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Reading Now Optional in UNC Investigation?

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A week ago I wrote about Sports Illustrated’s misrepresentation of facts in the UNC football case. Today, however, it’s clear that it’s been not only media and message boards neglecting facts, but the school itself. Former Tar Heel player Michael McAdoo is seeking an injunction against the school and the NCAA to be allowed to play, but in court documents submitted for the case appears one of McAdoo’s papers that was blatantly plagiarized. As first discovered on rival message boards and reported yesterday on SportsByBrooks (who outlines several of the examples of plagiarism), the 18-page paper is littered with lifted material taken from various sources. A quick glance reveals the paper is not the work of a college student. The paper is the one that the UNC Honor Court deemed academic fraud, but that alone does not absolve the university of gross negligence.

Throughout the process and even in the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations the degree to which Mr. McAdoo cheated has been severely underplayed. The violation as reported in the NOA was “composing and typing citations and a works-cited page.” In reality, this was only the cherry on the academic fraud sundae that was the paper.

Mr. McAdoo sent this paper to a tutor, albeit an improper one, had an official tutor (who may or may not have reviewed this paper as he sought help from Ms. Wiley), submitted this paper to a professor, had it reviewed by the UNC honor court, the UNC Athletic Department, his lawyers, the NCAA and who knows who else and no one, not a single soul thought this paper seemed off? Inexcusable. The second any of them read, “The Spartan northern Somali coast eventually breaks into the more lush Benadir coast along which towns like… …just beyond the frontier with modern Kenya lies the Lamu Archipelago, three small, sand islands whose creeks act as beds for huge crops of mangrove poles” a flag should have been raised. That’s not the writing of a young college student.  And yet Athletic Director Dick Baddour, on behalf of the University, wrote the NCAA to report McAdoo’s violations and stated, “Additionally, Mr. McAdoo has been withheld from four dates of competition, resulting in a 33% withholding condition for the academic fraud violation in which he unknowingly participated.”

That Mr. Baddour would defend a student-athlete in such a manner must raise the question if anyone in the athletic department took the time to read the actual document, because such a defense is an embarrassment to a school that prides itself on academics. In fact, it must be asked did anyone during the course of the investigation actually take time to read this paper? Would his lawyers have been so eager to argue on behalf of a young man who still has not come clean on this matter? Many of the allegations that have been levied are aimed at specific people and not at the University proper. This, however, calls into question the integrity and ability of professors, administrators, the Honor Court, even alumni and current students.

The Honor Court’s findings of only one instance of academic fraud was intended to be the primary focus of Mr. McAdoo’s impeding lawsuit, but now the Honor Court should instead stand trial. Their inability or unwillingness to discover such egregious cheating must be accounted for. If this were a school known for its football prowess and their honor court conducted itself in this manner, we would crow about them covering for a player. That’s exactly what UNC’s rival fans will say in this case, and there can be no retort. Similarly, one must wonder if in digging through page after page of NCAA and UNC correspondence and other documents pertinent to the case, if Mr. McAdoo’s own attorneys failed to look at the primary document.

People often ask why I defend Butch Davis so hardily and no more perfect example exists than this one. This represents not the failings of a coach or any individual, but the institution. The school administration as a whole failed. The University of North Carolina waded into the deep seas of big time college football with floaties on and was completely unprepared. A year ago sirens rang throughout the athletic department; today, the Bell Tower should be sounding the alarm to the entire school.

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