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UNC athletes drop the ball, commit academic foul


When the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was recently busted for an academic fraud in which thousands of student athletes were registered for fake classes in order to retain eligibility, the first word that came to my mind was “excuse.”

As a Division 1 athlete, I fully understand what is asked of college athletes. Practice hours are tiresome and grueling workouts are a daily routine. Missing class is more than inconvenient, and free time is unheard of, even during the off-season.

There is pressure to perform not only on the court, field or course, but also in the classroom. And although there is an art to creating this balance, athletics should never tip the scale in its own favor. This cop-out by the UNC faculty and student-athlete body is inexcusable.

Our society is growing increasingly sports-centric. Sunday night football extends far beyond couch commentary, and there seem to be few places in the world where athletics do not have a presence. This isn’t a bad thing.

I love sports. I root for my Jets and my Giants, I cringe when the Mets exceed their winning capacity just weeks into the season and I cheer Rory Mcllroy on during Masters Week. Sports have the capacity to motivate people, to energize people, to bring people together. But when they are used to cheat anything, especially an education, they become something for which I cannot stand.

My coach always tells us that academics come first. She understands that even though we were recruited, our education is ultimately what is most essential for our future.

If athletes aim to enter the professional realm of sports after college, I encourage that. But nothing should be sacrificed now to obtain that goal.

I’ve put thousands of hours into practice over the course of my life to get to where I am, and I expect that same dedication and effort from myself in all aspects of my college experience.

Cheating should not be used as a safety net because student athletes were not motivated enough to study. It should not be a rung on the ladder to our goals.

Yes, the D1 sports and school balance can seem unbearable at times, but if we climb through our education by cheating, at what point do we let morality step back in? Once we’ve made it big?

If that is how UNC proposes its student athletes should excel through life, then those student athletes are going to have a lot more to worry about than ineligibility.

The views and opinions expressed in the Op-Ed section are those of the authors of the articles. They are not an endorsement of the views of The Chronicle or its staff. The Chronicle does not discriminate based on the opinions of the authors. 

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