Gregg Doyel first got my attention when he was a punk sports writer for the Charlotte Observer, obviously trying to make a name for himself.

At the time, he wrote a story claiming the problems surrounding UNC’s basketball program in the early 2000s were all Dean Smith’s fault. Smith had been retired for five years but Doyel insisted Smith was still behind the scenes pulling the strings like some puppeteer.

As with numerous columns he has written since as the loosest cannon at, Doyel was dead wrong. In fact, Smith had just about wiped his hands of his former program after Chancellor James Moeser foolishly vetoed the hiring of Larry Brown in 2000.

Carolina’s brief basketball swoon was on Matt Doherty, the coach Moeser did approve, who of course lasted three years before getting fired, which allowed Roy Williams a second chance to come back and return the Tar Heels to national prominence.

When the UNC football scandal broke in the summer of 2010, Doyel jumped in with both feet, calling Butch Davis something like the “turd in the punch bowl.” His opinion that Davis had to go, if not his characterization, turned out to be true after UNC decided its reputation was more important than keeping Davis. As you know, I agreed with that move.

Doyel (who went to Florida) says he is hesitant to talk trash about Carolina because his sister went here and lives near here. And he likes Roy Williams, one of the few coaches left who gives Doyel the time of day. Yet, after admitting that he only got interested in the academic side of the case upon seeing the alleged Julius Peppers transcript, Doyel did what he often does – take the easy way out with lazy, inflammatory journalism.

Even for his standards, Doyel’s latest tirade is pretty unconscionable and fits what he was hired to do during the Wild West days of the Internet – just throw stuff out there and see if it sticks. He took the Peppers transcript story, jumped to a mile-wide conclusion and predicted both Carolina football and basketball are “going down.” Doyel backs up little of what he says, using the News & Observer reports to form his own absurd opinions.

Who at CBS Sports allows such irresponsible writing?

Doyel then went on a Charlotte radio show Wednesday morning and said he thinks the only two schools in the country offering African Studies majors are Kansas and Carolina and the common thread is Williams. Ah, wrong again, Greggie. The number is 93, including Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard and Yale, Cal-Berkeley, Michigan and Virginia 

I’ve seen the supposed Peppers transcript. If it is indeed his, all it shows is that Peppers did poorly during his (red-shirt) freshman year (1998-99), which is hardly unique for under-qualified athletes. Obviously, he had to get his grades up in summer school to play in 1999, but there is no evidence that Peppers did it by cheating or being given grades in any course.

Other than that, a copy of Peppers’ transcript at one moment in time means nothing, for these reasons:

  • So what that Peppers was an AFAM major or took AFAM courses – what does that prove?
  • Afro-African American Studies has been taught at UNC for more than 15 years, with no improprieties uncovered before 2007.
  • Athletes have been taking the same courses at UNC (and other schools) forever. In fact, most students look for easier or “crip” courses and sign up for them with their friends. Didn’t you?

Despite what else comes out from a period when Carolina earned an NCAA probation, vacated 16 victories, lost 15 scholarships plus a bowl game and changed football coaches twice, most of the athletes who haven’t been implicated do the work, finish the class and get a grade. There is nothing to suggest otherwise.

If you don’t like the fact that some of them are admitted as academic exceptions, are steered toward easier courses and need help from tutors and sympathetic professors, blame the escalation of big-time college athletics into a money-driven enterprise. It is not exclusive to Carolina, not by a long shot.

Reluctant to respond, hiding behind privacy laws, or whatever, UNC needs to stand up and set the record straight about what Tar Heel athletes are supposed to be doing, and what most of them do. Or this is going to spin out of control to the point where more dirt bags like Doyel can claim on national websites that this is “maybe the ugliest academic scandal in NCAA history.”

Puh-lease. Worse than the Minnesota and Georgia basketball scandals and the Florida State football final exam scandal?

It’s the job of media like the News & Observer to investigate such stories, publish the facts they find and ask further questions. It’s not Gregg Doyel’s job to defame an entire athletic department over a few guilty parties for a nebulous period of time without any substantiation whatsoever.

“UNC football — and probably basketball — is going down,” Doyel wrote in his column. “For starters, there are some banners at the Smith Center that need to come down.”

Don’t think so. In fact, if his editors at ever wise up, Doyel is the one who needs to go down for writing such drivel.