McCants' teammates deny claims; reports show more impropriety

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Was Rashad McCants truly the only UNC basketball player allegedly benefitting from bogus courses? (USATSI)

Rashad McCants is on an island, but he may not be alone.

Every single teammate that played with McCants on the 2004-05 national championship-winning UNC squad has distanced themselves from McCants' claims that UNC's academic/athletic culture was corrupt during his time there.

Sixteen players wrote/signed a statement over the weekend that supported the school and men's hoops coach Roy Williams, and stated they all achieved what they did in the classroom by legitimate means. This comes after Williams issued a statement and plenty of former/current UNC athletes called out McCants for saying what he said to ESPN's Outside the Lines last week.

Here is the statement from the 2004-05 champs, sans McCants.

We are proud of our accomplishments both on and off the floor at UNC. With conviction, each one of us is proud to say that we attended class and did our own academic work. We want to thank our advisers and counselors who supported us, while also maintaining the integrity of the institution. We also want to make it clear that Coach (Roy) Williams and his staff operated with the highest level of ethics and integrity within their respective roles.

We are forever grateful for the lessons we learned on the court, in the classroom and during our time in Chapel Hill. In light of the comments made by Rashad on ESPN Outside the Lines, we want to state that our personal academic experiences are not consistent with Rashad's claims. We know that Coach Williams did not have any knowledge of any academic impropriety, and further that Coach Williams would not have tried to manipulate a player's schedule. Rashad will always be our teammate and we wish him well on all of his future endeavors.

Signed by: Charlie Everett, Raymond Felton, Brooks Foster, Damion Grant, Jesse Holley, C.J. Hooker, Jackie Manuel, Sean May, Wes Miller, David Noel, Byron Sanders, Melvin Scott, Reyshawn Terry, Quentin Thomas, Jawad Williams, Marvin Williams.

But there still is more to the story that must be sorted out.

Because McCants was hardly the only player that took African studies classes. Those are the courses/department that's been found to be fraudulent in many respects, with some classes almost never meeting and others only requiring an end-of-semester paper. In McCants case, he claims he had tutors do his work for him for some courses.

The Raleigh News & Observer's Dan Kane reports -- via information supplied by UNC whistleblower/former athlete tutor Mary Willingham -- that five players on the 2004-05 title team took African studies classes.

Five members of that team, including at least four key players, accounted for a combined 39 enrollments in classes that have been identified as confirmed or suspected lecture classes that never met. The data also show that the five athletes accounted for 13 enrollments that were accurately identified as independent studies. Those classes are also suspect because for much of the last decade, the department offered far more independent studies than it could properly supervise, previous reviews have shown. The revelation of the classes, plus McCants' interview broadcast Friday by ESPN, are the strongest links between the basketball program and the academic scandal that has stretched into its third year.

The floor grade for every player in these courses was a B, and 34 times did players earn A- or higher, per Willingham's information provided to the N&O.


"Willingham said she obtained the data from student enrollment records to which she had access as an adviser," Kane's story reads.

“Not only did we have a paper class system ... but we used that system as a model for eligibility,” Willingham said Friday. “Those were the classes that helped their GPAs so they would stay academically eligible and NCAA eligible.”

While the N&O's information claims five players took possible bogus courses, a 2010 story by the Indianapolis Star uncovered seven players with African & Afro-American Studies majors. The players:

Jackie Manuel
Sean May
David Noel
Melvin Scott
Reyshawn Terry
Quentin Thomas
Jawad Willimas

This pullquote is from the Star's 2010 story, which ran in conjunction with the Final Four that year: "May said he started as a double major with communications, but dropped it so he could graduate faster after leaving for the NBA.Afro-American and African studies, May said, offered 'more independent electives, independent study. I could take a lot of classes during the season. Communications, I had to be there in the actual classroom. We just made sure all the classes I had to take, I could take during the summer.'"

It's not looking for good UNC, or Williams, and although it's plausible to suggest this duplicitous track record wasn't/isn't unique to UNC, it has become anti-exemplar of modern college athletics. So despite refutes from pretty much every basketball player aside from McCants, there's still a load of skepticism -- and now even more investigations -- surrounding the university's past practices.

 
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