The role of collegiate athletes outside of their duties on the field or on the court is highly controversial. Many believe that student athletes should be paid for their contributions to a school’s various teams, while others believe that those individuals are typically paid with a free education at a higher learning institution.
It is a well-known fact that many schools are significantly more lenient with athletes when it comes to academic rigor. Of course, this is not always the case, but student-athletes bring in money for the university, and they also have to maintain difficult work and practice schedules in addition to their requirements at school.
One of the major universities that has come under fire for its preferential treatment of athletes is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which admitted in January that some of its student-athletes took “fake” classes.
Former UNC football player Deunta Williams recently appeared on ESPN alongside school whistleblower Mary Willingham to further discuss those courses. According to Williams and Willingham, the classes were typically listed as “independent studies” and allowed students to get credit for writing short papers that usually received As or Bs as grades. Attendance was not a factor in these classes, typically referred to as "paper classes."
According to Business Insider, the students produced a paper from one such course that received an A-minus. The paper is only a paragraph long, and can be read in full below:
On the evening of December Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit in the white people section on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. During this time blacks had to give up there seats to whites when more whites got on the bus. Rosa parks refused to give up her seat. Her and the bus driver began to talk and the conversation went like this. "Let me have those front seats" said the driver. She didn't get up and told the driver that she was tired of giving her seat to white people. "I'm going to have you arrested," said the driver. "You may do that," Rosa Parks responded. Two white policemen came in and Rosa Parks asked them "why do you all push us around?" The police officer replied and said "I don't know, but the law is the law and you're under arrest."
The university has since ceased enrolling students in these “paper classes,” but the major questions regarding student athletes and their obligations both in the classroom and on the field have still yet to be answered.