Bradley Davis, 23 Sports

By now you have probably heard of the harsh punishment levied by the NCAA against the University of Missouri. In short, They found the Mizzou guilty of academic misconduct in relation to the interactions between tutor Yolanda Kumar and 12 student athletes. Along with a one year postseason ban for the football, baseball, and softball programs, each team also lost 5% of their scholarships, vacation of all records during games the 12 athletes participated in, and recruiting restrictions for the upcoming year.

Missouri’s athletic director Jim Sterk cited his surprise and disappointment in the ruling, and when you begin to look at the NCAA’s track record in these kind of cases it is easy to see why. One case that stands out in particular is the academic misconduct investigation into the University of North Carolina.

In 2010, it was discovered that for 18 years UNC had offered 200 independent studies courses through the African and Afro-American studies department (AFAM) that had multiple academic and ethical issues such as unauthorized grade changes, faculty signatures, and an overrepresentation of student athletes enrolled in these classes than in other departments. In 2014, the university was slapped with a year of academic probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to punish them for these practices.

Then the NCAA opened up an investigation of their own into infractions. Due to the severity and degree of academic dishonesty that took place, most were expecting heavy punishments, however on October 13, 2017, the NCAA announced they could not conclude UNC violated any rules, and therefore would not be handing down punishment. (It should be mentioned that UNC did receive a football postseason ban in 2012, but on completely separate allegations of academic misconduct not related to AFAM.)

No wins vacated, no scholarships taken away, no postseason bans. A clean slate. Their reasoning? UNC’s failure to monitor the academics of both student athletes and regular students alike somehow made it less egregious of an offense. In other words, student athletes weren’t the only ones benefiting from the university’s malpractices, therefore it was not the problem of the NCAA. This may be true, but as was noted earlier a very large number of student athletes were enrolled in these AFAM courses compared to other departments, showing the university was clearly using it as a way to help their athletes pass. But to the NCAA this fact remained irrelevant.

Another reason the NCAA cited was UNC’s decision to stick to their guns. UNC constantly reported that despite committing academic fraud, the courses through the AFAM were legitimate. If it seems paradoxical that UNC can claim to be hosting legitimate courses while also admitting to academic fraud, you are not the only one. However the NCAA essentially claimed they were forced to take UNC’s word for it as they did not have enough records to prove the courses did not meet their assignment level.

Through this case it can be seen just how flawed NCAA’s system really is. They could not get out of their own way to punish UNC for practicing academic misconduct on a grand scale for nearly two decades, yet levied large reprimands against Mizzou for the actions of a single tutor. The most frustrating part is if Mizzou had allowed non-athletes to cheat in their classes along with the 12 student athletes and then denied there being any infractions like UNC rather than cooperating fully, they would have been in violation of NCAA rules and likely would have gone unpunished. So lesson learned, NCAA: Let the campus-wide cheating begin.