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North Carolina

NC leaders: NCAA is a broken system that nobody wants to change

Posted October 26, 2011
Updated October 27, 2011

— The current NCAA model does not benefit the student-athlete but nobody is in a hurry to change it according to attorney Robert Orr, former state Supreme Court Justice and current head of the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law.

“I don't think the system, as it is now established, can be sustained over time, but there is so much money that the NCAA (brings in) from the universities that are constituent members, that there is this huge unwillingness to undertake the kind of really substantive reforms that need to be undertaken because it might jeopardize the flow of money," Orr said. “(I) think that's the real scandal, that university leaders know the system is broken and let it stay broken. (They) can't legislate (the) problem away.”

The NCAA, a private organization, has come under scrutiny on a national level recently for the way they balance the student-athlete label with their for-profit business model. Orr says that tension is glorified when athletes of marginal or disadvantaged backgrounds are expected to perform within the constraints of a multi-billion dollar system.

Orr posed the scenario of student-athletes getting reprimanded for selling jerseys when retailers, universities and the NCAA itself profit from similar sales.

“It's such a huge problem, and there are such huge amounts of money involved, that it may take the Congress," he said.

Tom Ross, president of the University of North Carolina System, agrees that big-time college programs have issues balancing the academic and athletic aspects of college students due to money.

"I think to the extent that there are problems, it's because there is pressure from the commercial side,” Ross said. “I think there are people who want to come together and look for solutions. What that will look like in the end, I don't know."

Bill Friday, former UNC system president, agrees that the financial aspect of intercollegiate sports is an issue, but argues that with an institution, such as the NCAA, having been created by a conglomerate of institutions, there is a gray area of control.

“There has never been a time when intercollegiate sports (was) in as much trouble as it is right now," Friday said. “(It) has all been a result of huge sums of money.

“If you want to see utter chaos, just take away the NCAA and have nothing. You can't solve a problem by eliminating the NCAA and then standing there empty handed."

Friday also added that the notion of college athletics has become more of a spectacle than a social benefit.

“What's got to come one of these days is the realization that you can't impose an entertainment industry upon an academic enterprise and expect it to work,” he said.

Friday, Ross and Orr all agree that academics need to remain in the forefront of discussions when it comes to the student-athlete experience.

At an NCAA leaders retreat in August, a talking point among presidents, chancellors and athletic directors was raising the bar for eligibility requirements and APR averages.

Critics argue that some student-athletes will be denied the opportunity to better themselves; proponents say the college experience will enhanced.

“The presidents are going to be looking at models that increase that standard that says a student must come in with a higher grade point average in academic courses in order to be eligible as freshman,” said NCAA Vice President for Academic and Membership Affairs Kevin Lennon. “That basically says we want better-prepared students coming to our four-year campuses.”

Orr wonders what will happen to the students who are not as prepared and require the extra help but also are expected to perform on the field.

“You bring in a student who is marginally prepared for university-level work, you give them a physically demanding 20- or 30-hour a week job, it is not unusual for them to really struggle academically," he said.

Orr also argues that accusing players of academic fraud should be approached cautiously because in many cases, the student actually does not know the help is an NCAA violation.

The NCAA says it recognizes certain shortfalls in both financial and academic models as they relate to the student-athlete and is actively pursuing ways to fix them.

Ideas of stipends, multi-year scholarships, increased academic standards, a simplified rule book and a focus on graduation rates are all topics being actively looked at according to Lennon.

“We do recognize we need to some things differently, and there is a clear commitment to doing so,” he said.


WRAL will have live reports from Indianapolis Thursday and Friday where UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp and Director of Athletics Dick Baddour will go before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

129 Comments

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  • GhostofSmitty Oct 28, 12:43 a.m.

    How come we hear so much crying about the NCAA being unfair AFTER UNC commits the NCAA... View More

    — Posted by mrfree

    We have accepted it and are ready to move on. The Red Ragers are going to keep bringing this up for at least 30 years. Until UNC is treated in a harsher manner than NCSU was 22 years ago, there are some that will never let this go and it will totally consume them and eat at them like a hate cancer until nothing is left but that raw hatred.

  • GhostofSmitty Oct 28, 12:39 a.m.

    Uh, there are well thought of leaders all over who have said the NCAA needs a complete overhaul... View More

    — Posted by GhostofSmitty

    This is SO FAR off base. These three monkeys are not looking out "long term", nor for college... View More

    — Posted by rayraynral

    You are a total dolt if you think anything is going to change what happens tomorrow and or at... View More

    — Posted by GhostofSmitty

    If you could read my post you would have seen the phrase "the NCAA hammer coming down.", MEANING... View More

    — Posted by rayraynral

    Tissue, shoulder, counseling, seadatives, puppy, an evening with Thomas? No personal attacks by me, just calling them as they are. Sorry the truth is brutal for you. Not sure what you are hunting for out of guys who are taking a macro look at the situation and are not commented on the UNC deal because there is nothing to say. They committed violations, they will pay. I'm not sure why you Red Rage away looking for something else out of someone to make you feel better and give your hate some sort of justification. But hatred is like that, it is a thirst never quenched.

  • pskunk119 Oct 28, 12:14 a.m.

    I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that so many people want to make this about UNC and not the... View More

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Standing O, Ken. As usual, you wrote an honest, intelligent, unbiased post, and you're spot on.... View More

    — Posted by Gunnstigator

    It is MOST CERTAINLY a Carolina/State issue when Friday treats UNC preferentially to NCSU under... View More

    — Posted by rayraynral

    With all due respect, ray, everything seems to be a Carolina/State issue with you. When have... View More

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Ken, you lost ALL credibilty with this post. The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of TRUSTEES forced the firing of Davis. The UNC SYSTEM Board of GOVERNORS is totally different. And yes, 60% of emebers are UNC grads.

    The BoT fired Davis. The BoG turned a blind eye to events in Chapel Hill and let them investigate themselves. 20 years prior they ordered TWO independent investigations of NC State and recommended the self-imposed sanctions of 2 years post-season ban. You do realize the NC State coaching staff was cleared by the NCAA.

  • mrfree Oct 27, 11:46 p.m.

    How come we hear so much crying about the NCAA being unfair AFTER UNC commits the NCAA violations? How come we hear today about a new UNC compliance website and revised program, why didn't we hear about this 6 or 9 months ago, this mess came out over a yr ago?

    UNC has been remiss in exercising control over an out-of-control football program. Heels, do yourselves a favor, stop making excuses, accept your punishment and grow from it. No sport, coach or prize is worth this scandal or this damage to your reputation.

  • Tarheel born Oct 27, 9:51 p.m.

    Just keep hammering them smitty.....and you're right, most of these wulfpups have no concept or knowledge of the history of personalities that have commented on the overhauling of the NCAA....especially President Friday who for over 15-20 years have called for drastic changes for the NCAA....

    GO HEELS!!

  • rayraynral Oct 27, 8:07 p.m.

    Bwahahahaha. I guess they don't teach the concept of "irony" over there in CH. I "have a... View More

    — Posted by The Gooch

    Uh, there are well thought of leaders all over who have said the NCAA needs a complete overhaul... View More

    — Posted by GhostofSmitty

    This is SO FAR off base. These three monkeys are not looking out "long term", nor for college... View More

    — Posted by rayraynral

    You are a total dolt if you think anything is going to change what happens tomorrow and or at... View More

    — Posted by GhostofSmitty

    If you could read my post you would have seen the phrase "the NCAA hammer coming down.", MEANING that I never expected the (bad) outcome to change because of the three monkeys' ramblings. They are simply trying to take the edge off the upcoming bad news by assigning blame for the problem to the NCAA.

    And, once again, as you frequently have done in the past, spouting off personal attacks is a CLEAR admission that you have lost the argument. Also, seeing that you are the Rhodes Scholar among us, you might also want to check out rules for the proper use of apostrophes.

  • GhostofSmitty Oct 27, 6:07 p.m.

    You have a severe inferiority complex. My suggestion is to seek professional help and some... View More

    — Posted by GhostofSmitty

    Bwahahahaha. I guess they don't teach the concept of "irony" over there in CH. I "have a... View More

    — Posted by The Gooch

    Uh, there are well thought of leaders all over who have said the NCAA needs a complete overhaul... View More

    — Posted by GhostofSmitty

    Awww, somebody got hims feelings hurt. I know it must difficult and uncomfortable to be going... View More

    — Posted by The Gooch

    Nope, what is going down bothers me none in the least, have posted about it several times before. Try and keep up. Bill Friday as well as others have been talking about the NCAA being a dinosaur for quite a while. You not knowing the history and people who have felt the NCAA needed reform demonstrates the inability or unwillingness to be informed and learned. Again, what Friday said will not affect UNC or what happens tomorrow. The punishment is a done deal and no new revelations will be uncovered. Just trying to bring you up to my level, but it's hard to reach someone so far out of touch. And the only thing you dominate is your fantasies.

    BTW, make sure all those professionls you rely on every day that went to UNC know you think they got their degree from a "cheating fraud of a university". Man up and live your vitreol and see how far you get in life.

  • GhostofSmitty Oct 27, 5:54 p.m.

    It's amazing that Robert Orr, Bill Friday, & other UNC alumni only feel the need to speak out... View More

    — Posted by V83

    So true, so when it was NC State getting investigated it was the crook Jimmy V, and his dirty... View More

    — Posted by PACKFAN08

    Man, it has been over 20 years. If you had not said anything I would have not remembered,... View More

    — Posted by GhostofSmitty

    I've never been embarrassed by low graduation rates
    If a student can't master the material - teh... View More

    — Posted by one

    I would be as it shows you are POTENTIALLY not providing the athletes with needed resources to get descent grades. Tell you what, hang on to that low grad rate and see how the recruits parents feel about you leaving their kid out on an island when he needs help, while he is making your university millions playing sports. Your assumption everyone who goes to NCSU becomes an Engineer is a fallacy and the NCAA is not separating it out by discipline. Sure it's possible, all kids have the capability. Yep, work with disadvantaged at risk youth and have not seen one yet that does not have the capability if the resources are there. Next.

  • GhostofSmitty Oct 27, 5:49 p.m.

    You have a severe inferiority complex. My suggestion is to seek professional help and some... View More

    — Posted by GhostofSmitty

    Bwahahahaha. I guess they don't teach the concept of "irony" over there in CH. I "have a... View More

    — Posted by The Gooch

    Uh, there are well thought of leaders all over who have said the NCAA needs a complete overhaul... View More

    — Posted by GhostofSmitty

    This is SO FAR off base. These three monkeys are not looking out "long term", nor for college... View More

    — Posted by rayraynral

    You are a total dolt if you think anything is going to change what happens tomorrow and or at the end of the year when the punishment is finalized. I honestly can't beleive you that stoopid and if you are a graduate of one of our fine institutions and you think that then you cheated and lied to get your diploma, no way you earned it. UNC has recommended it's punishment and they will most likely accept it without any adds. Get over it Red Rager and crawl back into your troll hole.

  • Ken D. Oct 27, 4:30 p.m.

    "I have always questioned how schools have higher athletic GPAs than general population."

    With the exception of football and men's basketball, athletes have always been better students than non-athletes on average. This isn't just true in college. It is true in high schools all over the country. Athletes tend to be better motivated and better organized, and because students with low GPA's aren't allowed to participate in athletics, the GPA's of athletes are skewed to the high side.

    "The NCAA should investigate the schools with 90%+ athletic 4 year graduation rates - it's simply not possible"

    I don't believe the NCAA has data about four year graduation rates. All their studies are based on 6 year rates. That being said, I doubt you could find a university president who would agree with your assertion that a 90% rate isn't possible. Especially at schools like Duke, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, etc. who achieve it regularly.

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