BOZICH | Imagine if Rashad McCants had played for U of L, UK or - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Imagine if Rashad McCants had played for U of L, UK or IU

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Former basketball player Rashad McCants has created another nightmare for North Carolina. Former basketball player Rashad McCants has created another nightmare for North Carolina.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Imagine if Rashad McCants had been one of John Calipari's former players.

No need to give you a name. Just pick anybody who played for Cal, any player whose reputation for academic heavy lifting wasn't the greatest at Kentucky, Memphis or Massachusetts. You would have heard non-stop clucking from here to the Smith Center.

Or what if McCants had played at the University of Louisville?

A modern-day version of the late Tom Brookshier would have delivered a three-day rant on the team's collective IQ and graduation rate. Most of America, led by the folks who insisted U of L lacked the academic chops to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, would have nodded.

Don't forget Indiana. Kelvin Sampson recruited a string of chowder-heads during his two-season reign in Bloomington. McCants would have fit in with those misfits – and the wise guys would have chirped to add another year to the Hoosiers' NCAA probation.

But Rashad McCants played at The University of North Carolina, the program with the reputation for pumping out doctors, lawyers and conference commissioners.

McCants won a national championship in St. Louis in 2005, during a Final Four that also included U of L.

North Carolina is a program that has demanded genuine genuflecting in college basketball. It's the home of Dean Smith, Michael Jordan and Tyler Hansbrough. It's recommended that you bring a GPA of 3.7 as well as an ACT of 28 or better for admission.

You need legit academic credentials to get in – and then get through – Chapel Hill. Misfits need not apply.

Except for several years we've been learning that North Carolina isn't different from other schools obsessed with winning, which is essentially anybody else.

Tales of bogus classes, inflated grades and charades surrounding classroom attendance, especially for courses in UNC's Afro-American studies department have been outlined in multiple news reports.

The NCAA has shown minimal interest in discovering what really went on in Chapel Hill. The Raleigh News and Observer has done most of the heavy lifting.

An assistant football coach (John Blake) and several players were tossed into the discard pile because of their dealings with player-agents. Butch Davis, the head football coach, also had to go.

But that was North Carolina football – and you don't have to be Mike Krzyzewski to know that North Carolina football is not North Carolina basketball.

North Carolina basketball wins national championships, two in the last 10 seasons. North Carolina recruits McDonald's all-Americans. North Carolina has developed – and promoted – a reputation as a school that does everything the right way.

Enter Rashad McCants.

He averaged 16 points and three rebounds for the Tar Heels' 2005 NCAA champions. He scored 31 points during UNC's Final Four victories against Michigan State and Illinois. He was voted to the Final Four All-Tournament team with teammates Sean May and Raymond Felton. He was an in-state kid who was supposed to be the Next Great Thing.

But something about McCants always seemed toxic.

He was part of a recruiting class that contributed to the dismissal of Matt Doherty, the coach who recruited him. He was a guy who once compared the life of being a North Carolina basketball player to being in jail (really). McCants and UNC coach Roy Williams even quarreled during a Final Four game.

Now Rashad McCants is North Carolina's worst nightmare, a guy who told ESPN's Outside the Lines that his classroom attendance and grade point average during his final season in Chapel Hill was more scam than academic masterpiece.

Oops.

That’s not the Carolina Way. The school, led by head coach Roy Williams, has pushed back vigorously against the story, questioning McCants' ability to tell the truth.

Understandable. If Rashad McCants wanted to earn a legitimate education at UNC, I'm certain he was provided all the tools. His failure to deliver as an NBA player is another flashing light.

The university issued a statement Tuesday, saying the school's investigation of the academic issues is ongoing, that significant reforms are already in place and blah, blah, blah.

But Rashad McCants has already done more to hurt North Carolina basketball program than any game the Tar Heels' have lost. He has become the poster boy for what should be the takeaway from this story:

There are rogues, corner cutters and scammers in college athletic programs everywhere, even exalted campuses like North Carolina.

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