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Former UNC basketball player McCants says he hasn’t spoken with NCAA

By Andrew Carter
acarter@newsobserver.com

Former UNC player Rashad McCants said in a radio interview Friday that he has not spoken with the NCAA about his allegations of academic misconduct.

McCants spoke out again during an interview on Sirius/XM radio with hosts Mark Packer and Houston Nutt. McCants, one of the players most responsible for leading North Carolina to the 2005 national championship, said a lot of the same things he told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” during a pair of interviews last month.

There were some new revelations, too, though. Among them: McCants said he hasn’t spoken with the NCAA about his allegations – or about anything else, for that matter.

“Not at all,” McCants said during his interview with Packer and Nutt. “I’m still waiting on that. And UNC hasn’t reached out to me, and neither has the NCAA. But we have strategic plans in place to really make some strides and get the awareness out for the people who don’t know anything about what’s really going on.”

It’s unclear who comprises the “we” that McCants described in his interview. McCants made national news when he told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” in an interview that aired last month that tutors wrote his papers and that he relied on no-show African and Afro-American Studies classes to remain eligible during his time at UNC. In danger of becoming academically ineligible, he said took all AFAM classes in the spring of 2005 and did so well he made the dean’s list.

Copies of McCants’ transcript, which “Outside the Lines” obtained, verify his course load.

McCants told ESPN that UNC coach Roy Williams knew about the no-show classes, and that Williams in the fall of 2004 warned him that he could become academically ineligible. Williams denied McCants’ claims and said he had no knowledge of tutors writing papers for his players.

During the interview on Sirius/XM, Packer asked McCants why he chose to come forward now with his allegations. McCants’ answer: “Well, when was there another opportunity to actually talk about the NCAA and academic fraudulence? That wasn’t a topic then. That hasn’t been a topic in the last eight years.”

McCants said he came forward now because the AFAM scandal at UNC created a timely platform to address academic issues that college athletes face. As he has said before, McCants told Packer and Nutt that he hopes to help inspire change.

“The more and more (the UNC AFAM case) unraveled, people reached out to me,” McCants said. “The misconception is people think that I just went forward with this. These people came to me. And I even had reservations before I even said anything, because I knew the backlash and what I was sacrificing. But ultimately, I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel saying you can change lives for the betterment and history of the world.

“And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

McCants said he was “very surprised” by the reaction of his teammates, who have come out in support of Williams and said that McCants’ allegations don’t represent their academic experience at UNC.

“It was my experience,” McCants said during the radio interview, “and I never pinpointed anybody that directly, never said any names, and I only insinuated my thoughts of Roy actually knowing about it.”

McCants told Packer and Nutt that he didn’t have any conversations with anybody about his academic turnaround in the spring of 2005, when he went from struggling in the classroom to the dean’s list. Asked during the interview how many of his teammates relied on no-show AFAM classes, McCants “that’s not really for me to say.”

“Those guys have to speak for themselves,” McCants said. “I’m not here to throw anybody under the bus. I’m not here to do what they’ve done to me. I’m here to save lives, I’m here to change lives for future generations.”

McCants said during the interview that it was “shocking” to him that the academic misconduct case that emerged in the NCAA’s original investigation at UNC didn’t lead to the basketball program. Most of the revelations about the AFAM department – rife unauthorized grade changes and no-show classes, with many of those classes featuring a disproportionate number of athletes – came after the NCAA closed the UNC football violations case in March 2012.

After two years of questions surrounding the problems in AFAM and their relationship to athletics, the NCAA recently decided to reopen its investigation.

McCants during the interview on Sirius/XM said that he and his teammates who won the 2005 national championship “weren’t a tight-knit group” but were successful, anyway, he said, because “we were a very intelligent group of guys who knew what it took to win.”

McCants told Packer and Nutt that he doesn’t anticipate speaking to Williams about the improprieties McCants has alleged. Asked if he thought his account had severed his relationship with Williams, McCants said he never had a relationship with Williams beyond that of a player-coach relationship.

“It looks like the relationship is severed, but there was never really a relationship between me and Roy,” McCants said. “I was the player and he was the coach. It doesn’t mean that every player on every team is friends with their coach.

Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter
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