Reaction to the the latest academic scandal at North Carolina has been wide ranging and vast.
According to numerous reports, an investigation revealed that the school enrolled thousands of student-athletes in phony classes and gave out bogus grades over nearly a 20-year period.
Jarrett L. Carter, longtime editor and publisher of HBCU Digest, wrote a compelling piece that that tackles the stark differences in how historically black college balance academics and athletics compared to majority white institutions that are often perceived to sacrifice academic pursuits at the expense of black athletes all in the name of pursuing championships and financial gains.
An internal investigation into academic fraud at varying levels at the University of North Carolina reveals that athletes were given paper classes and preferential treatment for the better part of 18 years. It remains to be seen what kind of punishment the NCAA will mete out for the Tar Heels, but the salacious story introduces an interesting discussion on the cross sections of education, business, race and morality – and the Black athletes at the center of it all.
For all of the rhetoric about ineffective leadership, outdated missions and low-resources at HBCUs, there is a guilty pleasure to be had in reading this story of teachers, coaches, boosters, administrators and athletes behaving badly. HBCUs get a lot of things wrong, and usually because the tools and personnel necessary to do things right are hard to come by and nearly impossible to afford.
From historic and contemporary angles of achievement, Black colleges typically don’t give too many free passes on classroom performance. Culture won’t let our professors and administrators simply concede that the business and profile of sports means enough to send an unprepared student out into the world with limited expertise and skill. Ethnic pride won’t allow a professor to allow an athlete to receive unearned access, privilege or credentials, because the professor knows the end result isn’t a raised comfort level on campus, but an undignified career arc that awaits beyond the campus gates.