The University of North Carolina has long been under investigation and suspicion of funneling their student-athletes to classes that are either fake or improper for a university with high academic standards. This is not news. What is news is that Rashad McCants is not only trying to put the final nail in the coffin the UNC’s athletic program, he’s trying to turn the hammer on the very program and coach that made him a success.
In 2005, the North Carolina Tar Heels took home the national basketball championship by defeating Illinois, which was led by Deron Williams and the electric Dee Brown. McCants averaged 16 points and more than three rebounds per game for the champion Tar Heels that season. After winning it all, he, along with Sean May, Raymond Felton and Marvin Williams, all took their talents to the NBA. May was the headline choice, but McCants was selected quickly after his UNC teammate, taken 14th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
McCants spent the better part of four seasons with the Timberwolves, topping out at 14.6 points per game in his third season. His biggest downfall was that his shooting, something that made him such a threat as a Tar Heel, never progressed in the NBA. Minnesota traded him away in his fourth season to the Sacramento Kings. His production did not wow the Kings in any way and McCants quickly found himself playing in the D-League. He has since been playing overseas and hasn’t been in the NBA since 2009.
Never one to keep it all together, McCants has started pointing the finger at UNC’s academic program, saying that he took fake classes and the “paper classes” — a class that never met and just required one essay to be turned in at the end of the semester — that have gotten Carolina in trouble recently. However, he didn’t stop there. In an interview with ESPN’s Outside the Lines, McCants also stated he feels coach Roy Williams, one of the more well respected and highly success coach in college basketball history, knew about his fake classes.
Former UNC players were quick to come to the defense of their program and their school. In the link provided, current Lakers point guard and former UNC guard Kendall Marshall went as far as to call McCants a clown. Other players in the link provided include John Henson, Dexter Strickland and Wayne Ellington, as well as current UNC wide receiver Ryan Switzer. All of these players are adamant that McCants is making this stuff up and there’s no way Roy knew about the classes he claims to have gotten away with taking.
There’s one problem with this story, however: none of these players that have come to the defense of UNC were around in 2005.
Marshall and Henson were in Carolina up until 2012, when they both entered the NBA Draft. Ellington was part of the 2009 national champion Tar Heels. Strickland finished his last year this past season. McCants was with North Carolina from 2002 (start of his freshman year) until 2005 (end of the junior year before entering the draft).
In a hard-hitting, well received documentary entitled Schooled, which originally aired on HBO last September, North Carolina and their academic scandals are the centerpiece to most of the film. In this documentary, it was found that UNC’s basketball program was, in fact, involved with the paper classes and fake African-American studies classes during their title run in 2005. A few years later, a new academic advisor for the program came in, saw how previous players were dealing with their classes (i.e. taking the paper and fake classes) and immediately took those out of any future scheduling for the athletes.
With this information, we can glean that McCants could, in fact, be telling the truth about taking those types of classes, though the part about Roy Williams knowing and being okay with it is still very much up in the air. This UNC academic scandal first came to light in 2012 thanks to Mary Willingham, who has decided to speak out about what she has seen involving the student-athletes she’s worked with during her time as an academic helper and advisor for the Tar Heel athletes.
So the thing is, we don’t really know if McCants is telling the truth or not. With the track record of UNC’s athletics and academics, he very well may be. It’s an odd thing to have this particular player, with his history of butting heads with Roy Williams, coming forward to just now reveal this information about his time at North Carolina. Some players hold grudges for a number of reasons and try to get money or notoriety from giving up their former head coach. Take, for example, the former basketball manager for Jim Valvano who revealed information about Valvano that led to NCAA violations and Jimmy V. resigning at N.C. State.
There’s really no telling what Rashad McCants’ motivation is behind these allegations, but considering how long UNC’s athletics and academics have been on the radar and the information we’ve had gathered over the past two years, he very well may be telling the truth. However, we do not know if coach Roy Williams was aware of what McCants and other players were doing during their scheduled classes. We must also remember that the players coming to the defense of UNC and Roy were there under a different time for the basketball program’s academics. He was there during the highest rate of corruption, the other players were there during the time they were trying to clean it up.
More and more information about North Carolina’s student-athlete academic problems as we move forward, as it has over the past two years. Rashad has always been a bit of a character and he and his father have never really seen eye-to-eye with Williams. This is really a mysterious and sudden occurrence that sort of came out of nowhere, though we should not be surprised about what McCants is saying since so many others back up his claims about the program as a whole. Who knows what’s real and what’s fake anymore. Just remember to take this information with a grain of salt. Or don’t, that’s really up to you.