Things are not all well at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill as of late and what was thought to be at the heart of the matter may have just been the tip of the iceberg.
When the NCAA began investigating the University of North Carolina’s football team for possible improper contact with a sports agent, I highly doubt that the parties involved thought they would uncover “possible academic misconduct involving a former tutor and student-athletes on the football team,” as stated by UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour. Especially given the pristine reputation the University has earned over the years.
The real question, in my opinion, is not who did what, but who really is to blame should these allegations be proven true? And let’s please remember, no one has been proven guilty of anything as of the writing of this article.
With the investigation by the NCAA being two-pronged, I think the answer is a two-pronged one as well. Let’s take a look at the possible academic misconduct first, because, in all honesty, this question is the easier of the two to answer.
The allegations of academic impropriety involve a former tutor writing papers for players. Never mind that the tutor in question was employed by UNC head coach Butch Davis at some point, because to be honest, that doesn’t make a bit of difference when discussing who is to blame in these allegations.
If it’s proven that the tutor did in fact write papers for players then there is no doubt that the players who took part in this are the ones to blame. These are young men who should be responsible enough to do their homework, not have someone else do it for them.
Let’s not forget that the first part of the word “student-athlete” is student and if you want to play, you got to pay. These young men are not in grade school anymore where parents do their homework. They are young adults and part of being an adult is responsibility.
When it comes to the possible improper contact with sports agents, the question of who is to blame is a bit more complicated. Is it the players or perhaps the coaches? What about the NCAA or the agents themselves?
The NCAA, for better or worse (and in my opinion, worse) has become an empire with a lot of money as opposed to an organization that looks out for the integrity of student-athletes. And where money is, money tends to go no matter whether it is dirty or clean.
While the majority of sports agents play by the murky rules of the NCAA, there will always be a few bad apples that ruin the harvest. If you had a talent, were scraping by to make ends meet and found someone that wanted to pay you to use your talent to support you and/or your family, could you say no? That’s the extremely difficult and unfair situation these athletes are finding themselves in when confronted by unethical sports agents.
Ultimately, the responsibility falls on both the NCAA and the sports agents in this situation.
The NCAA has got to find a better way to monitor sports agents, come up with some clearer regulations and figure out a way to help these student-athletes that find themselves in these precarious situations. What those ways are would take a very long time to dissect and figure out, but something needs to be done or else we will continue to see the NCAA pointing the finger instead of being part of the solution.
As far as sports agents are concerned, they must be held accountable for morally and ethically upholding the rules that they are to follow. Surely, it’s a highly competitive business but it does not and should not be a crooked one.
At the end of the day, only time will tell what the final decision will be in regards to UNC football and athletics for that matter. As the NCAA continues to dig deeper, let’s all hope for the integrity of the University, that what is at the heart of the matter is a better future for the UNC-Chapel Hill and collegiate athletics as a whole.