Commentary: UNC Athlete Should Sue Himself as Well as School

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 25: Michael McAdoo #94 of the North Carolina Tar Heels lines up against the Boston College Eagles at Kenan Stadium on October 25, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Commentary: UNC Athlete Should Sue Himself as Well as School

Michael McAdoo asks federal court to set right what he had a role in making wrong.

Published November 10, 2014

You have to wonder where Michael McAdoo was in 2008 or 2009 when he sat in University of North Carolina classes and let somebody else control his academic fortunes.

Throughout his years in college, McAdoo admits he took “paper classes,” a common practice among Carolina athletes. His college eligibility now used up, McAdoo, a football player for the Tar Heels, has done what people who feel wronged do: sue.

He filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Charlotte, seeking class-action status for all the other Tar Heels who are in his situation. A lot are, too.

“We're not out to vilify UNC,” Jeremi Duru, a Washington, D.C., attorney who represents McAdoo, told “We're trying to restore the student-athlete principle that UNC’s really been for so long in the forefront of.”

What principles?

When did McAdoo get a conscience?

Most people are shaking their heads in disgust, wondering to themselves why he is suing now. They are asking: Shouldn’t his academic progress have mattered when he was filling out a class schedule with courses that lacked academic rigors?

In his suit, McAdoo claims North Carolina coaches promised him – and 3,100 other athletes on the campus – a good education when they came to his home to recruit him. They didn’t deliver.

Nobody should doubt UNC coaches did promise McAdoo an education. College coaches in Power Five conferences promise plenty more than they’re willing or able to deliver.

That’s the deal an athlete makes for a scholarship, and even those people on the edge of intercollegiate athletics know sports trumps schoolwork. McAdoo knew it, too.

So here the man is now, football in his past, whining about what North Carolina didn’t give him instead of asking why he accepted what the school did offer. Even he had to realize that if he wasn’t cracking his books then he wasn’t learning a thing.

Learning is an act of self-fulfillment. A man can cry about what he didn’t get, but he should also blame himself for what he didn’t take. He’s at fault for enrolling in sham classes that had no resemblance to a real education.

Still, no one should excuse North Carolina and other universities for putting athletics ahead of academics – and no one is. But at some point, men like Michael McAdoo must accept their roles in scheming the academic system.

When they do, they won’t end up in court. They’ll figure out a way to get back into the classroom and do what they didn’t do the first time: learn something.

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(Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Written by Justice B. Hill


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