Tag Archives: UNC

Abolish the NCAA: Carolina edition

By Christopher B. Daly 

As I read his latest column, the NYTimes’ Joe Nocera seems to be edging toward the realization that the NCAA is beyond reform and should be abolished. Today, he tells the story of whistle-blower Mary Willingham, who was hired as a tutor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for intercollegiate athletes.

It did not end well for her.

 

 

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Abolish the NCAA: Shame on UNC, too

By Christopher B. Daly 

Today’s NYTimes greets the new year with a dismaying (though hardly surprising) story about the ways in which the NCAA extends its corrupting reach into college classrooms. It’s an extreme version of a common imagespractice — providing fluff courses for intercollegiate athletes so that they can maintain their student status even while they are spending all their time in training for their schools’ teams (which are nothing more than farm teams for professional leagues).

This story is particularly dismaying because it involves charges of academic abuse that are so egregious that they caught the attention of a criminal prosecutor. Not only that, but the case involves UNC-Chapel Hill, where I went to graduate school in history, which is actually a images-1fine, serious, and improving university. Yes, it is also an NCAA powerhouse in football, basketball, lacrosse, and other sports that fill stadia and attract national TV distribution.

 

Again, I ask: What educational purpose does the NCAA serve?

In my experience, the practice of intercollegiate athletics not only contributes nothing to students who participate, it also detracts from educating young people. The only educational purpose I can imagine is to serve as an object lesson in what not to do in economics, law, and ethics.

 

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History keeps happening: Southern textile factory gets new uses

By Christopher B. Daly

The Loray Mill in its heyday, when it made fabric for the Firestone tire company.

The Loray Mill in its heyday, when it made fabric for the Firestone tire company.

The huge brick textile factory complex in Gastonia, North Carolina, once considered the largest in the world, is about to find a new life as an apartment complex, complete with amenities like restaurants and shops. From the description in today’s New York Times, it looks like the old factory has come a long way from the original life of the Loray Mill, built in stages starting in 1902.

That earlier story is the one told in the book that I co-authored with five fellow historians, Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World. Published in 1987 and reissued in 2000,51gBhqv0KTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX225_SY300_CR,0,0,225,300_SH20_OU01_ Like a Family puts the Loray Mill (see chap. 4), located near Charlotte, into the broader context of Southern industrialization, told largely from the workers’ point of view, based on their own testimony in hundreds of oral history interviews. That work was made possible through the Southern Oral History Program at UNC-Chapel Hill, which continues to do fine work in oral history. The SOHP interviews are mostly on deposit at UNC’s Wilson Library, where they are open to scholars. You can even search for a term like “Gastonia” in the search tool.

That should keep you busy for a while!

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Abolish the NCAA (cont.)

By Christopher B. Daly

Former North Carolina head football coach Butch Davis talks with former defensive tackle Marvin Austin in a file photo. Austin is a key player in investigations involving improper contact with sports agents. JEFF SINER — JEFF SINER - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Former North Carolina head football coach Butch Davis talks with former defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who is a key player in investigations involving improper contact with sports agents.
JEFF SINER — JEFF SINER – jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The latest episode of stupid, destructive results stemming from collegiate involvement in big-time athletics involves the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. This one is particularly painful to me, since I got my master’s degree at UNC in 1982. (Yes, that was the height of the Michael Jordan era in Tarheels hoops, and yes, I was a fan. I had not yet figured out how deeply corrupting the NCAA is.)

In today’s column, the NYT’s Joe Nocera lays out some of the low-lights from the downfall of UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp (what a name!).

Here’s a link to some of the coverage of the UNC mess by the estimable N&O, the News & Observer of nearby Raleigh. You know you’re in trouble when the biggest paper that covers you has to create a standing headline like “UNC Scandal.” The N&O has a story about a recent talk given by Mary Willingham, who once labored in the belly of the athletic beast, helping unprepared athletes navigate their ways to remaining eligible while working nearly full-time as minor-league players for pro sports.

Willingham, who worked as a learning and reading specialist inside UNC’s academic support program for athletes, talked Thursday about her struggle to combat the system. She spoke of NCAA paperwork that arrived annually that required a signature and promise that she hadn’t seen cheating, or been a part of it.

“I’ve got to tell you that most of the time, I scribbled my initials on it,” Willingham said. “So yeah, I lied. I saw it – I saw cheating. I saw it, I knew about it, I was an accomplice to it, I witnessed it. And I was afraid, and silent, for so long.”

Willingham still works at UNC, though not with athletes. She’s an assistant director in the center for student services and academic counseling. Of the 750 to 800 athletes at UNC, she described 150 to 200 of them on Thursday as “seriously underprepared” for the academic rigors of college life at UNC.

During her 20-minute speech, she lambasted the NCAA – calling the organization a “cartel” and describing its academic entrance standards for athletes “a farce.”

And she should know.
What more is there to say? Abolish the NCAA, before it corrupts another fine school. 

 

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