UNC athletics as a powerful force for morality (1894)

“It would be dishonest not to say that the greatest force in the life of the University to-day contributing to sobriety, manliness, healthfulness and morality generally is athletics.”
— UNC president George Tayloe Winston, writing in Alumni Quarterly, 1894

“Amid the blue-and-white pompoms, few are so rude as to mention that the University of North Carolina, the Microsoft of college basketball, remains enmeshed in a scandal of spectacular proportions. Put simply, for two decades until 2013, the university provided fake classes for many hundreds of student athletes, most of them basketball and football players….”

— From “North Carolina’s Dominance Fails to Cover Cheating’s Stain” by Michael Powell in the New York Times (March 31)


2 thoughts on “UNC athletics as a powerful force for morality (1894)”

  1. It will take a long time for UNC to get past that fake class scandal, where about 3100 students went through a fake program. It’s certainly a black mark on the University. The question I keep asking is: Why didn’t some of those 3100 stand up and say, “Hey, wait a minute. This isn’t the class or the major I wanted. I want to be a doctor, or lawyer, or (fill in the blank).” For almost twenty years, why didn’t anyone make it known that something was terribly wrong. Turned out, these students robbed themselves of a great education by not speaking up. It was truly the worst of times.

    Lew, your post brought to mind a period that, in my opinion, was the best of times…the time between VJ Day and the Korean War. A time when the student population was a bit older than normal due to returning World War II veterans.

    On November 12, 1949, UNC played Notre Dame in New York’s Yankee Stadium and thousands of students went up for the game and stayed at the Statler Hotel, the team headquarters.

    In the December 17, 1949 issue of “The State” magazine, publisher Carl Goerch shared a letter he received from hotel manager James S. McCabe. The letter went like this:

    “In all my hotel experience I’ve never dealt with a finer crowd of people than the North Carolinians who came up to see that game. I believe we must have had close to two thousand of them here at the Statler. They were out for a good time and they had it, but there was nothing rough, and nothing out of the way. There was no damage of any kind to hotel property. I haven’t even heard of a broken glass. There was noise—plenty of it—but it was of the good-natured variety: the kind you naturally would expect on occasions of this kind. There were a few instances where somebody may have had a little too much to drink, but friends took good care of them and saw to it that they didn’t get into any kind of trouble. These cases, however, were so scattered that they really aren’t worth mentioning.

    “For a number of days after the game, the people from North Carolina proved to be one of the chief topics of conversation in this town, particularly among the hotel folks. To my way of thinking it was one of the finest public relations jobs ever done by any state in the union. There are vast numbers of residents here who never have been to your state. Despite this, they now have the impression that North Carolinians are the friendliest people in the world, and so far as I am concerned, I don’t believe that they’re so very far in error. It certainly was a real pleasure to have them with us.”

    Carolina’s Golden Era with “the greatest generation.”

  2. Jack, your comment about missed educational opportunities is poignant. Staying eligible seems to so wag the dog that the benefits of actual classroom learning rarely even merit consideration…. Maybe the term should be “none and done”….Or maybe we’re just nostalgia-afflicted old guys!

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