Rashad McCants says he took sham courses at UNC

Frederick M. Brown

The latest revelation in the UNC academic scandal sees former star hoopster Rashad McCants open up on fake classes, coach Roy Williams and more.

Former North Carolina shooting guard Rashad McCants, a star on the Tar Heels' 2005 championship squad, says he often took sham courses and rarely attended class during his time at the university, according to a report from ESPN's Outside the Lines.

The latest in an ongoing scandal at UNC that's included dozens of revelations, McCants' comments detail the "paper-class" system often used by student-athletes at the school, his own academic issues and apparent knowledge of the situation by legendary head coach Roy Williams.

Many of the claims match previous allegations concerning the school's academic standards for student-athletes, which began with reports from ESPN and the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer a couple years ago. Since then, the details have only piled on.

However, when McCants arrived at UNC back in 2002, he says taking courses designed to pass student-athletes was business as usual. Among these were "paper-classes," or courses that required no attendance and a single term paper in order to pass.

"I thought it was a part of the college experience, just like watching it on a movie from 'He Got Game' or 'Blue Chips,'" McCants said. "... when you get to college, you don't go to class, you don't do nothing, you just show up and play. That's exactly how it was, you know, and I think that was the tradition of college basketball, or college, period, any sport. You're not there to get an education, though they tell you that.

"You're there to make revenue for the college. You're there to put fans in the seats. You're there to bring prestige to the university by winning games."

McCants says he was directed towards taking "paper-classes" in African-American studies while at the university and, according to documents obtained by ESPN, the former hoopster's grades were significantly better in those courses than others.

This matches previous claims from other former athletes and anonymous sources, many of whom detailed similar experiences with sham classes at UNC.

Now 29 years old, McCants even says his NCAA eligibility came into question at one point before the university provided assistance, placing him into courses in African-American studies that ensured high grades. He ended up with straight-As, and says coach Williams clearly knew how this system worked.

"I mean, you have to know about the education of your players and ... who's eligible, who's not and ... who goes to this class and missing that class. We had to run sprints for missing classes if we got caught, so you know, they were very aware of what was going on."

The information regarding Williams' knowledge could have interesting implications going forward given the head coach remains in Chapel Hill. While we haven't heard any word from Williams yet concerning the situation, it's the latest mark against one of college sports' top institutions.

Responding to the allegations, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham provided a statement on Thursday:

It is disappointing any time a student is dissatisfied with his or her experience. I welcome the opportunity to speak with Rashad McCants about returning to UNC to continue his academic career -- just as we have welcomed many former student-athletes interested in completing their degrees.

Cunningham also says that UNC hired former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein in January to independently investigate the allegations, which have now covered both the football and basketball programs over a period of several years. The results of that investigation remain undetermined.

McCants, a former first-round NBA draft pick, was originally recruited to Chapel Hill by first-year coach Matt Doherty, who lasted just one year with the school before being replaced by Williams. After a failed NBA career, he's bounced around foreign leagues and the D-League, most recently playing for Uberlândia in Brazil.

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