McCants: So many scared athletes
Posted June 11
Rashad McCants, the former University of North Carolina basketball player who revived the discussion about so-called "paper classes" with an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" last week, returned to the airwaves Wednesday with a rebuttal to his coach and teammates' claims that he was an outlier in getting prohibited academic help. More audio clips: McCants talks academics, athletics with ESPN
"How is it you’re not accountable for the things your players do off the floor?" McCants said he would ask coach Roy Williams.
McCants said Williams and other athletic department representatives "knew 100 percent" that he rarely went to class, took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible and had tutors write his term papers.
In a follow-up interview, Williams, with members of the 2005 championship team sitting just outside the camera's view, said he was in "shock" and "disbelief" about McCants' claims.
Wearing a shirt with "N$AA" on it, McCants said Wednesday, "The truth is there in the transcripts."
Jalen Rose, a star in the early 1990s for the University of Michigan and current ESPN NBA analyst, joined McCants for the discussion. He said, given the ratio of coaches to players on a college basketball team, "It's almost hypocritical to say you didn’t know."
Both men acknowledged the responsibility of student-athletes in going to class and getting the education that is offered them. McCants said his understanding of that role has changed since he was a player.
"As a 17-year-old," he said. "I had no idea that this was part of exploitation of student athletes."
“There are adults there to usher you along the way,” Rose said.
McCants seemed determined to turn the spotlight away from UNC to a national conversation. He told host Andy Katz that he asked Rose to join that conversation.
"He can sympathize with the fact that student-athletes don’t get the proper care,” McCants said.
"This is not the only place that this happens," he said. "There’s just so many scared athletes.”
Sixteen of McCants teammates issued a statement Friday that said, "With conviction, each one of us is proud to say that we attended class and did our own academic work."
To that, McCants said he'd urge them to release their transcripts.
"They’re going to protect the university; I want to protect the student-athlete,” he said.
"It's not about UNC. It's not about me. It's about the future generation of all student-athletes."
McCants said it's wrong for the media to point the finger only at Williams, the current head coach. He pointed out that Williams' predecessor, Matt Doherty, was the person who brought him to Carolina.
Doherty quickly responded Wednesday afternoon on Twitter. "I did not see any problems while I was at UNC as a player or a coach. I feel sorry for Rashad," he wrote.