Investigations

Two UNC football players talk about academic fraud on HBO, ESPN

Two more football players say in national cable TV reports Tuesday that UNC-Chapel Hill’s tutoring program for athletes steered them to suspect classes to help keep them eligible to play sports.

Deunta Williams, a former defensive back, said he and other football players took no-show classes within the African studies department that were advertised as lecture-style classes but actually never met and only required a paper at the end. Grades were typically good. Bryon Bishop said he was steered to African studies when he showed up at the university because it had plenty of easy classes.

Williams spoke on ESPN’s Outside The Lines program Tuesday afternoon, while Bishop is featured in an HBO Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel report that begins airing Tuesday at 10 p.m. Michael McAdoo, another former UNC football player who previously spoke to The News & Observer and The New York Times about the classes, is also on the HBO report.

Williams has given numerous interviews since he received a four-game suspension during the NCAA’s investigation into improper financial benefits from agents and others nearly four years ago. While he’s been critical of other ways in which athletic demands impeded academic opportunities for athletes, this is the first time he has acknowledged being in the no-show classes.

He told ESPN that the no-shows were a crutch for the tutoring program and for coaches who wanted to keep football players on the field.

“I think the coaches knew enough to understand what was going on,” Williams said. “I think they knew about the system itself, and if a guy was in trouble the immediate response was, ‘Why not put him in a paper class where he can receive help, get an A or a B out of this class for writing a good paper.’”

Bishop graduated with a degree in African studies. He told HBO that he was steered to that major when he entered the university.

He said advisers told him to take the classes because they were easy. “To stay on course for graduation, you need to take these courses,” he recalled them saying.

HBO reports Bishop is working a low-skill job for a drug treatment facility.

“You can’t see the things that’s going on in the system until it’s over with, until it’s too late and I’m pretty much facing that now,” he said.

The HBO report also looks into academic integrity questions at the University of Memphis and Oklahoma University.

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