Back on ESPN, McCants responds to Williams, UNC players

acarter@newsobserver.comJune 11, 2014 

  • More information

    Some of UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams’ comments regarding his teams’ academics:

    Statement on May 8, 2012, after no-show classes were first reported by UNC:

    “The players were eligible to be enrolled in those classes, as were non-student-athletes, and they did the work that was assigned to them.”

    To Charlotte radio station WFNZ on Aug. 15, 2012, (as reported by ESPN):

    “No question about it,’’ Williams told “The Drive.” “Our track record is pretty doggone good. And our track record has been pretty doggone good for 15 years at Kansas, nine years at North Carolina. And we know how much we emphasize the academic side in the basketball office. We know what our guys are majoring in. We know – every day we’re in touch with those kids. So it’s something, again, that I’m very proud of.

    “And am I going to sit here and say there is absolutely no way nothing will ever happen? Nothing will ever show up? We don’t know what’s going on every day. I mean, I’ve got 13 to 17 kids, counting the walk-ons and things like that. You don’t know. But boy, I feel really, really good about what’s happened academically in the basketball program since we came.”

    That same day, WRAL reported that in Williams’ opinion academic malfeasance did not reach into the basketball program:

    “It’s a bunch of ... you can fill in the blanks. I feel extremely good, extremely good and if you want to add in any more than that about everything that’s been done academically in the nine years that we’ve been there and anybody that wants to take exception to that can do whatever they please,” said Williams.

    At a news conference Oct. 11, 2012, for the start of the 2012-13 basketball season:

    “You know this is not old news because it’s news everyday, so I’m not trying to belittle it there. But I’ve made so many statements about what I think is going on. We’ve made some mistakes and it’s a sad time but I feel great about what we’ve done academically since the first day I walked (in) here. Not as a student but as a coach.

    “I’ve said thousands of times – no, that’s an exaggeration – but several times that, you know, the investigation has brought up some things that we’re not proud of, that we’re not happy about,” Williams said. “But I think it is a very small problem that we’ve got to take care of, and I think we are doing it. But to answer your question, I’m sort of tired of answering those questions.”

    Asked if the fact that basketball players had stopped enrolling in no-show classes after the summer of 2009 indicated someone in the basketball program saw a problem, Williams said: “You say we either did something or we didn’t do something. Maybe guys, girls, just decided not to take certain classes. Again for me, it’s, I am extremely proud, extremely proud with what we’ve done academically.”

    Compiled by Dan Kane

Rashad McCants, the former North Carolina basketball player who last week alleged a variety of academic misconduct during his time at the university, again criticized his academic experience and defended his accusations during a nationally televised interview Wednesday.

McCants spoke with a sense of defiance on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” – the same program that last week aired an interview in which he said tutors wrote his papers, he went to class half the time and coach Roy Williams knew about no-show courses in the African and Afro-American Studies Department.

During a 23-minute appearance on “Outside the Lines” on Wednesday, McCants expressed disbelief that Williams couldn’t have known about the no-show classes, and he said “there should be some kind of reward for not receiving a proper education.”

“You say, ‘Well, Roy (Williams), you didn’t know about any of these things,’ ” McCants said. “How are you getting paid millions of dollars to be a college coach? How is it that you are not accountable for what your players do off the floor? Those are things that need to be asked.”

After McCants’ first interview aired Friday, his former teammates countered his claims, defended their academic experience and defended Williams, who during an ESPN interview Saturday also either denied McCants’ allegations or denied knowledge of his claims.

During his first interview with ESPN, McCants, who played at UNC from 2002 to ’05, said he faced the possibility of becoming ineligible after he failed two classes in the fall of 2004. At that point, he said he met with Williams.

During that meeting, McCants said Williams told him he’d “figure out” how to solve the academic problems. In the same meeting, McCants told “Outside the Lines” that Williams said, “We’re going to be able to change a class from, you know, your summer session class and swap it out with the class that you failed, just so the GPA could reflect that you are in good standing.”

Williams denied that allegation Saturday, and he said he didn’t “at all” remember such a meeting with McCants. Further, Williams said he didn’t “have any idea what swapping out (a class) would be.”

McCants reacted strongly when asked to respond to Williams’ statement that he didn’t remember meeting with him.

“Maybe he’s getting a little old,” McCants said. “I don’t have any control over what he remembers. All I know is the truth and I’m not up here to lie about anything.”

In a sign of support, several former and current UNC players attended Williams’ interview with ESPN. Sixteen members of the Tar Heels’ 2005 national championship team – every player on the team except McCants, who was that team’s second-leading scorer – released a statement Friday supporting UNC and Williams.

Asked on “Outside the Lines” about his teammates’ statement, McCants said they should prove what they said through the release of their academic records.

“Show your transcripts,” McCants said.

“Outside the Lines” obtained two copies of McCants’ transcript, though neither was an official copy verified by UNC. The transcripts showed he never received a higher grade than a C in any non-AFAM course. He took 18 AFAM courses, according to the transcript, and made 10 A’s, six B’s, one C and one D.

In the spring of 2005, while McCants was helping lead UNC to the national championship and, later, while he was preparing for the NBA draft, he took four no-show AFAM classes and made A’s in all of them. That performance landed him on the dean’s list.

“At first it was a shock to me that I would actually receive the dean’s list because I didn’t go to class,” McCants said.

Andy Katz, the ESPN reporter who conducted the interview Wednesday, asked McCants about timing and why, more than nine years after playing his final game for UNC, he decided to speak out now. McCants said he did so to expose a system he said he knew little about when he arrived in college.

“Right now, it’s about thinking as a 17-year-old at University of North Carolina, how I had no idea about that this was a part of the exploitation of student-athletes,” McCants said. “It’s not about the University of North Carolina’s basketball program, it’s not about me, it’s about the future generations of all student-athletes.”

After McCants’ first interview, Kenneth Wainstein, the former federal prosecutor UNC has hired to investigate problems involving academics and athletics, said he wanted to speak with McCants. Asked about that, McCants seemed confused by the question, and he suggested Wainstein should speak with his teammates.

During his interview Wednesday, McCants wore a white hat backward and a black shirt with bold type that said, “Defend the student-athlete.” He said he has had “no relationship” with Williams since leaving UNC, and he defended himself against the perception that he might have an agenda against Williams and UNC.

“Anybody who knows me knows I’ve always prided myself on realness and truth,” McCants said.

Staff reporter Joe Giglio contributed to this report.

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

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service