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Dorm Report: McCant's claims part of a bigger problem

<p>In an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" last week, former North Carolina star Rashad McCants made damaging allegations against his former school.</p>

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - In an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" last week, former North Carolina star Rashad McCants made damaging allegations against his former school.

McCants claimed a host of academically fraudulent procedures were commonplace at Chapel Hill during his time with the Tar Heels, including tutors writing papers for players and a lack of class attendance by himself and some fellow athletes.

"I thought it was a part of the college experience," McCants said in the interview. "When you get to college, you don't go to class, you don't do nothing, you just show up and play."

The comments are even more difficult for UNC administrators and supporters to swallow considering McCants is among the top 20 all-time scorers at UNC (1,721 points) and was a key member of its 2005 national championship team.

Obviously, UNC's athletic department did not sit idly by when these accusations surfaced.

"I strongly disagree with what Rashad has said. In no way did I know about or do anything close to what he says and I think the players whom I have coached over the years will agree with me," Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams said in a statement. "I have spent 63 years on this earth trying to do things the right way and the picture he portrays is not fair to the university or me."

Perhaps it is Williams and the university that are not being fair with the public. College athletics is a billion dollar business that, like most corporate behemoths, shrouds its inner workings in layers of mystery.

Williams' comments, and similar ones made by UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham, are colored with language of surprise, disappointment and tints of outrage.

However, UNC is the same school that had NCAA sanctions placed on its football team in 2012 and even performed an internal independent investigation into academic issues within the athletic department.

Of course, this problem goes far beyond North Carolina.

Ed O'Bannon, a former player at UCLA, gave testimony on Monday during the beginning of a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA in which he also admitted to missing classes and putting basketball before any other opportunity or responsibility.

McCants and O'Bannon are not the first players to speak about this critical issues and they likely will not be the last to do so.

In recent years, the number of schools that have received sanctions from the NCAA due to academic fraud or failure to meet standards has been increasing in size at an alarming rate.

What may not be as alarming is the fact student-athletes, especially at powerhouse schools like UNC, Miami (Florida) and Connecticut - all of whom received sanctions for one issue or another recently - are thought of as athletes only.

It is a notion that should not surprise anyone who has followed college basketball and football. The suspicion of such academic wrongdoing has long been there, but too often it has been ignored. After all, the passion that surrounds college sports and the immense profits which they produce have consistently trumped what is fair and right for these student-athletes.

That is not to say what is right for them is being forced to attend college.

Not too long ago high school players were eligible for the NBA Draft. However, in 2005, under a new collective bargaining agreement, the rules changed. The current requirements mandate a prospect must be 19 years of age and that at least one NBA season has elapsed since the player's graduation from high school.

New NBA commissioner Adam Silver is a strong supporter of raising the age limit to 20. It is an issue he has been outspoken about and one he hopes to make a top priority during his administration.

The mandated age limit, whether 19 or 20, has and will obviously continue to have an enormous impact on the college game. The "one-and-done" system that is now prevalent was born from these rules and has shaped how college recruiting is handled and how seasons unfold.

Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid are likely going to be the first three picks in this year's draft. All three were freshmen during the 2013-14 college season. That doesn't even take into account other freshmen like Indiana's Noah Vonleh, Kentucky's Julius Randle and Arizona's Aaron Gordon, who will likely be taken off the board very early as well.

While some "one-and-done" players from past years' drafts have returned to school to get their degree or will in the future, oftentimes that is not the case, making that one year rather meaningless academically.

So why force players to go to college, if not to at least get a beginning to a college degree?

It would seem, especially if McCants is to be believed, the age limit boils down to ensuring the NCAA and universities are able to cash in for at least a year on these athletes before they move on to their own potential bigger financial benefits. But it is a broken system and so is the entire student- athlete dynamic as currently constructed, especially in the major money-making sports of basketball and football.

Student compensation, merchandising, improper recruiting and academic fraud and irregularities are just a few of the major problems that are stirring in college sports. By bringing his own experiences into the light, McCants has helped bring more pressure to work on solutions to such problems, rather than continuing to overlook them in order to protect entertainment value and the almighty dollar.

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