ESPN Highlights Nick Weiler in its “Big Man on Campus” Series

It goes without saying that if you’re a college student who also happens to kick a game-winning 54-yard field goal to defeat one of the nation’s best teams on the road–you’ll probably receive a fair amount of attention when you get back home.

For UNC kicker Nick Weiler, that has been his reality this week.

The senior helped lift the Tar Heels past No. 12 Florida State on Saturday, putting an end to the nation’s longest home winning streak–22 games–in the process. Coming off the biggest kick of his entire life, ESPN decided to follow Weiler around campus on Monday with a camera crew in order to document the moment.

Asked if he’d ever received this much attention in his entire life, Weiler gave a simple response.

“No,” he said. “Not at all.”

During the video, he also admits to trying to stay away from campus recently so he could avoid the chaos–opting instead to “lay low and hang out with friends.”

It also shows Weiler talking through the kick, going through the team’s sports medicine facility and spending time at home.

All in all, it’s an interesting look behind the scenes of what its like to be a hero at school for a day–a situation some people fear and others can only dream about.

ACC Network Now Official

The long-awaited ACC Network is coming to a television near you in three years and your streaming device much sooner.

The announcement was made official Thursday morning at the Atlantic Coast Conference Kickoff media event being held in Charlotte.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford and ESPN President John Skipper – both UNC graduates – announced the 20-year partnership with the conference the cable-sports giant.

As part of the agreement, more than 600 exclusive live events from across the conference will be made available via a digital live-events channel – “ACC Network Extra” – beginning this August.

A television channel would then launch under the ESPN umbrella in 2019. That network would be home to “450 exclusive live events, including 40 regular-season football games, more than 150 men’s and women’s basketball games, more than 200 other regular-season contests and tournament games from across the conference’s 27-sponsored events,” according to a release. Officials say the network will also include a “component of news and information shows and original programming.”

ESPN President John Skipper:

“We look forward to working with our longtime partners at the ACC to create a network that reflects the depth and quality of its athletes and teams, and serves the fans who passionately support them. We are proud and excited to add the ACC Network to our industry-leading college content offerings.”

ACC Commissioner John Swofford:

“On behalf of the ACC Council of Presidents, Faculty Athletics Representatives and our ACC Television Committee, we are tremendously pleased to further enhance our long-term partnership with ESPN that includes the creation of the ACC Network and ACC Network Extra, and positions the conference for the long-term future. This partnership continues to be a win-win for ESPN and the ACC. ESPN is the premier provider in sports content and this agreement will deliver unprecedented coverage to our fans, while highlighting our quality student-athletes, coaches and institutions.”

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham:

“ESPN is the leader in the distribution of live sports broadcasting and our league’s partnership with the network has been strengthened.  The agreement today extends our rights with ESPN and ensures Carolina’s athletic programs will receive a tremendous amount of exposure across a variety of network platforms for many years to come.  With this agreement, Carolina and the ACC are well positioned for future coverage of our outstanding teams and their successes.”

UNC head football coach Larry Fedora:

“The addition of the ACC Network strengthens our brand and provides another platform to showcase all of our outstanding teams at North Carolina.  ESPN has been a great partner with the ACC for many years and a stand-alone channel demonstrates the network’s continued dedication to our conference.”

ACC Network Announcement Expected at ACC Media Days

Thursday will bring the unofficial beginning of the 2016 football season with the convening of the Atlantic Coast Conference Media Days.

Representatives from all of the ACC members will migrate to Charlotte for the 45th Annual ACC Football Kickoff.

UNC will be represented in the Queen City by coach Larry Fedora, senior wide receiver Ryan Switzer and senior cornerback Des Lawrence.

The media members will also make selections for preseason awards and project the order in which teams will finish in each division as part of the pomp of the gathering.

The biggest news is expected right off the bat early Thursday morning when ACC Commissioner John Swofford is set to deliver his Commissioner’s address. After years of speculation regarding the ACC Network launching with ESPN in some way or another, representatives from the cable sports giant are set to join Swofford at 10 o’clock Thursday morning for an announcement.

The News & Observer reported earlier in the week that the conference and ESPN were closing in on a deal to launch a digital network for 2016 and an ACC cable channel in 2019 as part of a newly negotiated television deal.

The Commissioner’s address is set for 10 o’clock Thursday morning.

Chansky’s Notebook: Nowhere To Hide

Is it my imagination or is there just nowhere to hide?

I am trying to remember if there was ever a time where things in the world seemed so bad, to provide a context for younger people that it will eventually get better. There have always been moments of madness, unthinkable tragedy and insanity running amok, but I can’t recall an era that approaches the peril we now live with every day.

People say it is the 24/7 news cycle and social media that are spreading the bad news so quickly that it only appears more than ever before. I don’t buy that, although I wonder why I can’t escape to my favorite sports website anymore without seeing more mayhem. ESPN is owned by Disney which also owns ABC, so its website has now become a little of everything – maybe to capture and keep more readers?

Four stories down from feel good sports headlines – and before Phil Michelson’s 63 at the British Open – came two articles on the President and a divided America. Pollster Nate Silver headlines ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight with articles about Donald Trump’s least-worst candidate for running mate and a profanity laced story on why the Hip Hop world is turning against  Trump. Was hip hop ever WITH the orange flip mop?

There are so many wonderful sports stories through which to escape, many of them coming from the ESPY Awards show, why even include the dump-truck massacre in NICE? I don’t know who is making decisions on these sports-news websites, but my guess is it’s the wrong move. Sports have always been what we turned to get away from the bad news. And today there is more bad news than ever.

If we want to weep, there are still enough heart-wrenching human interest sports stories like that of slain 15 year old athlete Zaevion Dobson, told brilliantly by a first-person surrogate. Why can’t we leave the rest to CNN and all the hard-core news channels and sites?

Six Tar Heels Make ESPN’s All Time NBA List

Six North Carolina Tar Heels made a list of the all-time top NBA players.

That includes the No. 1 all-time NBA player.

The Top 100 list was compiled by ESPN.  The decision was made by a panel of ESPN’s experts.  Voting was based on peak performance and career value.

UNC and UCLA share the top spot for most players on the list.

Michael Jordan ranked at the top of the list.  Jordan was a six-time NBA champion, five-time NBA, six-time Finals MVP, 14-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA, 9-time All-Defense, 10-time scoring champion, one-time defensive player of the year, and was the rookie of the year in 1984-1985.

Other Tar Heels include James Worthy at No. 43, Bob McAdoo at No. 52, Vince Carter at No. 69, Billy Cunningham at No. 88, and Bobby Jones at No. 96.

The six Tar Heels represent half of the ACC players in the top 100.  Six other players from the rest of the conference make the list.  One Duke Blue Devil is on the list, Grant Hill.  There is also one player from NC State, David Thompson.  Wake Forest gets two players on the list, Tim Duncan and Chris Paul.  There are also two Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Chris Bosh and Mark Price.

After Jordan, the overall top five includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, and Wilt Chamberlain.

See the full list here.

Roy Williams Doesn’t Like ESPN’s Green Room

The green room is a reference to where the top college players gather on draft night, waiting for their name to be called. ESPN, along with other channels broadcasting college basketball games, have used players pro potential to market broadcasts.

In a press conference held Friday afternoon, UNC basketball coach Roy Williams was asked a question about the schedule.

He took that as an opportunity to express his frustration with ESPN frequently mentioning the green room and the NBA during college games.

Hear the full rant below:

Chansky’s Notebook: AARP Taunts Tiger

Will Tiger be retiring after today, finally?

The first round of the Open Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland may have been, all things considered, the worst day of Tiger Woods’ golfing life. He bogeyed the first two holes and went on to shoot a four-over par 76 for 139th place, while the leaders were firing rounds in the mid to high 60s.  And Tiger was playing in the morning before the famous Scottish winds kicked up.

After his round, the worst score he has ever posted the first day of the British Open, he was asked by a reporter about retiring, since he has had one top 25 finish, missed two cuts going on three and withdrew from seven other tournaments this season. He joked that he doesn’t have his AARP card yet, so guess he will keep playing. Then the proper AARP fired out a tweet to Woods, that being over 50 is better than over par. Ouch.

Whatever is ailing woods – his back, his swing, his broken love life – he looks plain awful on the course, chunking wedges and missing half of the wide fairways at St. Andrews. Fortunately, his round began at about 4 a.m. Eastern time and was over before most people turned on the TV or checked the leaderboard for the first time. And to ESPN’s credit, it treated Wood’s play as deserved with an occasional mention and no non-stop coverage of a golf game gone awry.

The chances of Woods making the cut for the weekend are slim and none. He will have to shoot 65 and hope the rest of the field falters en masse. And Tiger will be playing in the worst part of the day, when rain is expected and the wind will be howling in through the afternoon pairings.  He is so bad right now that even the most ardent Tiger hater, and there are millions, might be feeling somewhat sorry for him. After all, he looks like a guy who should retire.

Not only does Woods fail to scare any other golfer, he is even worse than that: an after-thought that is expected to play poorly in the majors because his game has become mediocre. Tiger merely playing used to be worth three or four shots on the rest of the field, because he was so intimidating. Now his play is intolerable.

He’s still more than a year from the senior tour, as well as his AARP card, so what shall he do after turning 40 in December?  Maybe stump for his buddy Trump.

ESPN’s First Take Coming to UNC

The Great Hall, on UNC’s campus, will be hosting ESPN’s First Take for a live broadcast next Tuesday, February 17, the day before the UNC – Duke men’s basketball game at Duke.

Hosts Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith and Cari Champion will be broadcasting live along with Rameses, cheerleaders from UNC, the pep band, and some special guests.

This is a student-only event.

UNC Requests Interview With McCants

Updated 2:53 p.m., July 7, 2014

UNC has reached out to Rashad McCants, according to the News and Observer.

The University’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Compliance and Student-Athlete Development, Vince Ille, confirmed Sunday night that a registered letter was sent to the former UNC basketball standout’s residence on June 6. Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communications Steve Kirschner told WCHL that Ille has since followed up with two text messages. As of Monday afternoon, McCants had not responded.

The letter asks McCants if he will speak with Ille in greater detail about the potential NCAA infractions he says he witnessed while attending UNC.

In an interview that aired June 6, McCants told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that tutors wrote papers for him and he remained eligible only because of “paper classes” that required no attendance – and that his coaches, including head coach Roy Williams, were fully aware of what was going on. He returned to ESPN June 11 with little new information after Williams was interviewed saying he can’t believe what his former player said was taking place.

This request isn’t the first in the investigation of UNC’s academic irregularities. Former Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Homeland Security Advisor, Kenneth Wainstein is conducting an independent external review. He said he reached out to McCants in May requesting an interview. That request was denied, and since McCants’ appearance on ESPN, Wainstein said he has sent another request hoping he is now willing to speak.

The NCAA announced last week that it has reopened its 2011 investigation into the University. In a statement, athletic director Bubba Cunningham said, “the NCAA has determined that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might now be willing to speak with the enforcement staff.”

Willingham Sues UNC, Asks For Reinstatement

Originally posted 11:10 a.m., July 1, 2014

Former UNC academic adviser Mary Willingham says she has filed a civil lawsuit against the University and asked the university system’s governing board to reinstate her.

Willingham is known as the whistle blower who told CNN in January that UNC admitted athletes who were not academically eligible, and that, in turn, the University is unjustly using athletes for financial gains. She says now that the NCAA has decided to return to campus, she doesn’t want it to hand out further punishment, but instead to use the opportunity to “reform the entire system.”

Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs at UNC, Joel Curran said, “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is aware of the lawsuit filed by former employee Mary Willingham. We respect the right of any current or former employee to speak out on important University and national issues. We believe the facts will demonstrate that Ms. Willingham was treated fairly and appropriately while she was employed at Carolina.”

Willingham told WRAL’s Julia Sims that she has asked to be reinstated by the Board of Governors. In early May, she shared on her website that she had resigned from UNC. She first said she made the decision to leave on April 21 after an hour-long meeting with Chancellor Carol Folt. She said the conversation made her realize there was no more she could do at UNC and that she wanted to continue her fight to correct problems with intercollegiate athletics elsewhere.

Now Willingham says she believes “the NCAA will need some serious help from our historians at UNC (since so many years have passed).”

The NCAA told the University Monday that it has reopened its 2011 investigation that led to punishments handed out to the UNC football team. The team was put on probation until 2015, stripped of 15 scholarships over a three-year period, and ineligible for postseason play for one season.

The intercollegiate association says it reopened the investigation because people who were previously unwilling to speak with them may now be available.

One of those people is former UNC basketball standout Rashad McCants. He told ESPN’s Outside the Lines in early June that tutors wrote papers for him, he remained eligible only because of phony “paper classes”, and that his coaches, including Roy Williams, were fully aware of what was going on.

Former assistant attorney general for national security and partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, Kenneth Wainstein was hired by the University in January to conduct an external review of any and all academic irregularities. In an update of his investigation given to the Board of Governors on June 20, Wainstein said McCants previously declined to be interview. He said, since the ESPN interviews, another request for an interview has been sent to McCants in hopes that he’s now willing to speak.

Wainstein has also been able to speak with Julius Nyang’oro, the former chair of the African and Afro-American Studies department and his department administrator, Deborah Crowder in his review. Those individuals were quiet during the NCAA’s initial investigation and all other inquiries until Wainstein arrived on campus.

Willingham told WCHL that she and UNC history professor Jay Smith are filing their manuscript with their publisher Tuesday morning before she travels to Washington, D.C. There she says she plans to lobby for athletic reform with meetings scheduled all day Wednesday. She says she doesn’t have any hearings scheduled in D.C. at this time.

The book Smith and Willingham are collaborating on is about the history of the academic scandal at UNC in the African and Afro-American studies department and the illiteracy problems at UNC and at colleges and universities across the nation.