Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Slave Master Comes to UNC

Folks following the Michael McAdoo lawsuit against the NCAA and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill should read William Rhoden’s book “The Forty Million Dollar Slave”. Rhoden’s book sheds light on a system that reaps amazing reward for keeping young men in bondage.

What happened to McAdoo deserves to be punished. For those not keeping up with the case, McAdoo, a 6-7, 245 pound defensive end, received a permanent ban from college sports last year by the NCAA. On July 1, attorneys for McAdoo filed a lawsuit in Durham County claiming their client was “improperly and unjustly declared ineligible to play intercollegiate athletics by Defendant NCAA.

The NCAA is charged with jumping to judgment void of all the facts. The investigation by the NCAA found McAdoo guilty of accepting $110 in improper benefits and three instances of academic fraud stemming from portions of a paper composed by tutor Jennifer Wiley.

The NCAA failed to investigate the allegations themselves. Instead, they took the UNC Sept 28 and Oct 4 self-reports at face value. No one adjusted the allegations after the UNC Undergraduate Honor Code Court found there wasn’t enough evidence to charge McAdoo with one of the three counts and found him not guilty on another. The NCAA also failed to consider that UNC’s self-report stated McAdoo did not knowingly commit academic fraud.

The Honor Code Court found McAdoo guilty on one count of fraud for allowing Wiley to add citations and composing a works cited page to conform to American Psychological Association style. McAdoo was suspended for one semester.

When declared permanently ineligible the following month, the NCAA cited three counts of fraud. No one from UNC or the NCAA raised issue with the error. No one in the room fought on his behalf. Like a slave on the auction block, McAdoo’s right to play was sold in exchange for UNC’s reputation.

UNC’s attorney’s failed to mention the error. During the appeal hearing, Utah State professor Ken White, chair of the student-athlete reinstatement committee for the NCAA, stated in his opening remarks that all factual disputes had to be resolved before moving forward. Any discrepancies would result in a postponement of the hearing. No one from UNC or the NCAA brought up the factual dispute.

Also at issue is the lack of fairness in the way the NCAA hands out punishments among those who break the Master’s rules. Is one count of academic fraud and receiving 110 bucks enough to suspend an athlete for the remaining two years of eligibility? Keep in mind that McAdoo made good on repaying the money he had received.

Andy Staples column on raised the issue of fairness within the NCAA. “When a tutor provided dozens of Florida State athletes with answers for a test for an online music appreciation course, the NCAA agreed in 2007 to a plea bargain that would force the athletes to miss 30 percent of their next season. Cheating on a test and getting APA style pointers are different animals,” he wrote. “As for the impermissible benefits, the punishment doesn't seem to fit the crime. Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus admitted to receiving $1,787 in impermissible benefits in 2010 and received only a two-game suspension.”

So, you may wonder, why the reference to William Rhoden? Is it over the top to use the analogy of plantation life in reflecting on the state of college athletics? I think not. Not when the boss man holds his whip and collects massive institutional and personal wealth from young studs in exchange for the promise of a college degree. Let’s pull our freaking heads out of the sand and face the truth. Everyone is getting paid at the expense of those who put their bodies at risk.

It appears as an equal exchange-you give us your body and we will give you a place to live, food to eat and a college education. Yeah, it seems like a fair exchange of services and goods until someone gets caught. That’s when the university and the coaches forget the rest of the story and point their finger at the stud. It’s his fault for setting up the system. Problem is he didn’t create the system, the university, coaches, agents and the NCAA created a scheme that keeps players fettered and overwhelmed. That doesn’t absolve athletes for taking advantage of what has been created. It holds others to a level of accountability much higher than the youth prone to make mistakes.

My issue is with the silence of UNC and the NCAA at that hearing. It feels like the university simply decided to play the part to make it all go away. McAdoo, it appears, was no more than a Mandingo stud sold to protect the universities reputation. They watched as the NCAA ruled on his future. They refused to speak up on his behalf. They denied his right to be judged on the facts.

Like a slave on the auction block, McAdoo stood naked before the NCAA. He exposed his limits as the university he pledged to play for allowed his future to go to waste.

Take yo beatin and go to tha shed boy!

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