The University of North Carolina will continue pursuit of its sixth NCAA men’s basketball championship today when it faces Syracuse in the semi-final round of the tournament, two schools that show you don’t have to be concerned with NCAA regulations to succeed.
This is Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s last hurrah after 37 years of coaching the Orange, forced into retirement by school administrators after the NCAA found the basketball program guilty of academic misconduct, providing extra benefits to players, and ignoring its own drug policy.
“We have a situation where the desire to achieve success on the basketball court overrides the academic integrity,” the NCAA concluded. Boeheim, who was suspended for the first nine games of the season and lost 108 wins from his record that were achieved during the period of the violations, said he had no involvement in his players’ academic affairs, and the school didn’t “cheat” its way into the tournament.
In other words, like Sgt. Schultz of “Hogan’s Heroes” fame, Boehein saw nothing, heard nothing, knew nothing.
North Carolina coach Roy Willians expressed the same level of shock and ignorance over allegations that during an 18-year period, an estimated 3,100 students–47 percent of them athletes–took special African-American Studies courses that guaranteed a good grade if they turned in any form of a research paper. Class attendance and tests weren’t required.
This was highly beneficial to members of the school’s basketball team, ranked No. 1 at the start of this season. Basketball players who took the so-called “paper” courses received an average grade of “B” (3.1 on a 4-point scale), considerably high than their GPAs of 1.91.
Rashad McCants, a former star player who left school early to play professionally, claimed he took phony classes and had tutors prepare his homework when he played for the Tar Heels. Coach Roy Williams, who likes to project the image of a simple Southern country boy, expressed shock and ignorance about such cheating. (If you think Williams doesn’t micromanage every aspect of his players’ lives, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.)
The university dismissed some low-level administrators and instructors in the African-
American Studies program, and the NCAA launched an investigation that lasted almost four years. The NCAA came up with five allegations the school has to respond to, but none involved Williams.
The investigation concluded that because some work had to be turned in to get a grade, no fraud occurred. Instead, they decided there was a lack of institutional control by the athletic department because student-athletes received “impermissible benefits…that were not generally available to the student body.”
The NCAA’s infractions committee will decide later this year what punishment if any it hands out, but nobody at North Carolina seems overly concerned–Williams signed a five-year contract extension recently.
The NCAA has so far done nothing about allegations that prostitutes were provided to basketball players recruited by the University of Louisville. Why would they come down hard on the Tar Heels now or bar Syracuse from the tournament?
BETTING TIME: The semi-finals and championship game of this year’s NCAA tournament are being played at cavernous NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans. Past experience shows teams don’t shoot well in facilities designed for football. Does that make each of the games being played today a good bet to go under the total? Only if you got your money down early.
Based on their performance in road and neutral site games, North Carolina and Syracuse should score about 146 points in their game today; Oklahoma and Villanova, also 146. The Vegas betting line opened at 149 under, and has been bet down to 144 under.
If you’re going to bet the total now, over is probably the better play.