The North Carolina athletic scandal began in 2010. The scandal has been looming six years.
How long is six years? The Carolina Panthers’ first five picks in the 2010 NFL draft were: Jimmy Clausen (second round), Brandon LaFell (third round), Armanti Edwards (third round), Eric Norwood (fourth round) and Greg Hardy (sixth round). So, that long.
What would have happened if, say, five or six years ago the Tar Heels said: “Look, we cheated. We’re guilty, OK? We ran sham classes in the African and Afro-American Studies Dept. We steered athletes there.
“But everybody cheats. OK, Davidson doesn’t, and based on their winning percentage in football and men’s basketball, Wake Forest doesn’t, either. But we did, repeatedly, not for years but for decades.
“Yet we are one of the best public universities in the country, and if you get a degree here, you did something. We have everything but, when it comes to athletics, institutional control. We had a major ethical lapse, and we’re sorry.”
Instead, the Tar Heels have fought the NCAA, and their fate likely will be decided late this summer. If the NCAA imposes major penalties, penalties that will make it rough for North Carolina’s athletic program to successfully compete, what will the Tar Heels do?
Will they say, “All right, OK, you got us, and we have enacted standards that guarantee that this will never happen again?” Or do they say, “We’re not the ones who lack institutional control. Your are. The NCAA is. You don’t even follow your own rules. You want to slap us down? We’ll slap you back. See you in court.”
The summer usually provides a break from sports. This one won’t, at least not in Chapel Hill.