Sunday, April 5, 2015

University of North Carolina: Fake Classes and Fake GPA's

College sports have been the center of attention lately due the Final Four college basketball tournament coming to an end. Collegiate student-athletes often have a lot on their plates whether that be practice, a social life, and school work. An article on CNN brought to my attention that at the University of North Carolina (UNC), a prestigious university known for their many sports teams and rigorous academic curriculum, thousands of student-athletes for over eighteen years were enrolled by academic advisers to take fake "paper classes" to keep the athletes eligible to play in collegiate sports. The fake classes were called "paper classes" that never met and only had a "final" paper. The university is now being held under investigation by Kenneth Wainstein, a prosecutor hired by the university to independently investigate the academic fraud.

The scandal was brought into light by Mary Willingham who is a learning specialist on the UNC campus. Her job was to help athletes who weren't prepared for the academic work of the university. She stated that she, "kind of panicked" when she was helping a basketball player who could not read or write. CNN states in their article that, "many students in the basketball and football programs could read only up to an eighth-grade level."

After reading the many articles about the academic fraud committed by UNC, my first reaction is complete shock. But my question is; if there were students that couldn't read past the eighth-grade level, then how the hell could they get into college? The college process in general is quite the journey so how are universities such as UNC allowed to let illiterate students in? The answer to that is simply: sports. 

College sports teams such as UNC who've won many national championships in various sports often receive a hefty amount of money and funding. Therefore, colleges across the nation tend to focus a lot of their attention on sports. UNC is most likely not the only college who "aid" athletes by offering fake classes to raise GPA's. But to what extent is this fair? Should our nation's love of sports and athletic affairs cloud college life and the college admissions process? What about that one kid who has a perfect 4.0 GPA and studies to become a lawyer or a doctor but, does not get into because they chose an athlete over that one student? Should we value sports over academics?

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