I love the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I attended the university for seven years, learned how to learn, found a fulfilling profession, met my wife of 53 years, made many lifelong friends and have gone back to drink from the Well again and again. My criticisms and suggestions are sincere, heartfelt and painful. Here they are.
Enough is enough. Carolina is suffering from the well-meant but destructive obstruction of many who love it as much as I alumni, leaders, administration officials, kind and very intelligent friends. But the charade must stop. It is time to conduct an all-out investigation of the universitys athletic program and the extent the university and its students have been compromised in a mistaken effort to whitewash a wrongly motivated, misguided and sick system of administration of collegiate athletics.
For two years I have belittled the so-called major infractions of NCAA rules at UNC, believing them an essentially harmless part of the system and the university. The trips seemed new (for us, I hope) but harmless; the fudging on term papers a practice far beyond the athletic program; and plagiarism being what undergraduates do I reasoned. I was wrong on all counts.
In the end, no matter how small or large the actual infractions were, that old nemesis the cover-up is harming the integrity and public perception of our great university. Credibility lies now in minute investigation, full disclosure and career bending or ending sanctions. I would counsel something like the following:
FIRST. The university must admit fully and at length the infractions that have occurred. This would include the actual charges but more importantly lapses in recruiting, training, monitoring, evaluating and disciplining students, faculty and administrators responsible for tutors, student curriculum and counseling, and relationships with athletes. It would include a listing of the African and African-American studies programs (and any programs designed for athletes) course-by-course, and professor-by-professor and participation requirement-by- participation requirement; it might include comparison of good courses and curricula and bad. This must be a minute recitation of things that went wrong and why.
SECOND. The university should boldly address its mission and that of athletics. This should show that athletics are presented to serve the university. The university does not exist to serve, enhance or protect athletics. These recitations will include how athletics serve the university and what is permissible for the university to do to support athletics. These studies should highlight the cover-up and how each component corrupts the others.
THIRD. The development and implementation of any phase of the investigation and recommendations arising therefrom should not be done by any of the persons or departments in governance or administration of UNC Chapel Hill. These should be elevated to the Board of Governors for overall conception, administration and conclusion, including solutions and sanctions. The Board of Governors should determine which university personnel could carry on in other duties during the investigation or be reassigned or relieved for their closeness to the problems from the chancellor down.
In designing, implementing, and evaluating a plan of remediation, the trustees should include advisers from other branches of UNC and other institutions like the University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Harvard, Duke and other peer schools with interests in UNC. They should also include individuals who could present helpful points of view, divergent and hostile and steeped in ethics and morality.
FOURTH. The investigation, study and solutions should automatically and naturally address the role of money as a corrupting influence in the relationship of the university and its athletic programs. We know what is the root of all evil; what we wish to learn is the compatibility of great wealth within athletics with academic integrity; or the place, if any, where whats required to pursue a national championship is incompatible with university values.
I hope this column is a helpful beginning. I have no investment in these ideas except that we must move on with a thorough and honest investigation and disclosure. If we do not do so, we are in danger of continuing and great harm to our Priceless Gem.