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Discredited UNC academic head could shed the most light on scandal

Tom Sorensen
Tom Sorensen has been a columnist at The Observer for more than 20 years and has been at the paper for more than 25, writing about nearly every sport in the Carolinas.

North Carolina has taken so many ethical hits that when I hear a new allegation about the Tar Heels’ athletic program I figure its true.

The most recent allegations come from former North Carolina basketball star Rashad McCants. I spent a little time around him and his coaches. McCants couldn’t have liked himself more if he practiced.

McCants, 29, played three seasons for the Tar Heels and during the 2004-05 season helped them win a national championship. He told ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” that in essence he was an athlete and not a student-athlete. He said he was not compelled to go to class. He said he was in school to sell tickets and win games.

The school vehemently denies his claims.

I have no idea whether McCants’ allegations are true, partly true or a means to attract attention since his work on the court no longer does.

As flashy as his story is, there was much more important news at North Carolina Friday.

Dr. Julius Nyang’oro, the former chairman of the university’s discredited African-American Studies department, has agreed to meet with Kenneth Wainstein.

Wainstein, a former federal Justice Department official, is conducting an independent investigation of North Carolina’s three-year-old academic fraud scandal. According to Nyang’oro’s attorney, he will cooperate fully.

More than McCants and more, in fact, than anybody, Nyang’oro can bring the story into the light. What did he do, why did he do it and who, if anybody, worked with him? How complicit was the school, the athletic program and the coaches?

The meeting should be compelling.

Sorensen: 704-358-5119; tsorensen@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @tomsorensen
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