Allegations by former Tar Heels star shake hoops culture along Tobacco Road.
His name is insignificant; his story isn’t.
And Rashad McCants does have a story to tell, although it’s a story that speaks as much to the man’s absence of character as it does to the illegal benefits McCants said he got while a basketball star at North Carolina.
He claimed tutors wrote his papers; he claimed he earned A's in classes he never attended; and he claimed that Tar Heels coach Roy Williams knew all about these perks and winked at them.
Yeah, blame the coach. Williams is the reason McCants gave his education a holiday. Yeah, Williams is the reason McCants cheated, the reason he showed the integrity of a hyena.
Now, years after his aspirations of stardom have mostly evaporated into the ozone, McCants, mostly irrelevant now in the hoops universe, thrust himself back into the basketball spotlight with a tattletale story that tells more about him than it does about Coach Williams.
Not that a big-time coach isn’t above bending the rules, and maybe Williams did ignore the academic transgressions of players on his Carolina teams. But he would not be the first coach to do so; he will surely not be the last coach to do so.
For as basketball fans know all too well, what means the most is how many games their alma mater wins. Few alumni care whether these wins are earned the right way, and they certainly don’t care whether athletes like McCants get an education.
These men are replaceable. Their careers on campuses are measured in semesters — eight of them or so. If an athlete wastes his eight semesters and ends up with no degree, he will move along in life while someone else, some other athlete with flashy credentials, comes in and replaces him.
That’s the order of things in college sports. That’s the bargain an athlete strikes with a college. That’s the bargain he strikes with a head coach.
When you look deep into this arrangement, you notice that the coach gets the better of it — at least at a sports factory like North Carolina. His seven-digit paycheck seems out of whack with the price his athletic department pays for athletes to attend classes.
As hard as a coach might push, he can’t make athletes see the long-term value of a college degree when they are busy enjoying the benefits of being the big men on campus.
Rashad McCants was a big man in Chapel Hill. People there did things for him; people wanted to curry his goodwill, even if it meant gaming the rules to help him.
That didn’t matter to him when the perks were rolling in, when he could walk into a Franklin Street bar and heads would turn. No one is looking at McCants now. No one cares about him anymore. He is a mere footnote in the history of Tar Heel hoops, just another high school star who didn’t make a big splash on the big stage of the NBA.
Failing to turn himself into a star, he’s decided to turn his attention to tearing down a rock star of a coach.
This is not to say Roy Williams is a saint or a savior. He’s not. Yet he deserves more from a moral degenerate like Rashad McCants, who dredged up a sordid past of academic fraud that should have benefited him as much as it did Coach Williams.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images)