Thanks for the Fraud and the Paint Job, UNC!

untitled (2)For the first time since 2011, the University of North Carolina football team defeated Duke. The score was pretty impressive: 45-20 and I get it; there was a celebration after the victory. You win a big game and you celebrate.

The problem is that the University of North Carolina football team, as part of their celebration, decided to trash Duke’s visiting team locker room and the practice field with blue spray paint. So far the damage exceeds $25,000.

In an article by Steve Wiseman (November 24, 2014) for the Durham Herald-Sun newspaper entitled: “UNC celebration damages Duke locker room,” the writer states:

“Interior and exterior walls in the locker room as well as the carpet were painted. The letters ‘UNC’ were also painted on a wall next to a door entering the facility and elsewhere in the locker room…The paint on the practice field wasn’t discovered until the Blue Devils arrived for a scheduled practice on Sunday night.”

The tradition of the game between these two rivals usually has the winner paint a bell after the victory. It should have ended there, but the exuberance kept on going. UNC is getting stuck with the bill and coach, Larry Fedora and the athletics director Bubba Cunningham, were forced to issue the following (embarrassing) statement:

“We would like to apologize to the Duke Football program and Duke University for some inappropriate actions after last Thursday night’s game in Durham. Our team took the celebrations too far when they were painting the bell, resulting in damage to some of the facilities at Duke.  We take full responsibility for our actions and will be paying for all costs associated with the cleanup.  We view this as a rivalry built on mutual respect and we expect our players to behave better in a way that is more befitting of the rivalry.”

A small issue at the tip of the iceberg

Is this a major sports scandal? Hardly. Trashing the visitor’s locker room is not the same as a sexual assault, wide-scale bullying or uncovering team-wide PED abuse. It is not an athlete beating a child with a stick or assaulting a woman in an elevator. It is not point shaving or stealing or getting into a collision due to drunk or drug driving.

However, it does suggest that the young athletes have not been properly taught about choices, consequences and good ethics.

This is also not UNC’s first dance. The athletic department has most recently been embroiled in academic fraud; of ghost courses and ghost-written papers and meaningless academic credits resulting in empty degrees. It seems almost ludicrous; a university, a place of learning gives rise to athletics, and then the athletic program mocks the very foundation of the university and the young students it has been charged with educating.

The trashing of a locker room indicates to me that the expectations placed on the students for performing ethically as a part of the football program are low. Then again, the academic fraud at UNC was not initiated by student-athletes but by education professionals (including an ETHICS professor!).

UNC’s problems run much deeper than spray paint; iceberg deep.

Last week we wrote a Sports Ethics blog about Michael McAdoo, a former UNC football player who has filed a lawsuit claiming, in essence, that he did not receive an education. He has a point. If the ethical climate within the UNC athletic department had been that poor, how could he have achieved anything approaching a decent education?

Part of the joke

UNC football is a big-time, D-1 football program. They play some of the biggest football powers in the country. Their staff is loaded with all kinds of trainers and therapists.

I have but one simple question: who is teaching the UNC student-athletes, their coaches and the athletic department ethics? I suspect if the athletes and teams have received any kind of training, it was dull, non-engaging and did not make one valid ethical point. They are part of a huge joke.

The training, if it did occur, was window dressing, just like the ghost courses for ghost credits and was meant to be window covering, just like covering a window with a can of cheap spray paint.

A poor ethical foundation will continue to result in more embarrassments like this one.


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