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.