A quick academic note regarding the University of North Carolina, which is embattled in an athletic academic quagmire, to say the least.
The News & Observer's Dan Kane is reporting a man by the name of Robert Mercer has been removed of his job as athletic advisor. It's a small-but-significant move by the university as it moves forward and tries to clear its name of any wrongdoings from the past re: players and sketchy classes/grades.
Mercer was quietly moved to a new job, outside of athletic advising, as a “special assistant for operations” at a center for undergraduate excellence, for the same salary of $81,900. His former boss, Harold Woodard, who is serving as interim director, said Mercer had done nothing wrong, but that the issues that have welled up from the academic fraud investigation required a search for a “national” leader to run the program.
It's something interesting to watch this UNC academic scandal play its course -- because it's a public university. So any staff changes are eventually transparent. Kane notes Mercer's move "came less than a week after a special faculty report said evidence suggests that academic counselors working under Mercer were steering athletes to classes that were later found to involve little or no classroom time."
The majority of those classes tie into the the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, where many football players and a handful of basketball players -- as well as non student-athletes -- were registered. That department is the ground zero for the academic fraud in question. The former chairman of that department, Julius Nyang'oro, has since left the university.
It's still unclear whether or not any college hoops players under Roy Williams' watch received fraudulent grades or took these ghost classes. Williams has remained emphatic about his program's cleanliness amid the growing speculation and reports.
At this point it seems unlikely UNC basketball will be hit with anything, primarily because a) There is no irrefutable evidence of grade fraud and b) the classes in question were open and taken by an assortment of students at UNC. If any wrongdoing did happen, the NCAA cannot punish the men's hoops program because the players weren't specifically targeted or helped.