|This is an excerpt from an interview that will appear in the January 2015 Issue of the Inside Carolina Magazine. To learn more about the publication and how to subscribe, CLICK HERE.|
I’m glad they did it. I think it needed to be done. I hope that people will read the report for themselves and come to their own conclusions instead of taking the lazy way out and letting the media engage them in the perception they want them to have.
When I read the report I feel like it is an academic issue, not an athletic issue. If you go that route, you’ll see why Coach (Williams) feels the way he feels. Being the head of this program, the head of the snake, people want his neck. I read the report and I feel like it is an academic issue.
What is your personal experience in that regard?
I met with the Wainstein people. They were great, and I told them what my experiences were. Some of the things reflected in the report were not the experiences that I had here at this university.
I had a great experience, met a lot of great people. I feel like I received a Grade-A education. People who know me and have gotten to know me understand that I am very passionate about this university, and it hurts me to my core that this is the way we are perceived. I feel like the university is trying to do a good job of trying to clean it up. I’ll be the first to say that wasn’t my experience.
One of the general findings was that, as you said, athletes took the classes in question, but it was open to the entire university. And the university has said that it gives what it terms as “academic freedom” to professors to teach as they see fit which is why it is an academic issue. But some have argued or at least insinuated that it was orchestrated by the athletic department…
Absolutely not. No one from upper management talked to me about classes. No one told me to take these classes. I don’t know how it is done now, but we had an advisor, and we went and talked to them. We asked them about classes to take, and at the end of the day we told them what we wanted to take.
I was a communications major when I was here and only became an Af-Am major after I left because I had enough credits that would speed along my graduation. It took me nine years (to get my degree), and—you do the math—if you can graduate in nine years or 12, what are you going to choose? That’s the reason I became an Af-Am major—I wanted to finish my degree (sooner), and I had more credits.
And, not talking about me, it’s not, in my opinion, an athletic issue. People that orchestrated this were hired by the university on the academic side, and, like I said, if you read the report, in some ways it reflects that.
Would you say that it is true that you get out of your education what you put into it? You can get a really good or bad education at a community college or an Ivy League school, even though the ceiling will be higher at the Ivy?
I feel that guys who feel slighted and cheated, at the time they probably weren’t doing the work they needed to do to feel like they got a strong education. When I was here I feel like I got a great education because I look back and remember all the papers, all the hours in study hall after games, study hall at the Final Four. I remember all that.
I couldn’t be happier with the experiences I had here in Chapel Hill. Like I said, it burns me to my core the way we are perceived. We’ll get over it, and it’s extremely unfortunate. I just wish people would read the report and come to their own conclusion. I think we all would be happy if that was the case.
There is often a perception that academics and athletics are at odds, but recently there have been some editorials from academic faculty that it is an academic issue.
I hadn’t seen that, but I’m happy to hear it because it is true. I don’t feel like it’s an athletic issue after reading the report. Before reading the report, I didn’t know all the facts. Once I saw the report on video and then went back and read it, I feel the same way. It’s good that people from the academic side are standing up and saying that. But people who are writing the things they are writing have an agenda, and I think it’s kind of easy to tell that’s the case. We just have to wait to see if it is achieved.
Do you feel like the 2005 championship is under attack?
I think some people want it to be, but like I said, my opinion is that it is an academic issue, so in what way can you take away something we all worked extremely hard for? I don’t feel like we had any type of advantage. I’ll tell you right now, before the national championship game I was in study hall. Before the national championship game, before the Michigan State game at the Final Four I vividly remember having study hall. So in what way do I have an advantage?
It’s unfortunate that, like I said, people have an agenda. I’m sure that’s one of their goals is to try to attack our championship. But I’m really close with 14 of the guys who were on that team. We talk all the time, and we are extremely proud of what we have done, and that is why we released the statement in unison as we did. And that’s why we haven’t said anything [since] because we feel like that’s enough. We all feel our experience here was great, and we love the education that we got here. It’s unfortunate that one or some don’t feel that way, but we can’t worry about one. The majority of us feel the same way.
Rashad (McCants) has always had a strong personality and can be a little “out there” at times, based on the time that I covered him in high school and college. I understand that he wasn’t as tight with the rest of the team as many of the guys were. Why do you feel like he has come out and said some of the things he has said?
I don’t know what his agenda is or why. Rashad is one of the guys we all kind of lost touch with. We tried extremely hard to stay connected. For whatever reason, he didn’t want that—and that’s fine. We all get older and move on in life and move on to different things. Like I said, the reason we came out in unison is because we all are so close 10 years after the fact.
We didn’t just show up one day and put out the statement. We all talk regularly, except for Rashad. I don’t know Rashad’s life. I don’t know what he’s going through. [We] were extremely close here. I always tried to keep him involved with everybody because he was a little bit different. So, like we said in the statement, he will always be a teammate, he’ll always be a brother, but it’s extremely unfortunate that he would turn his back on us in this manner. But I think you can look and see that 15 or 16 other guys on that team don’t feel the same way.
How would you feel if that banner has to come down?
I would be hurt because I know how much work went into that. What does that resolve? At the end of the day I think it is an academic issue. I think there has been some reform. The people in charge now weren’t here at the time, and they have done a good job of trying to put the right people in place, and I think that’s how we move forward. I don’t see how taking that away does anything. Like I said, I don’t feel like we had any sort of advantage.