Tom Sorensen

UNC academic scandal amplified attention on shoe mess. Yet, timing was oddly good.

Listen to Larry Fedora and Bubba Cunningham as they field questions about the latest NCAA violations

Fedora and Cunningham address the suspensions of 13 football players for selling shoes during a press conference on Monday, August 6, 2018 at Kenan Stadium in Chapel HIll, N.C.
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Fedora and Cunningham address the suspensions of 13 football players for selling shoes during a press conference on Monday, August 6, 2018 at Kenan Stadium in Chapel HIll, N.C.

North Carolina might be the only football team in the country that will finish the season with more NCAA violations than victories.

The latest Chapel Hill misdeed is a shoe sale. Thirteen North Carolina football players will be suspended for selling their Air Jordans. Everybody that’s shocked the Tar Heels would do this, raise your hand. Everybody that believes pro wrestling is real, raise your hand. Whoa. It’s the same people.

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Of course the NCAA should pay college athletes, but not all athletes. Paying everybody is a business model that will fail. Football and men’s basketball are the sports that sell thousands of tickets and entice alumni to donate thousands of dollars to their school. The NCAA should pay football players and men’s basketball players.

Would paying football players have stopped the Tar Heels from selling their shoes for up to $2,500? I don’t know.

But do you remember what it was like to be a college student? Did any of us have money?

In a video posted on Twitter on Jan 11, 2018, UNC Equipment posted: 'Brand new player exclusive Air Jordan 3 retros for @TarHeelFootball have arrived. #WEAREJORDAN'

I’ve paid less for cars than sporting goods stores paid for those Air Jordans. That shoe money would have provided a nice little boost. Instead of sleeping in the car during freshmen year spring break, we could have stayed at a Florida Marriott.

Who pays $2,500 for shoes? Go to an upscale shoe store or go online. There are shoes that sell for $2,500, many of them athletic shoes – although nobody that pays a few thousand for shoes is going to do anything athletic while wearing them. If you can afford them, and want them, have at it.

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A college athlete selling shoes is understandable. Even the academic scandal at North Carolina was understandable. But that doesn’t make them right. People are looking at North Carolina now the way they’ve looked at other schools rocked by a major scandal, which the academic fraud debacle was.

If North Carolina had been clean, the shoe sale might not have attracted so much attention.

But I do give the Tar Heels credit for their timing.

Pro football exhibitions are starting. Former Carolina Panther receiver Kelvin Benjamin criticized Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. NASCAR CEO Brian France was charged with DWI and criminal possession of a controlled substance. And about 450 miles from Chapel Hill are Urban Meyer and Ohio State and their burgeoning scandal.

For what should be a slow sports week, there’s a lot going on. As is their custom, the Tar Heels contributed.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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