I recently listened to a very fine book – A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving. Irving’s signature opus was his 1978, The World According To Garp. That phrase bounced around inside my head as I seized the Good Sports’ mic last Saturday for my weekly 60-Second Sound-Off.
Irving’s T.S. Garp was, like those 8,000,000,000 Chinese, disinterested in the on-going frustration of UNCCH trying to balance Ivy Academics with Big Time Athletics. The taciturn Dick Crum was, however, in the thick of that delicate balancing act during the 1980s.
Crum’s classic summation of that frustration echoes across the decades to describe UNC’s current brouhaha….
…. and Oklahoma on Saturday.”
Our pre-game show was already assured of “best-ever” consideration prior to my Sound-Off. Our guests were none-other that The Fabulous Comparato Twins – Nicole & Paige – former UNC celebrity coeds now “firsties” at Univ Miami Law School. The “Fabs” discoursed on the upcoming UNC v Miami contest (ouch!) AND their plight as UNCCH expatriats targeted for ridicule on an ACC rival campus.
The juicy particulars of Ken’s Report have reached way-down yonder to Coral Gables. A quick review by Miami Law admissions showed that neither Nicole’s nor Paige‘s exemplary transcripts was sullied by any AfAm Crowderization.
With their lead I waded in…..
Despite The So-Called Greatest Academic Scandal Ever on Planet Earth, the Univ of North Carolina does not HAVE TO change a thing about how it operates on a daily basis. The necessary changes occurred before Ken Wainstein had billed his first $950/hour.
The main cast ‘o characters in the Crowder Nyang’oro Scheme have been purged from the university – Deborah Crowder, Julius Nyang’oro, Burgess McSwain. Wayne Walden, John Blanchard, Dickie Baddour, Holden Thorp, Butch Davis, Jan Boxhill, assorted academic support staff all gone via one means or another. A handful of minor co-conspirators linger awaiting, we’ve been assured, unspecified punitive actions.
OK, a coupla HoF basketball coaches have donned Sgt. Schultz helmets and are muttering:
“Huh… whaaaa…. I didn’t know nuthin ‘bout no bogus grades. Wayne Walden and Jan Boxhill are among the most ethical people I’ve ever known…..” Whoa Nellie!
…. I’ve known several of the same people Roy and Sylvia have known. I’m pretty sure their ethical compasses are a bit less situationally fragile than Walden’s and Boxhill’s. Now, if the fate of UNC Basketball hung in the balance would they, too, “blink”? I can’t say.
Standard Provostian checks & balances will assure that a paper class scheme will not be perpetrated at UNC again. That specific academic demon has been exorcised.
Other than awaiting a hob-nailed boot to fall from the NCAA, UNC is back to business. When that hob-nailed boot falls is anybody’s guess. Not even the most naïve expect “soon”. Expediency is not a word one associates with the NCAA.
“Image” is all-important to many/most in high academia (and in high society). Whether it be proper elbow patches on well-worn tweed jackets or the brand of pipe tobacco one inhales as one contemplates the alliteration in Chaucer’s Wife of Bath tale. What species of ivy should cover brick halls of learning? And titles….. YIKES “titles” are all-important in academia.
Chapel Hill overflows with two kinds of “doctors” – MDs and PhDs. A renowned surgeon buddy of mine describes the difference as “those who save lives” versus “those who shuffle paper”. He places the former a tad higher on the image ladder as do most in the non-academic outside world. In “a college town” it is most IMproper to ask: “Are you a real doctor or a PhD?”
FWIW…. my “real doctor” pal was attending a real doctor convention a week or so ago and received a ration o’ s*** when his real doctor colleagues saw he was from UNCCH. All kinds of Chapel Hill doctors are feeling embattled lately. Damn You Deborah Crowder…. Damn You To Hell Deborah Crowder.
For the many faculty, staff and alumni whose primary concern is UNC’s vaunted Public Ivy self-image, that self-image is still salvageable. (Notice I did not include “fans” in that list. “Fans” have a different Crumsian concern.) Every bad haircut does grow out given time…. so do hard hits to an institutional image. OK, rebuilding an institutional image might take longer than the three days it usually takes a bad haircut.
The academically-centric notwithstanding; there are those with influence within the University who have a strong desire that its Football and Basketball programs be competitive at the highest levels of intercollegiate athletics. Coach Crum’s “they” who are most interested in UNC being like Oklahoma (of the 80s) or Alabama / Florida State by today’s standards. Oklahoma’s “theys” today would also like to be like Oklahoma of the 80s these days.
Allow me to digress a moment….. Is it better to be a UNC / NCSU athletic-centric fan mired in “Get To 6-wins & Get To Shreveport” every Fall – OR – be a South Carolina / VaTech athletic-centric fan with champagne wishes but a PBR quality team?
If UNC or NCSU gets to “any bowl anywhere” its fan goobers will actually gloat. If USC and VaTech end up in “a goofy bowl with a silly name” their goofy goober fans will want coach / AD heads on stakes.. Then there are “the one/both Mississippis” and ECU who dream of “real bowls” but could be reduced to “not really a real bowl”. It’s a rhetorical exercise.
To the Crumsian Paradox: It is SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE to have Ivy League academics AND ACC-upper tier athletics. ….. as Dick Crum admonished Carolina over 30 years ago. The disparity twixt those two objectives gets wider by the day.
Go ahead and bring up Stanford and currently Duke. I dare you. Those rare exceptions prove the rule.
Folks, there is a reason that the Real Ivies – The Private Ivies – Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Little Carol’s vaunted Dartmouth are NOT competitive at the “ESPN talks about you” level.
Back in the old days of the 60-70s, Saturday scoreboard shows always gave you results of Lehigh v Lafayette…. and Brown v Columbia…. and Slippery Rock v Whoever. When’s the last time you heard or read a Lehigh versus Lafayette score? THUD…. KLUNK.
The vast majority of public universities in America operate on an open-admission basis. 13 of the 14 schools in the vaunted SEC are Open Admission public universities. Vanderbilt being the SECs “biscuit boy on the end of the bench” used to inflate the conference’s academic cred.
Carolina is not an Open Admission institution. If it were, it could recruit the level of athlete to be competitive in the ACC WITHOUT resorting to shadowy schemes to (1) admit them and (2) to keep them eligible.
IF Carolina offered a GED on Steroids / General Studies curriculum in its catalogue (like most Big-Time Football schools do), it could tuck its “student-athletes” there. Crowder’s “disadvantaged” youngsters would then learn at UNC what they shoulda learned back in high school but didn’t. When their knees blow up and/or their eligibility expires and they are set adrift, they would be academically far better-off than the nutritionally-empty experience they have been receiving via the Crowder Nyang’oro Scheme.
That in a thumbnail is what my friend Mary Willingham proposed. And why Little Carol went screaming bonkers.
Mention doing THAT to any tweed-jacket-type on Franklin Street. I dare you. They recoil like a Wicked Witch being threatened with a bucket of water….. or a vampire running from a crucifix.
Me…. I’m a sorta-in-the-middle guy. If my alma mater is competitive with what I consider “comparable institutions” I’m OK with that scenario. That afore-mentioned hob-nail boot stomp by the NCAA might mess even that up somewhat.
The Harvard wannabees and the Football/Basketball Juggernaut wannabees are as far apart today as they were in Dick Crum’s today. ….. sigh, sob, sniff.
Unless, of course, someone comes up with a new “scheme” that will allow Roy to recruit against Kentucky….. and Larry to recruit against Florida State. Is someone associated with UNCCH already thinking of a Plan B scheme?