North Carolina coach Roy Williams denied allegations of academic wrongdoing Friday by former player Rashad McCants connected to the school’s long-running academic scandal.
In an interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” to air Friday, McCants – the second-leading scorer on Williams’ first NCAA championship team in 2005 – said tutors wrote papers for him and that Williams knew about no-show classes popular with athletes.
“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 also said Williams told him he could swap a failing grade from one class with a passing one from another to stay eligible during the 2004-05 season, according to the report.
He entered the NBA draft as a junior after that season.
“I strongly disagree with what Rashad has said,” Williams said in a statement Friday. “In no way did I know about or do anything close to what he says and I think the players whom I have coached over the years will agree with me.
“I have spent 63 years on this earth trying to do things the right way and the picture he portrays is not fair to the University or me.”
McCants’ comments are the latest allegations levied against UNC in an academic fraud scandal that began as an offshoot of an NCAA investigation into the football program beginning in summer 2010.
Those findings centered on the formerly named Department of African and Afro-American Studies, most notably with lecture classes featuring significant athlete enrollments that did not meet and were instead treated as independent study courses requiring only a research paper at semester’s end.
Former UNC learning specialist Mary Willingham, who has questioned the literacy of Tar Heel athletes, has said “paper classes” were designed to keep players eligible despite many reading at below-grade levels.The fraud findings also unauthorized grade changes and possibly forged signatures on grade rolls.
By 2012, an investigation led by former Gov. Jim Martin found the problems in the AFAM department ran back at least to the late 1990s.
That probe found no evidence of athletics department involvement, though another probe led by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein is underway.