Sunday, February 23, 2014

University of North Carolina: Academic Fraud (2014)

UNC Mascot and sports logo
The University of North Carolina (UNC) was founded in 1789 by William Richardson Davie. The university was one of the first public universities in the United States and the only one to graduate students in the eighteenth century. The University of North Carolina is currently undergoing an academic fraud scandal with the NCAA which is sparking racial recriminations. This has been brought to the light due to the fact that some student-athletes cannot read past an elementary school level. Carolina officials have admitted that in the mid-1990's the schools African American and Diaspora Studies hosted hundred of phony classes to generate fake grades that kept athletes eligible to play. Although the program has started a rebuilding process, since the former black studies chairman was forced to retire in 2012, it still does not erase the past years where students were encouraged to take pretend classes that did nothing to help them intellectually. The University's administration has put the blame on campus tutor Mary Willingham who has been publicly demonized and one UNC professor was indicted on fraud charges for being paid for a class he did not teach. UNC has resisted investigation to get to the bottom of it. Phillip Jackson, an executive director of Black Star Project wrote, "I find it appalling that the UNC would choose to issue a declaration of support to defend UNC even after the university admitted that it cheated young black men out of the best education possible... maybe they don't realize that their university students are not just competing among themselves in the big cities and small towns of North Carolina. Maybe they don't understand that being globally competent is a way 'bigger game' than football or basketball." Chancellor Carol Folt has told media and UNC trustees that, "we accept the fact that there was a failure in academic oversight for years." The chancellor now sees it was wrong and that it undermined their integrity and reputation.

Utilitarianism focuses on ones happiness and pleasure and how to maximize them for yourself and others.  Coaches were becoming happy because their student-athletes were still able to play even though they should not have been able to.  By enrolling their student-athletes in these fake classes everything was going well academically, so that they could focus more on the court or the football field.  Also the student-athletes themselves are happy as of right now because they can play the sports they love without having to worry about school work whatsoever.  Although in the future, if they do not get a professional job in their sport when they graduate, they will have a very hard and unhappy time finding a job with only a elementary school reading level.  Even if they did go play professionally it would still not be ideal for them to have such a low educational background because they would still need a good vocabulary for interviews and reading their write ups or statistics.

UNC Basketball team
Kantianism states that we are all members of humanity and should already have rational and moral values programmed into ourselves and should follow these values, keeping the Good Will in mind, saying that you should always do what is right.  It was neither rational or moral of UNC to create fake classes for student-athletes because by doing this they are keeping their students from the education they deserve and pay for.  The whole reason of being a student-athlete is to get a good education while playing the sport you love, with your academics being first.  Looking at the Formula of Humanity within Kantianism it says that you must treat yourself and other people as end and never as a means, as well as eliminating lying and deceitfulness of any kind just like the Formula of Universal Law.  By creating fake classes for students, UNC was not only lying to the students about their education but also to the NCAA allowing the student-athletes to play, which is unmoral.  Also UNC never had the rational consent of the players to enroll them into these classes.  They may have had their verbal consent, but the players did not think about or have to deal with the consequences of their actions at all.

Individualism, according to Friedman, says that their is only one goal of business, to profit, so the only obligation that the business personnel have is to the maximize profit for the owner or the stockholders.Going by what Friedman is saying about individualism, the University of North Carolina was doing everything right. People pay to come see their favorite team and players play. If the players are not able to play ticket sales goes down which means profit goes down as well. By UNC having phony classes, all players were able to play despite their grades.

Virtue Theory
NCAA logo

Virtue Theory is based off of four main characteristics: courage, honesty, temperance and justice. The first characteristic is courage which means taking risks and the willingness to take a stand for the right actions and ideas. UNC did take a risk of trying to get all players to play despite their grades. However, this was not the right action or idea. Student-athletes need to learn to be students first and athletes second. Honesty is the agreement to be truthful with ones employees, customers and other companies. UNC was not truthful when it came to their athletes grades. They did not stick to their NCAA rule book which states that student-athletes have to maintain a certain grade point average in order to play in NCAA games. This is the same for all teams within the NCAA. Temperance is the ability to set reasonable expectations and desires.  By enrolling student-athletes in fake classes UNC did not set reasonable expectations because they needed to resort to relying on these fake classes in order to keep the players GPA's up.  Justice includes hard work, good ideas, and fair practices.  UNC did not follow this because their players were not working hard and following the rules, while other schools were.  The players that did not have the right GPA's still competed against the ones that actually worked to get their GPA's.

UNC was deemed unethical on three of the four ethical theories.  The one exemption being Individualism only because they were following the theory of maximizing their profit. The other three theories were not followed because they created a fake happiness for their student-athletes, they did not keep the Good Will in mind and create the classes for all the wrong reasons, and they did not have the four characteristics of the virtue theory.


Barrett, Paul M. "UNC Academic Fraud Scandal Sparks Racial Recriminations." Bloomberg Business Week. Bloomberg, 04 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

Ganim, Sara. "UNC: We Failed Students 'for Years'" CNN. Cable News Network, 29 Jan. 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

Salazar, Heather. "Kantian Business Ethics." 20 Feb. 2014.

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