever deal with. I have never been confused with another white woman, over and over, within a small organization. I have received different treatment than my black colleagues, when making the same request, and privileged treatment, even though my black colleagues acted more diplomatically and more politely than I did. I could go on. I see it, daily. It frustrates me, it frustrates my colleagues, but we call it what it is and we move on. We hold ourselves to the same standards while trying to be open to the fact that some people have different stressors, and we need to be sensitive to everyone’s unique challenges.

    Here’s my question for all colleges and for the NCAA: if you accept athletes who can’t read or write, then why not make it your mission to ensure, 100%, no exceptions, that all these athletes graduate with a) an 8th-10th grade reading level, b) financial planning classes, c) courses in psychology, wellness, nutrition, and other life management skills (heck, I needed those before I graduated!) and use all the financial resources of the institution to remedy the wrongs committed by society and public education prior? I am a former public school teacher–part of the public education system–and I know how hard it was to raise a kid’s reading level in a year. But I had 120+ kids to serve, and only so many hours in the day…and limited taxpayer funds to aid me. Surely our great colleges and universities could find creative ways to right these wrongs and press the alums to donate and to get on board to ensure that no athlete leaves the classes and fields without raising the bar of their reading level and their ability to function as successful adults.

    I’m sure Stanford has too-easy classes for athletes and other privileged undergrads…but I would venture to say that the system isn’t as pervasive, because Stanford is confident in its academic reputation as being enough. It’s never been driven by win-win-win…though as its football program grows stronger, we can all say, “We shall see.” I’ve heard people say that when Duke rose to prominence in the late 80s/early 90s, UNC was troubled and made some compromises. As someone who works at Duke, a rival institution to UNC in sports, I’m always mystified at people sitting within the walls of Duke, taking a Duke paycheck, who’ve talked about what a horrible, terrible place Duke is (privileged and elitist and racist), with the worst things said about Coach K (“Ratface” being a typical name, which has ethnic stereotyping all over it), while hearing how UNC is always better. I remember during the lacrosse scandal at Duke how UNC fans gloated and nodded that Duke was getting its just desserts. I am an ex-Californian who doesn’t get the meanness of this rivalry…I do know that whatever people think of Duke, it’s a private institution that doesn’t take taxpayer funds when it needs to get lawyers and do investigations, it is a need-blind university when it comes to financial aid, and it has a very diverse student population (check the stats). The lacrosse scandal showed the white and misogynistic privilege of young men who think hiring strippers is a great idea. As some of the commenters said earlier, it goes on everywhere. But that doesn’t excuse the Duke players. Don’t hire strippers. Period. The same to UNC. Don’t offer shadow classes. Admit the names of those in leadership who knew, AND, admit that you as a university did not care that you “graduated” illiterate young men and women. Now make a vow never to do it again.

    I believe we live in an Age of Exposure, where you can try to hide what you do–whether you’re the NSA or UNC–but the truth will out. There have been months of “investigations” run by UNC grads, adjudicated by judges who went to UNC, and reported by ESPN (ask how many of ESPN’s staff went to UNC). And now, despite all the cover-ups, you have national news organizations saying, “This is bad. 18 years? How do these banners stand?” Atlantic Monthly on the Wainstein Report: “a total whitewash.” You can’t hide anymore.

    All of us are subject to this scrutiny and trust me, whatever we keep in the dark, it will come out. It’s UNC’s turn and I challenge university leadership to own up and make a mission to foster lasting, transformative change in how it treats student athletes.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Lyn,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Your insights are important and speak from several compelling examples. The problems with revenue sport on university campuses are complicated, but not intractable. I continue to pray that the powers that be will be open to a more nuanced and substantive conversation about these issues.

      Thank you, again, for sharing your voice. It adds another rich layer to the conversation here.

      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  10. Nathan

    I appreciate your take on this. And I love that you actually read the report. It’s impossible to have any meaningful discussion with someone who hasn’t taken the time to do so.

    Unfortunately, I don’t buy the “we took advantage of these poor athletes” narrative. Moreover, the notion that athletes should somehow be compensated above and beyond their scholarships is obscene.

    I’m tired of hearing about the one-half of 1 percent of our student athletes (who actually have the power to market their likeness). Not the 99.5 percent of student athletes who are supported by the programs in place. What Carolina gives our student athletes, in terms of academic, athletic, financial aid, support for room and board, training, mentoring, student services, tutoring, is more than the average household income. And for some of our teams, it’s pushing into $70,000 a year per student athlete, and pushes into the top third of household incomes. Tell me one individual whose likeness is worth more than the average household income. That’s right, not even ‘Famous’ Jamous Winston can stake that claim.

    Don’t get me wrong, any of the student athletes who read the material and wrote their own papers are at no fault for the grades Debbie Crowder awarded them. Indeed, it is certainly plausible that some of them had no idea who was grading their work. I know that I never actually watched a professor grade my work at Carolina. Although, I was never enrolled in a class that never assembled, either.

    No doubt, we failed these students on some level. Whether we assumed they were incapable of remaining eligible while enrolled in legitimate courses or we provided underperforming individuals with a facile loophole with which they could remain on a Tar Heel roster, both are equally unfair. I firmly believe Carolina has taken the necessary steps to eradicate the “system” Crowder allegedly established. The athletes who were not afforded the opportunity to enroll in genuine courses as well as the athletes who were more or less gifted passing grades and were never challenged by the rigors of genuine college coursework, deserve a sincere apology.

    Yet, at the end of the day, it’s actually quite simple: each one of us knows if we honestly completed the work required to earn our respective degree(s). Media and rivals fans (and perhaps, now, prospective employers) will no doubt question degrees earned in Chapel Hill, but I know the value of the degree I earned at the University of North Carolina. And so, too, do the athletes who competed and studied here.

    There are tremendous obstacles facing the NCAA and indeed, our beloved college athletic model. However, I believe the pendulum has swung too far in favor of the “student” athlete. I worked in college athletics for three years and had the privilege of working closely with coaches, athletes and administrators. The notion that athletes are victims is not only inaccurate but downright perverse. The vast majority of athletes, especially those who compete in revenue-generating arenas, are admitted to schools they would never be considered for based on their academic merit alone. And once arriving upon campus, they have academic advisors, tutors, nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches, clergy and athletic trainers (sports medicine) at their disposal, free of charge. Their academic advisors register them for classes BEFORE anyone else on campus can do so. Moreover, they are given the opportunity to travel the country while playing a sport they (presumably) love. In one season alone as the Sports Information Director for Carolina Volleyball, I visited Chicago, Boston, Miami, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Malibu. Not to mention some of the most popular college towns, Charlottesville, VA, and Kalamazoo, MI.

    That is to say, the student athletes on full athletic scholarships, are actually afforded more assistance, opportunities and experiences in 4-6 years than some of us will be fortunate enough to encounter over a lifetime. And let us not forget the thousands of individuals earning their degrees while working 1-2 jobs and accumulating debt. And they are not afforded any of the benefits of an athletic scholarship

    Reply
  11. Nick

    Wow, wow, wow. Thank you for writing this. You hit the nail square on the head. In the comments, John continued to firm up salient points. It’s unfortunate that some people still seem to think that exploiting naive, underprivileged youth by giving them a free and useless AFAM degree in exchange for millions of dollars in uncompensated labor is a “more than equal” exchange. Thank you most of all for being honest about how your family has benefitted from it. That takes a measure of courage not many have.

    Reply
  12. Marcia

    Dear Nathan,

    Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to share so many of your thoughts.

    I invite you to take a look at a few important studies on the actual lived realities of revenue athletes. One is the Drexel University study entitled “The Price of Poverty in Bigtime College Sports.” I discuss this study in my higher education chapter in my new book.

    The other study that provides us with some important information is a University of Pennsylvania study entitled “Black Male Student-Athletes and Racial Inequities in NCAA Division I College Sports.” I also use this study in my chapters on race and higher education.

    I hope you will take a look at both of those studies online. They provide some important information for all of us to take into account when we think about revenue sports and higher education.

    Regardless of how you feel about whether universities need to provide more adequate financial assistance to athletes or not, I wonder about your thoughts on what good reason there is to set revenue athletes apart as a different class of student/human being when it comes to allowing them access to the marketplace (the right to benefit from their labor in ways that the market will bear–e.g. being in a commercial, selling an autograph, etc) and when it comes to due process rights. Those troubling realities pose the biggest threat to the integrity of universities in my read of the situation.

    Also, I wonder how it would feel to you if you were barred from receiving advice and assistance from headhunters/financial advisors, etc. in whatever field you choose to pursue. Why have we singled out revenue athletes as the only vocational track in which a person is not allowed to talk to an agent during their college career. In most states now, this kind of contact for athletes with someone who could help their career get off the ground is a felony offense. No other vocational track has such barriers against advocacy and agency.

    As far as the travel goes, I’ve been on several game trips with John during his over 20 years of coaching. You pretty much see a plane, a bus, a hotel, a stadium, and then another bus and a plane. The players are there to play a football game and they do not routinely get to do anything else unless it is a bowl game and there are some planned activities for the team.

    I hope you will keep reading and commenting. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Peace,
    Marcia

    Reply
  13. Jeff Henighan

    You have raised many good points, even the ones I don’t full agree with. I saw it mentioned in another comment, but I too am very disappointed in the scapegoating. There are plenty of “light classes” on any campus, and students pass the info via word of mouth. They are open to every student, and are often attended more by rich kids, than anyone else. I’m as disappointed in the University for not backing its kids as I am with any misconduct.

    Reply
  14. Dave Emmett

    Marcia: Wow, what a great post, thanks for sharing. I have often wondered if anyone was ever going to speak up and point out the the CHeaters have continuously tried to attach most of this thing to Davis and his staff. No doubt they had plenty of mistakes, but this was the coach, after all, credited with reforming Miami, interesting that he lost all his morals when he moved to Chapel Hill.
    I just do not find the Wainstein report believable. It is so obvious that Roy is playing the “aw shucks” routine. No one at the school or their “independent” and very well paid investigator is calling him out. Are they that afraid that they cannot find someone to fill his dag-gum shoes? Roy must go! Heck! has a newspaper or anyone in the national media even called for his firing? The guy knew, he steered McCants to a fake Dean’s List semester and the transcripts prove that. He gives the non denial, denial that he can’t remember. How could he forget? Without McCants they do not win the NCAA Title. Until the school fires Roy and takes down the fraudulent banners, there is no sign they are serious. In fact, it is really offensive they would spend taxpayer time and money spinning this tale.
    As for the “it happens everywhere” apologists, I have two points. (1) Name one other place that has ever had such deep and long academic fraud as this. Easy majors are available everywhere, but not even the most egregious SEC offenders have shown anything close to this. And (2) UNC has long held itself up as the model for student-athletics, as the example of a place that was not swayed by the corruption that so many others gave in to. The defense that the system is so corrupt, that in fact, now we all are so corrupt, for watching ESPN and buying $200 Nike’s that we have managed to corrupt even UNC….That argument is even more insulting to those of us struggling honest souls who think for ourselves. Thanks again for the speaking out. I look forward to reading your book.

    Reply
  15. Ted Rathbun

    Marcia
    Oh my, you have opened a door many would prefer you leave closed. The short view is this is “black on black” crime. White people looking the other way isn’t particularly admirable but not a crime. I was a “Yankee”, as they called me, and graduated from UNC in 1965 and saw first hand racial attitudes you probably would not believe today. I went on to spend 13 months in the Vietnam as an Lt. in the Marines and saw black, white, Hispanic blood all run red. The NCAA is an enabler to this profitable and entertaining industry. Since this all began I keep asking when is someone going to step up. Thank you.
    Ted

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  16. Chris

    Thank you so much for your thoughts on this important subject. I have felt that “race” was at the heart of the UNC scandal from the very beginning but, honestly, my thoughts were that UNC was being attacked partly due to racism. My thoughts were that many couldn’t stomach the fact that disadvantaged youth could gain access to the school through sports.

    This UNC scandal has turned many things that I thought were true on their head. I am still trying to process it all but I think I am coming around to some radical things that I would like to see happen regarding UNC sports.

    Reply
  17. Mike

    Marcia,

    I met and sat beside you and your family at your first UNC/Duke Basketball game and know of the care for the kids that you and your husband has/had for these young men. You made a lasting comment about a highly recruited quarterback that ended up transferring. I asked you about him. I was curious about his football abilities. Your response resonated with me. Your response was this ” He is a great young man and I would trust him alone at my house with any of my children” What a compliment. As a parent, I could not imagine a higher one.

    You and your husband’s care for these young men impressed me so much that you have disclosed the unspoken flaw of our great University.

    No one seams to have looked for similar classes in our English Department or our French Department or our Sociology Department. They are there I took them.

    Reply

  18. Dear Marcia,

    Your original post, and the wide variety of responses it has prompted, are very illuminating.

    I was one of the first British Morehead scholars at Chapel Hill, arriving on campus in 1970. Born and brought up in Scotland, I had never even met a black person until I arrived on campus. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the profound culture shock I suffered was the expectation on the part of Whites and Blacks alike that because I was white, I must be a racist. No one seems to be able to cope with the concept of a white 18-year-old with absolutely no preconceived notions about race.

    As an outsider, it was a profound shock for me to understand the degree to which racial prejudice was intimately bound up in almost every aspect of daily life both in the University and outside it. Howard Lee had recently been elected as the Mayor of Chapel Hill, and it was difficult for me to understand why that was such a big issue, along with the fact that it was big news when the Kappa Alpha fraternity had to cancel its annual ritual of Old South Day, which featured members parading up Franklin Street on horseback, dressed in Confederate army uniforms.

    I still find it shocking that over 40 years on, American society is still so racially divided (and I would include the historic treatment of Native Americans, which appears to be a blind spot with many).

    All of this may seem to be somewhat distant from the sporting issues which we are currently discussing. But it isn’t, really. College sport, or to be more specific the so-called “money sports” of football and basketball, have an enormous hold on the American psyche. Allegiances to university teams are far more powerful than allegiances to an NBA or NFL team.

    As a British businessman with a UNC background, I have found throughout my career when meeting Americans for the first time, that business tends to go out of the window when I mention that I am a Chapel Hill alum. The next 5 or 10 minutes is all about basketball, because that is what most Americans think of first when UNC is mentioned.

    As many people have mentioned, college sport is not only massively popular with the general public and therefore central to the self-image and prestige of major academic institutions, but it is staggeringly profitable for all of the big interests involved. The big problem is, as you have pointed out, that college sport is massively exploitative of young people with athletic talent who are expected to be “good students” in amongst the non-stop agenda of practice, weight room, more practice, road trips, et cetera.

    Black or white, is patently clear that too much is expected of college athletes, who, to an obscene degree, are under-recompensed for their efforts. I have seen this described elsewhere as “the new slavery” and I tend to agree. There is a conveyor belt that starts in junior high school and leads ultimately to the big leagues, with money being made out of these kids at every stage.

    I would not like to be in the shoes of the NCAA at the moment.

    Death penalty for UNC? That would satisfy some, but would likely trigger a massive backlash from all the people who would lose money as a result, to say nothing of all those interests with a UNC allegiance. Volraire memorably wrote, in Candide, that “in this country (meaning England) it is good from time to time to execute an admiral, to encourage the others”. Would killing off UNC encourage others to investigate themselves and own up? Doubtful. And if it did, by how much would opportunities for underprivileged youngsters with athletic ability be further diminished?

    A slap on the wrist? That would trigger vast recrimination
    and do little or nothing to change the status quo or the underlying issues.

    Change the system? Let universities recruit athletes, pay them properly, and educate them according to their geuine needs and abilities, during or after their playing days? That would involve a massive shift in sentiment and oblige a lot of people to admit to themselves that the Emperor has no clothes. That is probably what is needed, but is equally probably a step too far for most.

    The problem for the NCAA is that all of the options would most likely end in being a death penalty for the NCAA itself. I suspect there would be few mourners.

    At the end of the day, I do not believe that America will be able to wean itself off storied rivalries, bowl games and March Madness. UNC’s might be the first execution in this affair, but would surely not be the last once secrets are revealed and whistleblowers elsewhere take heart.

    Somehow, a middle way has to be found, free of exploitation and prejudice, offering opportunity for young people with talent whether it is athletic or academic, satisfying public demand, and within which the creation of value is adequately recompensed.

    Can such a solution be found? Answers on a postcard please…

    Once again, thanks Marcia for shedding a powerful light on such an exceedingly dark area.

    Adrian

    Reply
  19. Mark Kinlaw

    I’ve got no issue with your position because there were fraudulent classes without participation from any faculty member and the grades were assigned by a secretary. I do take issue with your implication that easy classes, even entire curriculums, have been created in order to keep low performing student athletes eligible to keep the revenue flowing. Take student athletes out of the picture for a minute. There are plenty of classes, even entire curriculums, offered at most colleges to help regular students that are also low performing. I believe the AFAM department at UNC was created, not to keep student athletes eligible, but to provide an alternative to low performing black “students” that they would find more interesting than Speech Communications.

    Reply
  20. Jeff Donaldson

    Thank you for your willingness to speak up. I graduated from UNC and proudly support all things Carolina Blue. I’m also willing to absorb a beating for misconduct. However, those beatings should be righteously inflicted. So far I see few agents of positive change. “Hot sports takes” are produced by media and consumed by millions without true impact.

    When I see media outlets and college athletics stakeholders turn their attention to you (and those like you), maybe the enterprise will change. Until then … “it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    Having said that, I’ll tip my hat to John Oliver (FIFA World Cup Monologue, 2014) and admit to eager consumption of college athletics – fully aware that the organization(s) behind it are questionable at best.

    Full disclosure: Having never played organized football, I never once thought Coach Shoop’s playcalling should escape my criticism. Running a jet sweet to the short side of the field may have set something up later in the game, but it definitely drove me nuts!

    Reply

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