Academic fraud at North Carolina

The debacle in North Carolina poses a real problem for the NCAA. The North Carolina basketball program is one of the premier brands in college basketball, but the NCAA makes billions with the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA slammed Ohio State and USC over tattoos and improper benefits, but here we have a situation where football players, basketball players and other athletes were funneled though “no show” classes that were a complete farce.

The people involved seem to have connections to basketball coach Roy Williams:

Investigators said they talked once to former UNC academic adviser Mary Willingham, who questioned the literacy level of Tar Heels athletes and said UNC had committed academic misconduct before leaving the job in 2010. A report that men’s basketball coach Roy Williams told Willingham her only job was to keep his players eligible was not verified; Williams said he didn’t believe he had met Willingham, and Willingham, who filed a civil suit against the university in June, did not talk to investigators for a second time to answer that question.

The report listed Wayne Walden — the associate director of ASPSA and academic counselor for a number of sports, including men’s basketball from 2003 to 2009, and who has worked closely with Williams at both Kansas and North Carolina — as one of the counselors who “steered players into these paper classes.” It said Walden and his predecessor, Burgess McSwain, “routinely called Crowder to arrange classes for their players.” The report also said Walden later played a role in the basketball players’ move away from the paper-class system.

The report said Walden acknowledged knowing about irregular aspects of the paper classes, including that Crowder was doing at least some of the grading. It added that, when asked whether he shared this information with former UNC assistant and then director of basketball operations Joe Holladay or Williams, Walden could not recall doing so.

Both coaches told investigators that they never learned from Walden or anyone else that there was a question about faculty involvement in the classes or that Crowder was doing the grading.

“You had them [Williams and Holladay] trying to pull back on independent studies, because they wanted lecture classes. You had them pull back on Afam because he [Williams] didn’t like the clustering,” Wainstein said. “Those are actions that are inconsistent with being complicit or really trying to promote that scheme.”

The last paragraph seems ridiculous. So Walden has a close relationship with Williams and he’s steering players into these classes, but Williams is totally in the dark. If we’re to believe that, the whole arrangement seems intentional. The head coach can’t be sucked into the scheme, so you have to have a designated person who can take the fall. Doesn’t that sound more plausible?

Unfortunately things like this happen everywhere given the farce of college athletics, especially in basketball where everyone knows the best players are making a one-year cameo appearance at the school. The classes are just window dressing.

But the level of fraud at North Carolina, the systematic nature of it, and the denial by Williams he knew anything about it all adds up to a mess that seems impossible to explain away.

But the highlights from the report suggest that the investigators were more than willing to accept the “I didn’t know” or “I don’t remember” defenses when it comes to implicating Williams.

How will the incompetent NCAA react? Who knows? They won’t do anything like the death penalty, but let’s see if they’re willing to punish one of the cash cows helping to drive their basketball revenues.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Apparently the Bears know something about Roy Williams nobody else does

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams watches from the sidelines in the second half of their NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Arlington, Texas January 3, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

“You don’t bring a Roy Williams in here to sit the bench.”

That’s what Bears wide receiver coach Darryl Drake said in this Chicago Tribune article about Johnny Knox and his frustration over being listed behind Williams on the team’s first depth chart of the preseason.

I’d be frustrated too if nonsense like that was spilling out of my coach’s mouth.

You don’t bring a Roy Williams in to sit the bench? Since when did Williams turn into Andre Johnson, Greg Jennings or even Jabar Gaffney? I get what Drake is implying: that Williams is a veteran, has experience playing in Mike Martz’s offense and deserves the respect to see his name atop the depth chart. But are the Bears serious here?

If Cowboy fans ever wondered if Williams could get any slower than he was last year, follow him this year on that patch of dirt the Bears call their home field. This was a guy that struggled mightily trying to gain separation from defenders last season in Dallas, which oh-by-the-way plays half its games on turf. There were also times when he displayed alligator arms and lost focus as his role diminished in the offense.

Granted, the Bears have been vocal about Knox needing to get more aggressive at the line of scrimmage and fighting for the ball when it’s in the air. Plus, he’s going to get opportunities to play because Martz usually roles out three or four receivers in most sets. But the part that is confusing to me is the Bears’ overall thought process. Do they honestly believe that Williams should receive more playing time than Knox? Or that Williams gives them the best chance to win? Knox played in 88.2 percent of the Bears’ offensive plays last year and was easily their best receiver. If the coaching staff believes that Williams is an upgrade, then what in Tom Waddle’s name is going on in the Windy City?

Of course, none of this will probably matter in a couple of months. Once Williams proves that he’s not a reliable full-time starter, Martz and the rest of the Bears coaching staff will wise up and put Knox back in. Because if there’s one thing this Chicago coaching staff knows, its how to manage a receiver corps…

Roy Williams compares himself to Michael Jordan

Grumbling about the number of targets he’s received this season, Cowboys receiver Roy Williams had this to say:

“I just try to play the game,” Williams said. “I just think if Michael Jordan is hot you keep feeding him the ball.”

Roy, I knew Michael Jordan…and you are no Michael Jordan.

In fact, you don’t just feed MJ the ball when he’s hot, you feed him the ball all the time. He was that good.

Considering Williams’ career (and draft position — #7 in 2004), maybe Williams should have said, “I just think if J.R. Smith is hot, you keep feeding him the ball.”

Yeah, that sounds better.

Roy Williams: I’m the most consistent receiver on the Cowboys’ roster

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 10: Wide receiver Roy Williams  of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball against the Tennessee Titans at Cowboys Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Titans won 34-27. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Roy Williams isn’t the type of player to toot his own horn. But when he has the opportunity to tell everyone how good he’s been this season, you best believe he’s going to do it.

While appearing on The Ben and Skin Show on KESN-FM radio in Dallas on Tuesday, Williams had this to say about where he stands with the Cowboys’ organization (from the Dallas Morning News):

“I’m nowhere near trying to toot my own horn because I’m not that type of player, but I’ve been the most consistent wide receiver that we have on this roster. That can go back all the way to OTAs, training camp and during the season. I’m not getting very many opportunities but I’m doing everything that I’m supposed to do. I’m run blocking, lining up, doing things I’m supposed to do, a lot of things that don’t make Sports Center but a lot of things that my coaches see and my teammates see as well.

Williams apparently isn’t the type of player to toot his own horn but he’s going to go ahead and toot it anyway. This comes five days after he cost the Cowboys a win by fumbling late in the fourth quarter against the Saints and setting them up for their game-winning touchdown drive. (Granted, the soft Dallas defense had something to do with the loss too, but nevertheless…)

Even if Williams has been the team’s most consistent receiver this year, you just don’t say things like that when you’ve only caught 32 passes for 469 yards. He does have five touchdowns on the year, but it’s not like defensive coordinators are losing sleep at night worried about how to cover Roy Williams.

He showed some humility after the New Orleans game by owning up to the fumble, then he turns around and tells everyone how good he is. How unfortunate.

Roy Williams says Jon Kitna just as good as Tony Romo

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 25: Quarterback Jon Kitna  of the Dallas Cowboys drops back to pass against the New York Giants in the second quarter at Cowboys Stadium on October 25, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

It’s hard to fault Roy Williams for trying to put a positive spin on a bleak situation. His team fell to 1-5 with their embarrassing loss to the Giants on Monday night and he watched as starting quarterback Tony Romo went down with a serious shoulder injury.

The latest on Romo is that he’ll miss 6-8 weeks, although he won’t need surgery. That means backup Jon Kitna will start for Dallas and according to Williams, the 38-year-old journeyman is just as good as Romo.

From the Detroit Free Press:

“Tony is our starter, but Jon is just as good,” Williams told the Dallas Morning News. “We are going to work this week in practice so we can get the timing down with the receivers. But I have complete faith in him. I have played with him for three years and I know how good he is.”

Although he hasn’t played in over a year, Kitna can be a serviceable starter. He’s a true leader and he demands the best from those around him. He’s not a quiet leader; he wears his emotions on his sleeve and he won’t go down without a fight.

That said, he’s very limited and while Williams was just trying to be positive, Kitna isn’t Romo. He has zero mobility, he folds under pressure and his decision-making during close games comes into question more times than not. This isn’t a guy you want at the helm when you need a big throw late in games and considering how bad the Cowboys’ defense has played the past couple of weeks, this will probably be a team that is trailing more times than not from here on out.

If Wade Phillips’ defense was playing at the top of its game, then the Cowboys might be able to get by with Kitna. But they’ve already put themselves in a 1-5 hole so a rebound at this point appears to be out of the question.

The Cowboys have a huge mess on their hands.

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