It didn’t take long for North Carolina coach Roy Williams to fire back at University of Maryland president Wallace Loh.
In an interview on Wednesday morning with SiriusXM College Sports Nation, Williams was asked if winning the 2017 national title had “special significance” given the backdrop of allegations of academic fraud that have hung over the Tar Heels since 2010. Unprovoked, Williams used the question as a platform to respond to Loh recently saying that he would expect the NCAA to hit North Carolina with the so-called “death penalty” as punishment.
“There has been a lot of junk and people have questioned my integrity,” Williams said. “Even since we won, people have come out and said some things without information. They’ve just gone by what somebody else has said.
“We have a President that says we should get the death penalty. A president of another University. I mean, to me that’s just so silly. A guy told me one time, ‘You can get a little knowledge and it turns you into an idiot, but no knowledge you’re a double idiot.’ That’s about the way I look at that thing.”
Williams’ response came two days after the Raleigh News & Observer published comments made by Loh in a question-and-answer session during a University of Maryland senate meeting last Thursday. When a Maryland faculty member asked Loh how he could be sure the university is “protected from the corrupting influence of athletics,” Loh responded by referencing the North Carolina scandal.
“As president I sit over a number of dormant volcanoes,” Loh said. “One of them is an athletic scandal. It blows up, it blows up the university, its reputation, it blows up the president.
“For the things that happened in North Carolina, it’s abysmal. I would think that this would lead to the implementation of the death penalty by the NCAA. But I’m not in charge of that.”
The most recent Notice of Allegations North Carolina received from the NCAA in December reintroduced the argument that the bogus African-American Studies classes constitute extra benefits for the athletes enrolled in them. It claimed that North Carolina’s athletic department leveraged its relationship with two African-American Studies professors to “obtain and/or provide special arrangements for student-athletes in violation of extra-benefit legislation.”
No longer is the North Carolina’s women’s basketball team singled out as the previous version of the Notice of Allegations seemed to do. The new edition put North Carolina’s two revenue sports in the crosshairs by specifically stating that “many at-risk student-athletes, particularly in the sports of football and men’s basketball, used these courses for purposes of ensuring their continuing NCAA academic eligibility.”
The NCAA’s allegations span from 2002-11, a period which includes national titles the Tar Heels men’s basketball team won in 2005 and 2009. If the NCAA’s committee on infractions deems that players on those teams received extra benefits, they could be ruled ineligible, which would put North Carolina at risk of potentially vacating those titles.
Williams has been adamant that his program does not deserve punishment. He doubled down on that stance during his NEWS conference on the eve of the national championship game earlier this month.
“We did nothing wrong,” Williams said. “That’s just the best way to put it. Were there some mistakes made? You’re darned right there were. Were there some things I wish hadn’t happened? You’re darned right. But there were no allegations against men’s basketball. So I’ve sort of hung my hat on that part, and I know we did nothing wrong.”
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