Academic Integrity Lost

I guess I just have to get this off my chest… and see how many people de-friend me or drop my blog. For complete openness, yes I received my masters at Duke. And yes, I have always wanted to go to Duke, but not so much for basketball (certainly not football in those days) but for the academic integrity of the school. Our standards are high. Our academic credentials are unquestionable. Education before sports. If you don’t earn it, you don’t get it. There have been many athletes over the years we could not get to come to Duke because our academic standards were higher than they could reach. I am proud of my school, and I am a better person for being part of the Duke family.

I remember what my dad use to always say to my brother and me… especially me… when we would leave the house: “Remember, you are Martins. Act like one.” We knew exactly what he meant… “There is a certain high standard you live by and are identified with. Folks expect you to act honorably. Your actions out there represent all of our family. Do not do anything to bring dishonor on your family.”

Last Friday (Oct 13, 2017) the NCAA announced they could not find anything wrong with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offering students and athletes a course that required no attendance, no tests, only papers. Nothing is wrong with that if you don’t expect much from your students. But here is the difference: For 18 years these courses were offered and secretaries, teachers, tutors did the work for athletes in order to make sure these questionable students remained eligible to play whatever sport UNC offered. The NCAA stated that since these classes were open to all students (even though many students did not know about these courses) they were not in violations of NCAA rules and therefore no sanctions would be applied.

Well the UNC led NCAA may not have found this against the rules… but it would have been before they changed the rules in 2014.

Listen folks, we have to admit that UNC has some very good lawyers who are able to advise the school on how to get around the rules to keep students in danger of failing  eligible to play sports. And it worked this time… they got around 18 years of fraudulent classes designed to allow failing students to get A’s added to their transcripts and therefore remain eligible to play. What made this un-chargeable by the NCAA is that UNC approved these classes as proper classes.

What really bothers me is that I can no longer point to UNC as a school of integrity and honor…. someone in charge (the President, Chancellor, Provost, Trustees) knew about it and approved it, while other department heads, professors, staff and students knew about it but kept quiet. As students and alums of UNC your faculty has taken from you something of vital importance. No it is not your diploma or the prestige of that degree. They have taken from you the ability to truthfully say: “My school, UNC, is a university of integrity and honor. Forever there will be an * by UNC, and that * will signify lack of academic integrity. They robbed all students of academic integrity… and only they can restore it by stepping up, admitting they put sports money before academic integrity and they will accept whatever sanctions that should apply for what the NCAA called the worst infraction ever.

To all my UNC friends, I know you would not and did not take classes like that. I don’t know of anyone who did. I am sorry your school thought so little of their students that they would put you in this awkward situation. 

A PS needs to be added: If this were Duke, I would be writing the very same article except my heart would be broken in a million pieces. 

Grace and Peace

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