Rashad McCants, the second-leading scorer on the North Carolina basketball team that won the 2004-05 national title, said on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that tutors wrote his term papers, he rarely went to class for about half his time at UNC, and he remained able to play largely because he took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible.
McCants told “Outside the Lines” that he could have been academically ineligible to play during the championship season had he not been provided the assistance. Further, he said head basketball coach Roy Williams knew about the “paper-class” system at UNC. The so-called paper classes didn’t require students to go to class; rather, students were required to submit only one term paper to receive a grade.
McCants, who said it was common for basketball players to major in African-American Studies, said he assumed tutors who wrote papers for athletes were to be expected and he didn’t question it while he attended UNC.
“I thought it was a part of the college experience, just like watching it on a movie from ‘He Got Game’ or ‘Blue Chips,'” McCants said. ” When you get to college, you don’t go to class, you don’t do nothing, you just show up and play. That’s exactly how it was, you know, and I think that was the tradition of college basketball, or college, period, any sport. You’re not there to get an education, though they tell you that.
“You’re there to make revenue for the college. You’re there to put fans in the seats. You’re there to bring prestige to the university by winning games.”
McCants said his first year he did go to class and took several legitimate, core-curriculum courses. But overall, his transcript shows he ended up with more than 50 percent of his courses being AFAM classes.
McCants said he was headed toward ineligibility during the championship season because he had failed algebra and psychology, which accounted for half of his credits, in the fall of 2004. He had two A’s in AFAM classes in addition to the F’s. He said coach Williams informed him of his academic troubles during a meeting ahead of the spring semester.
“There was a slight panic on my part … [he] said, you know, we’re going to be able to figure out how to make it happen, but you need to buckle down on your academics.”
He said Williams told him “We’re going to be able to change a class from, you know, your summer session class and swap it out with the class that you failed, just so the GPA could reflect that you are in good standing.”
McCants ended up in four AFAM classes in the following semester, earning straight A’s. He said he didn’t know what Williams was getting at with the summer school class replacement reference, and he never talked with Williams about it again. The transcripts show he had received one A in an AFAM class in the summer of 2004.
“I remained eligible to finish out and win the championship, his first championship, and everything was peaches and cream,” McCants said.
He said he is sure Williams and the athletic department knew “100 percent” about the paper-class system.
“I mean, you have to know about the education of your players and … who’s eligible, who’s not and … who goes to this class and missing that class. We had to run sprints for missing classes if we got caught, so you know, they were very aware of what was going on.”
McCants left UNC after his third year and played four seasons in the NBA, before moving to play overseas. In the 90-minute “Outside the Lines” interview last month, McCants said he is planning to write a book about his basketball and collegiate experience.
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