Chapel Hill: Opinion

Langston Luck: Don’t punish all for the misdeeds of a few

As a middle school student athlete who takes my classes seriously, I do not want my reputation tarnished by allegations of fake classes like the football players at the University of North Carolina.

The university has been investigating a scandal related to fake “paper” classes offered by the Afro American Studies Department to student athletes. Over 3,000 students took these classes over 18 years. The NCAA has sanctioned the university for these violations but the extent of the violations is even greater than they knew.

Former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein wrote a 131-page report for the university that provides greater detail about the scandal. Instead of sanctioning all UNC athletes and teams in light of these new developments, the NCAA should require progress reports detailing student academic achievement so that the goal of educating student athletes would be met.

Not all student athletes were involved in the scandal, so students should not be punished as a whole; however, requiring student athletes to submit progress reports will benefit them as students. Roughly 3,100 students enrolled in classes that they did not have to show up for. These classes were started by University officials to help struggling athletes. Most athletes involved in the fake classes were members the football and basketball teams. There were many more than 3,100 student athletes during that time period, so the other students should not be punished by school-wide sanctions.

University staff share much of the blame for this scandal as they created the fake classes and directed the student athletes to enroll in these classes. UNC administrator Deborah Crowder created the “paper classes” in which students only had to write one paper and they got a high grade no matter the quality of the paper. She felt she needed to help the struggling athletes and school counselors told athletes to take the classes. “The ‘paper classes’ scheme went on for 18 years and included 188 courses,” it was reported.

One could argue that a violation that lasted almost 20 years and covered over 3,000 students requires a severe sanction against all UNC athletes and teams. In addition, many student athletes will be unhappy with a requirement to provide progress reports as they were not involved in the scandal. However, the university has already been officially sanctioned and the university staff involved no longer work for the university. Chancellor Carol Folt has apologized to students for letting them down by not properly educating them. Focusing on providing the student athletes with appropriate academic support, including a requirement for progress reports that are not too burdensome, would be a better response to the scandal.

In conclusion, instead of implementing sanctions on all UNC athletes and teams, the NCAA should require student athletes to file progress reports detailing student academic achievement so that the goal of educating student athletes would be met.

Langston Luck is an eighth-grade student at Culbreth Middle School. He lives in Chapel Hill.

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