Now the other shoe can finally drop.
After receiving the NCAA’s 59-page notice of allegations two weeks ago, officials at the University of North Carolina finally released it Thursday.
The allegations don’t paint a pretty picture of the state’s flagship university.
The biggest red flag involves a phrase schools being investigated by the NCAA don’t want to see or hear: “lack of institutional control.” That is generally saved for those rogue institutions where the athletic department rules the roost.
North Carolina was different. It always claimed to be doing things by the book and winning national championships. They even coined the term of doing things “The Carolina Way.”
If you say something enough times, eventually everyone starts to believe it to be true. And for the longest time it was a fact; “The Carolina Way” of doing things kept you off the NCAA’s radar and allowed the majority of its sports to be a player on the national stage.
The only drawback didn’t have anything to do with a player or a coach, but rather the rabid fanbase. The members of the Tar Heel nation were quick on the trigger with comments about how those rogue schools shouldn’t breathe the same air with UNC because “The Carolina Way” trumps all.
It was that kind of hubris that resulted in the university’s downfall.
It is one thing for your fans to have that attitude, but when members of the faculty and athletic department start to believe that as well, that leads to trouble.
And it causes people to lose their jobs.
Former football coach Butch Davis, athletic director Dick Baddour and chancellor Holden Thorp are no longer in Chapel Hill after the first go-around with the NCAA. That involved improper benefits to a handful of football players. Once the NCAA started to investigate, it led down the path of tutors writing papers for athletes.
“The Carolina Way” was a little tarnished and every UNC hater took joy in seeing the school get taken down a peg.
That was just the tip of iceberg as members of the News and Observer staff continued to dig deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole.
This is when it was discovered that several student-athletes were enrolled in African and Afro-American studies “paper classes” at the suggestion of academic counselors. The “classes” were used in order to keep athletes eligible.
Again, not great for “The Carolina Way” of doing things.
But all of this led to a change for the better. Not only for the UNC athletic department, but the university as a whole.
The school is still regarded as one of the best institutions in the country academically and will continue to be so even after the NCAA announces its penalties.
Gene A. Marsh, a former faculty athletic representative at Alabama, said UNC’s reputation will take a small hit, but will bounce back very quickly.
“Carolina will get past this and it’s a great academic institution,” Marsh said to the Associated Press. “Everyone knows that. It doesn’t define the school.”
Reach managing editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.