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credit: solidprinciples.com

credit: solidprinciples.com

Captain Louie Renault is a character in the Humphrey Bogart classic “Casablanca.” Just as he is proclaiming himself “shocked—shocked!” to discover gambling at Rick’s—Bogart’s—place, one of Rick’s waiters hands him a wad of cash, his gambling winnings, cementing Renault’s place as the eternal arbiter of hypocrisy and faux outrage.

So this month’s Louie Renault Award goes to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an august bastion of higher learning that was recently shocked—shocked! to discover that college athletes were given fake classes and grades to maintain their eligibility to play—for 18 years. 

More than 3,000 students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received credit for fake classes over an 18-year period as part of a program that allowed many of them to remain eligible to play sports, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The investigation by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein is the latest of several attempts to unravel allegations of academic fraud involving student-athletes at a university known for both its academic rigor and athletics.

‘This is a very complex organization that needed oversight at every step of the way, and it didn’t exist,’ Wainstein said at a news conference following the report’s release. ‘It’s pretty shocking that it didn’t exist.

It’s shocking—shocking! Who coulda thunk it?

The report does not incriminate any coaches or athletic administrators in the scheme, which it said was carried out by a former department head and former office administrator within the African and Afro-American Studies department.

Well of course no coaches or athletic administrators would be involved. Their only concern is for the ethical purity of higher education and sport. They would never so much as think of doing anything unethical just so people who shouldn’t be in college in the first place could continue to rake in cash for the University. That’s what makes this so, so, well, shocking:

The ‘irregular classes’ at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1993 to 2011 had no class attendance or faculty involvement, according to Wainstein’s independent investigation.

Student-athletes accounted for nearly half of enrollments in the irregular classes, the report found. Among the non-athletes, many were struggling students who were referred through academic support services.

Many of them were directed to the courses by counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, the report said, with some counselors going so far as to provide rosters of athletes and the grades they needed to maintain eligibility.

Various personnel at the school were aware of red flags, yet did not ask questions, the report said.

For those coming to this continuing scandal late, a few heads have already rolled: 

UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement that Julius Nyang’oro, who headed the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, has resigned as the university looks at ‘possible irregularities with courses that included undergraduate students.

I’m sure the University brass were absolutely ruthless in rooting out any irregularities, anything that would in any way sully the academic reputation and honor of the institution, anything that…what’s that? Oh…

Mr. Wainstein has found that the wrongdoing at Carolina lasted much longer and affected more students than previously known,’ UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement.

‘The bad actions of a few and the inaction of others failed the University’s students, faculty and alumni, and undermined the institution as a whole.

‘This conduct could and should have been stopped much earlier by individuals in positions of influence and oversight, and others could have sounded the alarm more forcefully.

Forgive me, please, gentle readers, if I don’t shed too many tears for the sacred academic honor of UNC and higher education as a whole. Any pretense at placing learning at the top of the mission flow chart has been exposed as farce years ago in a huge number of institutions of “higher learning.” Once a university places “diversity” and “studies” programs over actual academics, once it begins to admit essentially anyone that has the cash or can qualify for a federal college loan, once it establishes remedial programs that are little more than extended versions of high school because the people it admits simply don’t have the intellect or skills necessary to do genuine college level work, once it has more administrators than professors, there is no room to complain about the inevitable consequences of the University’s self-destruction. There is certainly no room to pretend outrage about athletic cheating.

Special privileges and treatment for so-called “student athletes” has been an open secret for more decades than can easily be counted. Anyone surprised that “kids” recruited for their abilities to handle balls rather than books are allowed to attend non-existent classes, and/or given grades and credits they don’t deserve and didn’t earn must surely have been living in a cave, waiting for the end of WWII.

On at least one level, however, none of this is a surprise. When we live in a culture where citizens know everything about college and professional (as if there is any real difference) sports, but virtually nothing about political issues and the affairs of the nation and world, can any of this be outrageous? We’re reaping what we’ve sown.  Yeah Team!