Former North Carolina basketball star Rashad McCants shot back at Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams on Wednesday and answered criticism about his allegations of academic fraud while a member of the 2004-05 national championship team.
"Outside the Lines" reported last week that McCants said his tutors wrote his term papers, he rarely went to class for about half his time at UNC and he remained able to play largely because he took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible.
On Saturday, Williams told ESPN that he was in "shock" and "disbelief" over the McCants allegations, saying the experiences McCants shared did not match what he knows about his players' academic efforts and records and the basketball program he oversees. Several former players who attended the Williams interview but did not wish to speak on camera echoed Williams' points and vehemently disagreed with McCants' allegations and descriptions of being an athlete at UNC.
But McCants, in an appearance Wednesday on "Outside the Lines," stood by his allegations and called on all former players from 2004-05 to release their academic transcripts, which would show whether they, too, took bogus African-American studies classes: "If you want to find the truth, the truth is there in the transcripts," McCants said.
A copy of McCants' university transcript, labeled "unofficial" and obtained by "Outside the Lines," shows that in his non-African-American studies classes, McCants received six C's, one D and three F's. In his African-American studies classes -- many of which are referred to as "paper classes" because students did not have to attend them -- his grades were 10 A's, six B's, one C and one D.
McCants also said Wednesday that Williams' denial and distancing from what he knew about his players' academic performances and standing didn't ring true.
"How are you getting paid millions of dollars to be a coach?" McCants said. "How is that you're not accountable for what your athletes do off the floor?"
On Wednesday, McCants also stood behind an allegation he made directly about Williams: That, when he was possibly headed toward ineligibility during the 2004-05 national championship season due to grades, Williams told him in a meeting that a summer session could be swapped out with a failed class to improve his GPA.
Williams adamantly denied Saturday that he ever discussed swapping any classes with McCants; further, he said he did not recall such a meeting "at all."
But on Wednesday, McCants said: "Maybe he's getting a little old. You know, that's something that I can't ... I don't have any control over what he remembers. All I know is the truth. And I'm not up here to lie about anything."
Williams did say that if a player were having academic trouble, he probably would talk with the player: "That's part of my job." But he repeatedly said he and his staff have drawn lines they don't cross when it comes to players' academics.
"We have a very defined system here at the University of North Carolina," he said. "I have somewhat control over the basketball program. I don't have control over the academic side. But the academic side and our athletic director and our president want me to emphasize that academic side every single day, and they want our players to understand that. ...
"They want us to be concerned and to emphasize it but they don't want us to step over to the academic side. They don't want that to happen."
ESPN basketball analyst Jalen Rose, who joined McCants on Wednesday as a guest on "Outside the Lines," also questioned Williams' stated knowledge of his athletes' academics.
"I respect Roy Williams. He's a champion. He's a Hall of Famer," said Rose. "But it almost is a slap in the face to the entire system, to NCAA basketball, to major collegiate sports, that he does not know what classes his kids are: a) taking, and b) the results of those classes, and c) even talked to the students about the update of those classes.
"And I know he's not deaf, dumb or blind, but when you say that in an interview, it's going to make a lot of people think that you may think that we are."
The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer reported Saturday evening that McCants was not the only member of the 2005 team who relied on the bogus classes. The newspaper said that data it had obtained shows that "five members of that team, including at least four key players, accounted for a combined 39 enrollments in classes that have been identified as confirmed or suspected lecture classes that never met." No player earned less than a B in any of the enrollments, according to the report.
McCants' allegations mirror and amplify many of those first made public in 2011, when the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer began to report about widespread academic fraud at UNC. The scandal has centered on the African-American studies classes many athletes took in order to remain eligible.
A UNC internal investigation found that 54 classes in the department of African and African-American studies were either "aberrant" or "irregularly" taught from summer 2007 to summer 2011. That investigation went back to only 2007.
UNC has commissioned another investigation, which is ongoing. That investigator released a statement Friday after the McCants allegations were public and said he hoped to speak with McCants.
McCants didn't directly answer a question Wednesday about whether he would cooperate in the UNC-funded investigation. "I think [the investigator] should discuss [their academic experiences] with the 16 guys who said they had excellent experiences," McCants said.