The news brought a sigh of relief from the North Carolina administration, student body and Tar Heel backers.
It brought a shake of a head in disgust and dismay from a large portion of the rest of the world that is under the NCAA rules umbrella.
The long-anticipated decision on what seemed to be a clear-cut case of academic fraud over a time span of several years by numerous North Carolina athletes resulted in no major sanctions against the Tar Heels.
The primary reason cited by the NCAA was that the benefits provided Carolina athletes by courses, which in some instances didn't even require the students to attend classes, was also available to the North Carolina student body.
In the simplest NCAA infraction terms, NC was not guilty of providing ""extra benefits'' to its athletes.
""While student-athletes likely benefited from the so-called "paper'' courses offered by North Carolina, the information available in the record did not establish that the courses were solely created, offered and maintained as an orchestrated effort to benefit student-athletes,'' said Greg Sankey, the head of the NCAA infraction committee and commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.
So let's get this straight.
North Carolina was not penalized because it offered courses, which were the equivalent of the old fashioned ""basket weaving'' offerings at schools with reputations as football factories.
So Carolina skates, as many NCAA members who contend that the organization has two sets of rules--one for elite schools such as North Carolina and one for everyone else--predicted.
Well, here's a dose of reality for North Carolina, which has always had the reputation of a high-standard academic university.
That's now gone. With academic fraud part of the entire system, what is the value of a Carolina degree?[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Maybe the same as a degree as one earned at Trump University?
You can't have it both ways guys. No, Carolina did not provide easy courses just for its athletes. It provided the opportunity for all of its students.
Hmm. Wonder if that happens at Harvard or Northwestern or Stanford or Virginia? Or Notre Dame? Or at Duke?
Is academic fraud an issue at those prestigious academic and athletic universities?
The world of big time college athletics is also a world where perception is often reality. Cheaters are branded as cheaters no matter what they may do to change that reputation.
North Carolina can now go on with its business as a valued member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and the defending national champion in men's college basketball.
It can close the books on an NCAA series of investigations involving hundreds of athletes and dozens of coaches and administrators.
But spare me the academic standard part of the recruiting spiel coming from Carolina coaches. It's meaningless and as worthless as a degree with the name of North Carolina on the diploma.
The NCAA says it can do very little because under the present guidelines the Tar Heels committed no major rules violations.
But the spirit of the law was broken. Carolina athletes took phantom courses over a period of years and earned credits which kept them eligible.
While the NCAA shouldn't penalize current athletes who had nothing to do with the past events, it can and should penalize the school for what it did and what it tolerated.
And the best way to do this is financial. Let's say that North Carolina is paid in the vicinity of between $22 to $25 million dollars by the ACC as part of its revenue package. So let's hit the school where it will have a bit of sting.
Let's say that for the next 5 years, Carolina's share is reduced to a maximum total of $15 million per year. Let Carolina officials deal with that as a penalty for what happened.
But that is not the world we live in. The case is now closed and we will move on until the next scandal hits--which in the case of college basketball appears to now be in the active stage.
For now, all we can do is point out that a value of a North Carolina degree is no longer as prestigious as it once was.[/membership]