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Charleston and the Color of College Sports

The massacre of nine Christian African-Americans on the evening of June 17, 2015 will forever serve as a symbol of American racism unchecked. Sadly, our country has too many of these markers that illustrate the lack of effective policy and policing to address the simmering racist hate against the descendants of African slaves. Rev. Martin L. King, Jr. in his eulogy for the four African-American children killed in the 1963 Birmingham church bombings stated, “[The victims] say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life and the philosophy which produced the murderers.” As a sport business professor, I also ask us to urgently examine, question, and reevaluate our collective role in the empowerment of African Americans in the sport industry. Institutions and structural patterns of sport are unlikely to breed the horrific actions of a Dylann Roof but they do create and nourish very disturbing disparate outcomes. The data clearly and definitively outlines the negative narrative:

  • 94% of college faculty athletics representatives are white
  • In all NCAA divisions, whites hold 91.3% of all head coaching positions
  • In all NCAA divisions, whites hold 92% of the athletic director positions
  • 100% of the College Football Bowl division conference commissioners are white
  • 10.6% of NCAA DI Women’s Basketball head coaches are African-American women
  • 3.7% of NCAA DI Men’s Basketball head coaches are African-American men


The media also plays a very significant part in this systemic masterpiece of exclusion. By feeding the American public a daily stream of negative news stories of African-American athletes and coaching failures, mishaps, and misfortunes, the narrative of the ill-equipped and untrustworthy persona is fostered and baked into our mindsets. Cases in point include the saga of Tiger Woods 2.0 and how black versus white protesters are portrayed at entertainment and sporting events. Fear and implicit bias is born from our observation and interactions of the unfamiliar, so the media concern is very critical to our unification as a country. Anti-racism education describes how the systems work to blind us from injustice and the harmful tentacles of racist activities. Far too often broadcasts characterize white male athlete exploits as individual misdeeds only worthy of limited coverage while black male athlete conduct is portrayed as a pattern and the representation of a shared behavior defect. We need not look any further than the churning of white male head coaches after their lack of achievement at previous organizations while many deserving black males wait patiently for their one opportunity. Will we ever take the lessons of harmony, teamwork, and diversity from the playing fields to the boardrooms? Successful organizations have realized that we learn the most from those we have the least in common with.

So, as the country wails in pain, screams in anger, and prays in hope, I am encouraged that more Americans will become courageous and leave the comfortable chamber of silence. Yes, symbolism matters, and the Confederate flag removal deliberation spurns more critical conversations. However, poor results exist in the world of opportunity, access, and inclusion for people of color because most American institutions were not built to embolden everyone. And as programmed, those in power do not question and address the “beam in [thine] own eye.” (Matthew 7:5) In particular, the college sport system is so beholden to tradition and its ever-increasing economic power that the shift to embrace and encourage many new faces to leadership roles can be shocking. This paralysis is expressed in comments such as “there aren’t enough candidates” and “it takes time because the jobs aren’t available.” As polite and genteel the explanations may appear, the origin is similar to the xenophobic mindset of someone who is afraid that “…you are taking over the country.” Black bodies running, throwing, and jumping must be restricted to the turf, courts, and fields.

The nation mourns the tragic occurrence of the Charleston Massacre, but the alarming act is not surprising based on our country’s previous attempts to address racism, foster respect, and promote love. Until all Americans learn the real history of our country; question, discuss, and debate policy reform; address the lack of inclusion; and establish a new paradigm and structures of empowerment; the shooter(s) will continue to live amongst us – in the press room, coaches’ suites, and corner offices.


How Do We Measure the Value of a Basketball Coach?

Sadly, the UNC administration has chosen to reward the flawed leadership of basketball coach Roy Williams with a new contract.

Let’s address the values expressed by this contract in a university whose mission is to advance scholarship, research, and creativity. There are seven performance bonuses in the contract.

In this UNC world where college sports are actually professional sports it is fair to note the monetary values assigned to these bonuses. In the same way that LeBron James earns more than his teammate, former Carolina player Brendan Haywood, or a Lexus costs more than a Corolla, it is important to look at what is relative value in this new contract.

The highest bonus, a quarter of a million dollars, goes to Coach Williams if his players win the NCAA title. There is no mention, by the way, of financial rewards for these players. He amasses bonuses of $200,000 if his teams reach the Final Four or even the Elite 8. Winning even one game in the tournament is good for $100,000 and simply earning a spot in the field reaps a cool $25,000.

What, you might ask, is the value assigned to academic performance?

The Academic Progress Rate or APR is a quirky measure fabricated by the NCAA which basically tracks eligibility, a tiny step on the long path to a real education. The APR reflects the fact that the NCAA and Big Time college sports and the UNC scandal are driven by keeping players eligible, not by providing the opportunity for an education. Even with such a low bar as an educational measure, an acceptable APR is worth only $75,000, less in bonuses to Roy Williams than is making the NCAA tournament.

In a professional sports league, the bonus structure makes sense; in a university committed to scholarship, research and creativity, it does not. From an economic perspective, UNC has made it clear how it values academics for its Big Time Sports behemoth.

This is from The Commentators as heard on WCHL. You can listen to this and more here.


Chansky: UNC ‘Happy’ with Notice of Allegations

UNC received its long-awaited Notice of Allegations from the NCAA Friday, and all indications are that Carolina is “happy” with what that NOA says.

Sources close to the situation say that the football and men’s basketball programs escaped allegations that would lead to the vacating of victories and (in basketball’s case) a national championship looking back and has not been charged with any violations that would result in a post-season ban and loss of scholarships moving forward.

Apparently, the strongest allegations point toward the university for “lack of institutional control,” which is the NCAA’s most egregious charge. Usually, that comes along with alleged violations against certain athletic teams, coaches and/or athletes. But, in this case, the NCAA adhered to its historical precedent of not judging how a university offers and teaches its academic curricula.

Unknown at this time is whether any UNC Olympic sports program has been charged with any violations.

In football and men’s basketball, at least, no specific cheating was uncovered by any athletes, which could have led to violations. The AFAM scandal revolved around what UNC calls “irregular” classes taught and graded by retired Administrative Secretary Deborah Crowder with the approval of deposed department chairman Julius Nyang’oro and were taken by 53 percent non-athletes over 18 years.

The official NCAA website says, “It is not our job to ensure educational quality . . . the NCAA did not assume a duty to ensure the quality of the education of student-athletes . . . the NCAA does not have ‘direct, day-to-day, operational control'” over member institutions like UNC.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has said a version of that publicly this spring, perhaps setting the stage for the Notice of Allegations UNC has received.

Carolina will release a version of the Notice of Allegations once it redacts names and information that could violate federal privacy laws.


UNC Receives Notice Of Allegations From NCAA

Details remain scanty at this time, but UNC officials have confirmed the University has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA.

NCAA investigators were on campus following the release of the Wainstein Report last October.

UNC officials have not released details of the letter, including what the exact allegations are. Art Chansky of Chapelboro.com says there are no indications that the football and men’s basketball programs have been charged with specific violations, and that the allegations revolve around a “lack of institutional control,” which could lead to a hefty fine for the university and possibly a probationary period for the entire athletics department.

UNC has 90 days to respond to the notice of allegations, after which the NCAA Committee on Infractions to determine what penalties UNC will receive.

A full statement from UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham is below:

“We take these allegations very seriously, and we will carefully evaluate them to respond within the NCAA’s 90-day deadline. The University will publicly release the NCAA’s notice as soon as possible. The notice is lengthy and must be prepared for public dissemination to ensure we protect privacy rights as required by federal and state law. When that review for redactions is complete, the University will post the notice on the Carolina Commitment website and notify the news media. When we respond to the NCAA’s allegations, we will follow this same release process.

“Consistent with NCAA protocols, the University cannot comment on details of the investigation until it is completed.”


GOPers Like Cruz; Nobody Loves Kentucky: PPP

Two national surveys this week from Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling show Ted Cruz making a move in the race for the GOP presidential nomination – and generally favorable views among Americans for all but one Final Four team. (No, not that one.)

Recent polls of Republican voters showed Scott Walker and Jeb Bush beginning to pull away from the rest of the field – but Cruz leapt into the upper tier after officially announcing his candidacy last week. In the latest PPP survey, Walker still leads with 20 percent of the vote and Bush is still in second with 17 percent, but Cruz is only slightly behind with 16 percent – up from just 5 percent a month ago. (That gain is due mostly to a jump for Cruz among voters who identify as “very conservative”: 33 percent of those voters said they favored Cruz, up from 11 percent last month.) Walker’s 20-percent support is down from 25 percent last month.

Two other potential candidates also poll in double digits: Rand Paul and Ben Carson both earned the support of 10 percent of GOP voters (though that’s a sharp drop for Carson: he was at 18 percent a month ago). Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie and Rick Perry all trail far behind – though Rubio actually has the highest favorability rating of all the candidates, so PPP director Tom Jensen says he may be poised to make a move later this year.

See the results of the GOP survey here.

On a lighter note, PPP also surveyed Americans’ opinions of this year’s Final Four teams, Duke, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Michigan State. In all four cases, only about half of those surveyed had any opinion about the schools one way or the other – but about 30 percent of Americans say they have a positive view of each school. Where they differ is in the negative column: Kentucky turns out to be more disliked than the other three schools (25% to Duke’s 20%, MSU’s 16%, and Wisconsin’s 15%). Jensen says that’s likely a product of Kentucky being such a juggernaut in college basketball this year: everybody likes the underdog.

Tom Jensen spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck on Thursday.


Other results from the survey: Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo are the two most popular Final Four coaches; Facebook is the only social media outlet that more Americans like than dislike; Congress’s approval rating is still only 11 percent; Americans have a slightly more positive attitude toward millionaires than toward billionaires; and Americans generally favor making Puerto Rico the 51st state (by a 42-34 margin, with Democrats strongly in favor and Republicans slightly opposed).

See the results of the survey here.


Duke Legend Talks Final Four

The UNC basketball team fell to Wisconsin in this year’s Sweet 16 – but Duke is still alive, set to face Michigan State on Saturday night in Indianapolis.

It’s the Blue Devils’ sixteenth trip to the Final Four (and Mike Krzyzewski’s twelfth, tying John Wooden’s record). How has the game changed since Duke’s first trip back in 1963? What are the players likely thinking as they get ready for their first appearance on college basketball’s biggest stage? And what are Duke’s chances this year, against high-profile programs like MSU, Wisconsin and Kentucky?

Steve Vacendak is a Duke legend: playing under Vic Bubas in the 1960s, Vacendak led the Blue Devils to two Final Fours and won ACC Player of the Year honors in 1966. He went on to play in the ABA before returning to the college ranks to serve as Duke’s associate athletic director and head coach at Winthrop.

Vacendak spoke Friday with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


Duke and Michigan State tip off at 6:09 Saturday. Kentucky and Wisconsin follow, with tip-off set for approximately 8:49; the winners meet on Monday in the national title game.

(Aaron, who grew up in Spartan country, will be rooting for State and Wisconsin while superstitiously avoiding any and all TV screens.)


UNC Votes for NCAA Autonomy

The five power conferences in the NCAA, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, have voted in favor of autonomy when determining guidelines governing student athletes.

The decision was made at a meeting with university leaders from around the nation. UNC Chancellor Carol Folt says the conference included 80 members, one from each of the 65 universities in the power conferences along with 15 students.

“The most interesting part of the conference was the students. They were incredible,” she says. “They had lots to say about these things. This is the first time students have started to be included in their future and the way we think about it with the regulations from the NCAA.”

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says the vote for autonomy will allow the power conferences to make decisions that will not include smaller conferences.

“Schools in the BCS conferences now have the right to vote about legislation that would affect them only,” he says.

Chancellor Folt says the primary vote was taking steps to protect the student athletes.

“The initial regulations voted in mostly have to do with things like getting students full cost of attendance, a very strong one that says that students couldn’t lose their scholarships based on athletic performance,” she says.

“That’s a very big commitment. We were already very close to that in our own way of dealing with things, but this makes this true across the conferences.”

Cunningham says they will now be able to provide the full cost of attendance to student-athletes through scholarships.

“We have 800 student-athletes. There are about 300 scholarships that we spread over the 800 students,” he says. “The in-state difference is about $4,000, and the out-of-state is about $6,000.”

Cunningham says the transition will not be smooth, but it will be beneficial for student-athletes.

Chapelboro’s Art Chansky says it is important to stay on the student-athlete side of the line that divides them from employees of universities.

“[Universities] are doing this, this, and this, while retaining the college model,” he says. “They want to stay on that side of the amateur line and never get to the point where the government is going to say, ‘you’re paying them too much, they’re employees.’”

Chansky says crossing that line could result in universities losing certain designations.

The chancellor says the next level of conversation will include governing how many hours student-athletes can commit to their sport, as well as looking at standards for admission and ongoing eligibility for student-athletes.


Congressman David Price To Visit WCHL Studios Tuesday

Members of Congress are on a five-week recess, and your Representative, David Price, is taking some of his time to stop by the WCHL Studios and talk about the top issues being debated in Washington.

Congressman Price is a native of eastern Tennessee and made his way to Mars Hill College and UNC, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He also studied at Yale University where he received a Bachelor of Divinity as well as a Ph.D. in Political Science. Congressman Price spent additional time in the classroom as a professor at Duke University in 1987 teaching Political Science and Public Policy.

Now Congressman Price serves North Carolina’s Fourth District and is on the House Appropriations Committee. He serves as the Ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Congressman Price recently announced that North Carolina will receive an added $1.1 million in grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security, compared to last year. That work was done through the Appropriations Committee. He and Wisconsin representative Tom Petri, a Republican, announced a bipartisan NCAA financial transparency bill in the heat of heavy intercollegiate athletics discussions.

Congressman Price will also weigh in on foreign affairs as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues as well as the United States’ recent air strikes on Iraq.

Tune in to the WCHL Afternoon News with Aaron Keck Tuesday when Congressman Price will sit down with Aaron for the entire 4:00 hour to discuss timely topics of local, national, and international importance.


Cunningham Says UNC Working To ‘Move Forward’

Things just have not gotten easier for North Carolina and athletic director Bubba Cunningham.

The school spent another year dealing with off-field issues, from the eligibility of a top basketball player to a long-running academic scandal and now a reopened NCAA investigation. The Tar Heels also failed to win an Atlantic Coast Conference championship in any sport for the first time.

“We’re wrestling with some of the toughest issues you can wrestle with,” Cunningham said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s taxing on the faculty. It’s taxing on the faculty council. It’s taxing on the coaches, on the students in the classroom. It is something that as an institution, we have to figure out how we can move forward.”

UNC finished 14th in the 2013-14 Directors’ Cup standings of the nation’s top overall sports programs, the first time in six years and the fourth time in the competition’s 21 seasons that it failed to make the top 10. Cunningham pointed to ACC expansion and parity as factors in the title-less season.

“It’s not that the sky is falling,” he said, “but you do need to pay attention and see what we can do to improve performance.”

The highlight was women’s tennis finishing as NCAA runner-up, while men’s tennis reached the final eight, women’s basketball came within a game of the Final Four and field hockey reached the national semifinals. Football — led by Cunningham’s first major hire, Larry Fedora — regrouped from a 1-5 start to win a bowl game.

But much of Cunningham’s third season was spent dealing concerns outside the lines.

The school spent much of 2013 investigating violations by NBA prospect P.J. Hairston before deciding not to seek his reinstatement from the NCAA, ending his college career.

Scrutiny of academics for athletes increased in January when a former UNC learning specialist told CNN that the majority of football and basketball players she studied from 2004-12 read at below-grade levels, though three outside researchers later said the data did not support her findings.

The school also hired former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein to investigate the causes of fraud — first found in 2011 — in the formerly named African and Afro-American (AFAM) department featuring classes with significant athlete enrollments and dating to the 1990s.

Then, in June, former basketball player Rashad McCants from the 2005 NCAA championship team told ESPN that tutors wrote papers for him and coach Roy Williams knew he took some of the AFAM classes in question. Weeks later, the NCAA said it was reopening its probe into academic misconduct because new information was available.

“It certainly has taken longer than I anticipated,” Cunningham said. “In 2011 we all thought we had NCAA issues with agents and amateurism. 2012 is really when the academic challenges arose. In 2013 we had a chancellor leave … so we’ve had a year of transition.

“It has been a long time to see similar issues arise. Now we’re all hopeful that this final report that we’re doing (from Wainstein) … will bring closure to it.”

Cunningham and provost James W. Dean Jr. have also spent the past year leading a review of how UNC handles academics for athletes, from the admissions process to academic support programs and NCAA compliance education. It will last into the fall.

Along the way, UNC has put some facility projects to the side while dealing with everything else.

UNC is looking at updates for an aging Fetzer Field, home to the soccer, lacrosse and outdoor track programs. UNC is also mulling upgrades or even a replacement to the Smith Center, the 21,750-seat home to men’s basketball built in 1986. Both are still in planning stages.

“It’s not always going to be perfect,” Cunningham said. “I think what I have tried to bring to the department is a sense of calm, a sense of consistency that we are moving in a positive direction, that we do have a plan in how we can continue to improve and that we’re working together for a common goal: for these students to have an outstanding experience.”


Cong. Price Co-Sponsors NCAA Transparency Bill

WASHINGTON — Two congressmen have introduced a bill to require the NCAA, schools, conferences as well as the College Football Playoff to reveal how much money is flowing through college sports.

David Price

David Price

The Standardization of Collegiate Oversight of Revenues and Expenditures (SCORE) Act would require the NCAA to make public a standardized financial report for itself and release similar information for schools that already report the data to the NCAA. It also would affect conferences and any entity hosting a postseason competition.

U.S. Rep. David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, a Wisconsin Republican, introduced the bill. In a statement Tuesday, Price said it would allow “for the first apples-to-apples comparison” of revenues and spending throughout college sports.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck spoke with Congressman Price Tuesday about the bill.

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