Mary Willingham is being quite contrary

EdRalphRomero

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So Mary Willingham is asserting her research on UNC football and basketball players shows that 8-10% of these players read below a third grade level.

The University seems to be confused about how to respond using the kitchen sink approach of asserting they don't believe her, haven't seen the data, this was an unauthorized project, etc. Then they admit they have seen the data, and that actually they own the data and it is housed in their syste,.

Willingham is a tutor in the Center for Student Success at UNC. So she works at UNC and got her masters degree at UNC. Willingham claims that she has gotten 4 death threats so far and many more "alarming" messages.

Story here.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/09/us/ncaa-athletes-unc-response/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

I haven't read the research paper, but I am curious about the distribution of reading levels. What level does the bottom 50% of players read at or below?
 

DukeSox

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It's amazing how little attention the UNC scandal has received.  There was an entire department administering classes that didn't exist to hundreds of athletes over more than a decade.
 
The head of that department is likely going to jail.  And so little attention.  
 

Williams Head Case

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Anecdotal and all, but I posted this article on my Facebook page and about a half dozen UNC friends of mine commented with "What is that point of posting this?" "Why are you spreading this?" "What are you trying to say?" etc. I'm thinking part assuming I'm trying to instigate them and part not wanting any attention to enable the institutional cover up.
 

Greg29fan

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DukeSox said:
It's amazing how little attention the UNC scandal has received.  There was an entire department administering classes that didn't exist to hundreds of athletes over more than a decade.
 
The head of that department is likely going to jail.  And so little attention.  
 
AFAM was administering classes that didn't exist to the entirety of campus, not just athletes.  So, yes, it should never have happened, but the only people who keep perpetuating it as an athletics-only issue are bullshit peddlers like Dan Kane and North Carolina State fans, who are butthurt they can't beat us at any athletic competition, especially men's basketball, so they've made it their life's mission to see this turn in to the end of athletics in Chapel Hill.
 
If media, especially the News & Observer, spent one-tenth the ink they've used writing about this to writing about the sexual assault issues at UNC, you know a real newsworthy topic,it would be wonderful and maybe cause some meaningful change.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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So if its true that these athletes are not smarter than a third grader, you're okay with that as long as some other UNC students are also academic frauds?
 

DukeSox

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ESPN OTL now discussing.  http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/
 
And USA Today.
 
 
UNC Chapel Hill is not a coherent undergraduate institution. It's a holding company that provides shared marketing, finance and physical plant services for a group of autonomous departments, which are in turn holding companies for autonomous scholars who teach as they please. This is the only possible explanation for the years-long, wholly undetected operation of the African and Afro-American Studies Department credit fraud scam. Or, rather, it's the only possible explanation other than a huge, organization-wide conspiracy in which the university administration, department, and football team colluded to hand out fake grades to hundreds of athletes.
 
http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/01/13/higher-education-college-university-column/4440369/
 
M

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One might well find similar issues at many universities around the country.  Take this exposé of Bowdoin College, for example, which explores how the values of today's elite schools are shaping a campus culture where nothing of substance, and no standards worthy of the word, are required from the students.  That UNC gets attention is only because of its prominence in sports, not because of its uniqueness.
 
Unless someone wants to explain to me why UNC is sui generis, or such an egregious instance that an example had to be made.
 

DukeSox

Rick Derris
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Because it has athletes that have to adhere to pesky NCAA rules such as going to real live classes.
 
I see you've fallen for Greg29fan's trap of saying "but all students!"
 

Greg29fan

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DukeSox said:
I see you've fallen for Greg29fan's trap of saying "but all students!"
A three-month investigation into academic fraud at the University of North Carolina revealed that not only student-athletes were given added academic benefits within the school's African and Afro-American Studies department.

Rather, students at large benefited from anomalies specific to the department, such as unauthorized grade changes, forged faculty signatures on grade rolls and limited or no class time.

"This was not an athletic scandal," former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin told UNC's board of trustees. "It was an academic scandal, which is worse."
UNC again updated the NCAA enforcement staff on Aug. 23 about the AFAM situation, and the school released a statement a week later that said: "The NCAA staff reaffirmed to university officials that no NCAA rules appeared to have been broken."
It isn't like I pulled it out of my ass. That's the official word from the independent group that investigated it for UNC and the NCAA.

http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/8765672/north-carolina-tar-heels-investigation-reveals-academic-scandal-african-american-studies-department
 
M

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DukeSox said:
Because it has athletes that have to adhere to pesky NCAA rules such as going to real live classes.
 
It also has non-athletes that have to adhere to such standards.  Or, to be more specific, administrators whose jobs depend on the accreditation of their academic quality.  Then there's fraud liability (how many parents paid tuition per-credit-hour for classes that didn't exist?), and so on.
 
That athletics were impacted by this seems almost incidental.  But you're closer to it than I am, maybe you can explain to me why this is really an athletics issue.
 

DukeSox

Rick Derris
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Because it's a forum and thread discussing sports teams at that school and thus it plays into eligibility. UNC won some bball titles recently - did those players take fake classes? Does that impact those title teams? Certainly seem to be a strong % of football/bball players in these AFAM classes compared to their representation as a % of student body as a whole.

Easier to mask gut classes for athletes when you make them open to anyone (not that athlete-only classes are allowed).

Happy to discuss the falling quality/highschoolishness of American colleges in general in V&N.
 

( . ) ( . ) and (_!_)

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Aren't there two separate issues here?
 
1. The department facilitated academic fraud for many students, including atheletes
 
2. There is a group of athletes at the school that read below the third grade level
 
I don't see how they are connected unless there are also students that are non-athletes that took part in the fraud and also cannot read.  Is that also part of this, am I missing something or are these two separate but related issues?
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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It wasn't just athletes but over 50% of students in the suspect classes were athletes. Obviously people in the athletics program knew this department was a joke and channeled their kids there. There may not be NCAA violations but that doesn't mean a ton of people weren't complicit and a ton of people shouldn't be fired. Honestly, this scandal is far worse from an integrity standpoint than most which draw violations. What is worse, Memphis allowing Derrick Rose to play when somebody else took his SATs or UNC having half their team stay eligible through taking classes that didn't even exist?
 
M

MentalDisabldLst

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DukeSox said:
Happy to discuss the falling quality/highschoolishness of American colleges in general in V&N.
 
If you took the link I posted above and started a V&N thread around there, you're guaranteed minimum 3 pages, possibly 10 once Reverend gets into it.  That study summarizes and provides evidence for just about everything that conservatives say is wrong with higher education.  I don't have the heart to get embroiled in that right now, but it would be entertaining to read if you were so inclined.
 
T&A is right that there are two separate issues; the former is an academic issue perhaps better-suited to V&N, and the latter is more of an athletics issue that belongs here.
 

Bernie Carbohydrate

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The "Nonathletes did it too!" defense was deployed by Auburn when it was revealed that a good chunk of the 2004 football team (Undefeated, War Eagle!) took fake sociology courses.  
 
I mean, that's the playbook, right?  Find a poorly-run/compliant academic department, hook up the student athletes, but make sure that non-athletes who are in the know get the same deal.  That way --if discovered-- it becomes an academic problem, not an purely athletic scandal.
 
I'm a big Auburn fan, but I have no illusions -- the Auburn Tigers are a football business loosely affiliated with an academic institution.  UNC folks tend to be cursed with the illusion that they are different, special, or better.  They are not.
 
I suppose we could argue that some programs are completely filthy and others merely quite dirty. Congrats to those of you who follow the merely quite dirty programs.
 

67YAZ

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MentalDisabldLst said:
One might well find similar issues at many universities around the country.  Take this exposé of Bowdoin College, for example, which explores how the values of today's elite schools are shaping a campus culture where nothing of substance, and no standards worthy of the word, are required from the students.  That UNC gets attention is only because of its prominence in sports, not because of its uniqueness.
 
Unless someone wants to explain to me why UNC is sui generis, or such an egregious instance that an example had to be made.
 
The UNC scandal cuts to the core of it's function as an educational institution.  A entire program was engaged in large scale academic fraud for a decade-and-a-half; either there were no procedures in place to monitor the basic educational functions of the university or some in upper administration assisted in a cover up.  In either case, this malfeasance has put the university's academic accreditation under review, which puts UNC's ability to offer degrees in jeopardy.  And even if shutting down UNC entirely seems a very remote possibility - no higher ed accrediting body has ever shuttered an institution anywhere near as large or prestigious - the university is going to be under tremendous scrutiny and pressure in the near future.  Hell, the provost has even been sending out people to stop by classrooms just to ensure that classes are actually happening - http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/chapel-hill-checks-on-its-classes-to-ensure-theyre-real/56335  Good luck to President Ross next time he goes to Raleigh to ask for anything.
 
The Wood & Toscano report is just another volley in the Culture Wars - oh, look, Bowdoin is killing Western Civilization by indoctrinating our youth with all of this fringe/Marxist/homosexual/feminist/yada-yada "scholarship."  Heck, the report was bankrolled by a wealthy Bowdoin donor who felt slighted by the college president - http://chronicle.com/article/National-Association-of/137669/
 

Greg29fan

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DukeSox said:
She wasn't suspended for being a whistleblower (although you did get the blow part right). She was suspended because she's a liar (to the federally-regulated Institutional Research Board), and an incompetent liar at that. The only embarrassing part of this saga is that she was able to get a Masters degree from the UNC system (at UNC-G) and employment at UNC.

https://uncnews.unc.edu/2014/01/17/unc-chapel-hill-leaders-share-facts-willingham-dataset-findings/
 

Orel Miraculous

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Bernie Carbohydrate said:
I'm a big Auburn fan, but I have no illusions -- the Auburn Tigers are a football business loosely affiliated with an academic institution.  UNC folks tend to be cursed with the illusion that they are different, special, or better.  They are not.
 
 
 
I'll never forget my campus tour of UNC (didn't apply, but was looking around the area).  One of the admissions officers gave a spiel to about 50 high schoolers who were about to go the tour and she actually said the words "being good at basketball does not help you get into UNC."  I laughed out loud.
 

Greg29fan

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Orel Miraculous said:
One of the admissions officers gave a spiel to about 50 high schoolers who were about to go the tour and she actually said the words "being good at basketball does not help you get into UNC."
Judging by the basketball team this year she might have been right.
 
M

MentalDisabldLst

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Granting the rest of your post on the subject of UNC...
 
67YAZ said:
The Wood & Toscano report is just another volley in the Culture Wars - oh, look, Bowdoin is killing Western Civilization by indoctrinating our youth with all of this fringe/Marxist/homosexual/feminist/yada-yada "scholarship."  Heck, the report was bankrolled by a wealthy Bowdoin donor who felt slighted by the college president - http://chronicle.com/article/National-Association-of/137669/
 
Both of those things are addressed in the foreword.  You know, basically the very first content page of the report you are acting like you know so much about, and which you clearly haven't read a word of.
 
You may want to read things instead of just knee-jerk condemning them because you don't like their conclusions.  Sometimes, conclusions that run contrary to your preconceived notions can be enlightening.
 

67YAZ

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MentalDisabldLst said:
Granting the rest of your post on the subject of UNC...


Both of those things are addressed in the foreword. You know, basically the very first content page of the report you are acting like you know so much about, and which you clearly haven't read a word of.

You may want to read things instead of just knee-jerk condemning them because you don't like their conclusions. Sometimes, conclusions that run contrary to your preconceived notions can be enlightening.
Good god, you're touchy. Are you Tom Klingestein? Peter Wood? Michael Toscano? A Bowdoin drop out? Someone with an axe to grind against academia?

I have read the report. It was something of a big deal when released, so it deserved attention. The same old partisan, anti-academic dolts would be sure to cite it despite the report being pure pablum. That forward you're so fond of? Written by noted political hack William Bennett. And the whole damn thing is bank rolled by a rich white guy who felt the college president was insufficiently deferential, so he bought himself the veneer of scholarly respectability to legitimize his screed.

But if you can't tell the difference between the content if the Wood & Toscano report and what is happening at UNC, then I wouldn't expect you to grasp this.
 
M

MentalDisabldLst

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I am none of the above, but I'll cop to overreacting and being a bit of a douche, so I'll let this thread resume being about UNC.
 
M

MentalDisabldLst

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TMQ covers the UNC scandal:
 
 
Louisville and Syracuse are amateurs compared to how the University of North Carolina is striving to make itself look terrible. First there was the 2011 scandal regarding fake courses for athletes. The NCAA lowered the boom on a player but only slapped the wrists of the university.
 
After all, the NCAA's policy is that players should be used up and thrown away, while colleges, coaches and athletic staff should roll in money. So fake courses were not in any way offensive to the NCAA. But a player revealing the existence of fake courses -- off with his head!
 
Last month the professor who ran the fake courses was indicted for fraud. What about higher-ups at the university, the deans and the chancellor? In big organizations, the people on top say they should receive ginormous paychecks because the buck stops with them. Then, when something goes wrong, they say they're not responsible. Holden Thorp, who was chancellor when fake courses were being offered at UNC, paid no fines, faced no indictment. He's now provost at Washington University in St. Louis, a cushy job at a top school. Thorp and Petrino ought to get together and have a few laughs.
 
The University of North Carolina's latest move toward the bottom is to lash out at a whistleblower who says many Tar Heels athletes don't read well enough to be qualified for high school, let alone college. Only after trying to blame the messenger did the school agree to investigate: first step in the "investigation" is ordering researcher Mary Willingham to stop discussing her allegations. Maybe the investigation will show the claims of illiterate athletes aren't true. If they are true, will Tar Heels chancellor Carol Folt resign?
 

axx

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Honestly I don't know why schools refuse to give up the charade. Are they really afraid of losing the non-profit status of the NCAA?
 
Honestly I don't know why schools refuse to give up the charade. Are they really afraid of losing the non-profit status of the NCAA?


Any University worth anything is nonprofit. I imagine that if college sports became an officially for profit business then the university would have to drop them for tax purposes.
 

axx

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Skeesix said:
Any University worth anything is nonprofit. I imagine that if college sports became an officially for profit business then the university would have to drop them for tax purposes.
 
I think it's more whether they would be allowed to keep it as a non-profit if they, for instance, allowed players to continue to play without academics getting in the way or even being required to take classes. They could keep the amateurism in place.
 

67YAZ

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axx said:
Honestly I don't know why schools refuse to give up the charade. Are they really afraid of losing the non-profit status of the NCAA?
 
It's a mix of benefits and clout.  The 2 major men's sports bring in millions of dollars, both in direct revenues and alumni contributions; some of that money does go beyond the athletic department.  The major sports also generate massive exposure, which helps with enrollments and general reputation.  And the sports are a major emotional tie for many alums (if I have to hear from my brother-in-law about Northwestern's Rose Bowl run in 1996 one more time...).
 
All of these factors provide significant influence and clout to folks in the athletic department and who have ties or do business with the two major sports.  These folks sit on university boards of trustees, have seats in state legislatures, hold big contracts with universities, write huge checks to endow scholarships and put up buildings.  No university president in the "Power 5" would hold his/her job after even suggesting that men's basketball and football be scaled back.  And really, many university presidents with Div 1 athletics but outside the "Power 5" face constant pressure to make huge investments in football and basketball.  The incentives for having these sports are just too much greater than the possibility of scandals or academic corruption.  
 
So how do you change that balance?  I like Buzz Bissinger's idea:
 
...formally split off into their own entities while retaining a tie to, and even the name of, the school from which they originated. "Create a de facto subsidiary," Bissinger proposed. "The university gets a licensing fee."
 
The players would be paid for participating in what Bissinger said is already "the greatest minor league in the history of the world" -- and would therefore, at least, not be simultaneously "maimed and exploited," as is Gladwell's concern. They would continue to benefit from the life lessons that can be learned from playing the game. Communities could still rally around them, exulting in their wins and mourning their losses. Schools could still financially profit from them, and direct those profits toward other teams and academic departments. And the players would still have the opportunity to parlay their athletic skills into better off-the-field lives, if they were so inclined. Green wondered if players could still attend classes and earn degrees in this scenario.
 
"Players get the option to go to class, if they want to," Bissinger replied. "I bet most wouldn't."


Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/ben_reiter/05/09/ban-college-football-debate/index.html#ixzz2r8upKcNE
 

fairlee76

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Orel Miraculous said:
 
I'll never forget my campus tour of UNC (didn't apply, but was looking around the area).  One of the admissions officers gave a spiel to about 50 high schoolers who were about to go the tour and she actually said the words "being good at basketball does not help you get into UNC."  I laughed out loud.
I toured years ago and got essentially the same spiel.  Along with a lot of platitudes about how "special" and "unique" the UNC experience is.  It was silly.
 

Average Reds

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fairlee76 said:
I toured years ago and got essentially the same spiel.  Along with a lot of platitudes about how "special" and "unique" the UNC experience is.  It was silly.
 
As a parent of two college age kinds, I've gone through these tours on about 40 campuses over the past four years. 
 
With that as context, it's hard to properly emphasize how ridiculously insignificant your point is.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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Skeesix said:
Any University worth anything is nonprofit. I imagine that if college sports became an officially for profit business then the university would have to drop them for tax purposes.
 
That's not remotely true, to the best of my knowledge.  "Non-profit" doesn't mean that a venture can't make money, it means that the made money stays with the organization and can't be taken out for the enrichment of owners.
 
As an example of a non-profit sports organization that pays players, consider the U.S. Soccer Federation.  The players on the men's and women's national teams are paid for each appearance they make.
 

fairlee76

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Average Reds said:
 
As a parent of two college age kinds, I've gone through these tours on about 40 campuses over the past four years. 
 
With that as context, it's hard to properly emphasize how ridiculously insignificant your point is.
Well, I was under the impression that UNC very much cultivates the notion that its athletic programs do things differently (i.e., takes academic achievement seriously) than many other major programs.  In light of the events of the last few years, I think this notion of "doing things the right way" is a nice selling point for alums and those on tours.  But probably does not hold up under scrutiny.
 
You are correct in stating that my one-time anecdote is ridiculously insignificant.
 

Average Reds

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I was responding to the idea that tour guides were saying that UNC is "special" and "unique."  Every university says this.
 
You are 100% correct that any large university who tries to peddle the notion that "they do things the right way" with regard to their sports programs is either smoking crack or blowing smoke up your ass, and UNC is (apparently) just the most recent example of this.
 

Bernie Carbohydrate

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fairlee76 said:
Well, I was under the impression that UNC very much cultivates the notion that its athletic programs do things differently (i.e., takes academic achievement seriously) than many other major programs.  In light of the events of the last few years, I think this notion of "doing things the right way" is a nice selling point for alums and those on tours.  But probably does not hold up under scrutiny.
 
You are correct in stating that my one-time anecdote is ridiculously insignificant.
 
That's where I was with my Auburn comparison.  For years UNC has cultivated an image of the athletic powerhouse that didn't have to cut corners on academic standards (see Dean Smith's oft-cited 96% graduation rate). All schools claim to be special places during campus tours (and I suppose they are special to their alums), but UNC folks are invested in the narrative that while (for example) FSU was cheating its way to success, UNC had higher standards.
 
Meanwhile, Duke's laughter at UNC's misfortune rings hollow; they dodged a bullet with Lance Thomas
 

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Average Reds said:
You are 100% correct that any large university who tries to peddle the notion that "they do things the right way" with regard to their sports programs is either smoking crack or blowing smoke up your as, and UNC is (apparently) just the most recent example of this.
Stanford says hi.
 
 
That's not remotely true, to the best of my knowledge.  "Non-profit" doesn't mean that a venture can't make money, it means that the made money stays with the organization and can't be taken out for the enrichment of owners.
 
As an example of a non-profit sports organization that pays players, consider the U.S. Soccer Federation.  The players on the men's and women's national teams are paid for each appearance they make.


I agree they could pay players but that wasn't the point I was responding to.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Universities routinely pay taxes on revenues that are viewed as "non-academic."  There's a whole body of tax code about "unrelated business taxable income" (UBTI) for non-profits.  Basically, an activity that is outside the scope of the mission of the non-profit is taxable.  If, for example, a university were to acquire 100% of a manufacturing company, it could not avoid paying taxes on that company' profits by virtue of the university's tax-exempt status.  It was not uncommon for universities to own such businesses as parts of their endowments before Congress created the concept of UBTI in the 1950s.  The NYU law school used to own the entire Mueller pasta company, to cite one well known example.  It was a significant source of revenue for the school and paid no tax.  Governments didn't like losing out on this revenue and competitors didn't like competing with somebody who had a big cost advantage in not paying taxes.
 
What complicates the matter is that the line between what is inside the scope and what is outside the scope of a non-profit is not always clear.  Universities can operate book stores or gift shops, for example.  If they are selling books to student or logowear to alumni, that's tax exempt, as I understand it.  If they're selling stuff to the public that you could buy at any store (cosmetics or Ralph Lauren scarves or whatever), that's taxable.  My alma mater has a golf course on campus.  The income from students playing there is tax-exempt, but income from rounds played by the general public is taxable.
 
Because of reasons of tradition, university athletics are seen as being within the scope of the university's educational mission.  You are teaching these "amateur" kids about teamwork and dedication and stuff like that, I suppose, and college sports did originally evolve as a ground-up student activity, long before the days of highly paid professional athletes.  If universities were to unilaterally say "these guys aren't students, they are employees" the IRS would immediately say "running a professional sports team is no different from running a pasta company" and it would tax the income.  Carolina paying its players would be no different than the owner of the Carolina Panthers donating his team to the school, in the eyes of the IRS.
 
In addition to the loss of tax-exempt status paying athletes would entail, there's probably also a Pandora's Box of which athletes get paid.  Obviously, men's football and men's basketball are the only real revenue generating sports at most schools, so do you just pay those guys?  But doing so would probably expose you to Title IX problems, which athletics departments already hate.
 
The system works just fine right now as far as most universities are concerned.  They're allowed to run these big businesses that make money tax free, keep alumni happy and connected to their schools, and serve as great branding for their schools.  The only real cost is the occasional scandal, which generally blow over after a year or two and which most alums and fans are happy to forget ASAP.  The schools may have no integrity and they may chew up and spit out a bunch of young men who have no skills when their eligibility is up, but nobody really cares about those guys anyway and most universities have been happy to trade their integrity away for a better record on the field.  And schools basically have the choice to participate in this scheme or not.  Yale and the University of Chicago used to be big football powers.  Those institutions have chosen to maintain all (Chicago) or most (Ivy League schools, where athletic recruiting is still controversial) of their integrity with regard to sports.  UNC and Penn State and most other Division I schools have made a different choice.
 
The only way this changes is for Congress to decide that these programs are de facto pro sports and to tax them.  The NCAA and its members will never do it unilaterally.  But every Congressman has an alma mater and many of their voters do too, so that's not very likely either.
 

Average Reds

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Philip Jeff Frye said:
Universities routinely pay taxes on revenues that are viewed as "non-academic."  There's a whole body of tax code about "unrelated business taxable income" (UBTI) for non-profits.  Basically, an activity that is outside the scope of the mission of the non-profit is taxable.  If, for example, a university were to acquire 100% of a manufacturing company, it could not avoid paying taxes on that company' profits by virtue of the university's tax-exempt status.  It was not uncommon for universities to own such businesses as parts of their endowments before Congress created the concept of UBTI in the 1950s.  The NYU law school used to own the entire Mueller pasta company, to cite one well known example.  It was a significant source of revenue for the school and paid no tax.  Governments didn't like losing out on this revenue and competitors didn't like competing with somebody who had a big cost advantage in not paying taxes.
 
What complicates the matter is that the line between what is inside the scope and what is outside the scope of a non-profit is not always clear.  Universities can operate book stores or gift shops, for example.  If they are selling books to student or logowear to alumni, that's tax exempt, as I understand it.  If they're selling stuff to the public that you could buy at any store (cosmetics or Ralph Lauren scarves or whatever), that's taxable.  My alma mater has a golf course on campus.  The income from students playing there is tax-exempt, but income from rounds played by the general public is taxable.
 
Because of reasons of tradition, university athletics are seen as being within the scope of the university's educational mission.  You are teaching these "amateur" kids about teamwork and dedication and stuff like that, I suppose, and college sports did originally evolve as a ground-up student activity, long before the days of highly paid professional athletes.  If universities were to unilaterally say "these guys aren't students, they are employees" the IRS would immediately say "running a professional sports team is no different from running a pasta company" and it would tax the income.  Carolina paying its players would be no different than the owner of the Carolina Panthers donating his team to the school, in the eyes of the IRS.
 
In addition to the loss of tax-exempt status paying athletes would entail, there's probably also a Pandora's Box of which athletes get paid.  Obviously, men's football and men's basketball are the only real revenue generating sports at most schools, so do you just pay those guys?  But doing so would probably expose you to Title IX problems, which athletics departments already hate.
 
The system works just fine right now as far as most universities are concerned.  They're allowed to run these big businesses that make money tax free, keep alumni happy and connected to their schools, and serve as great branding for their schools.  The only real cost is the occasional scandal, which generally blow over after a year or two and which most alums and fans are happy to forget ASAP.  The schools may have no integrity and they may chew up and spit out a bunch of young men who have no skills when their eligibility is up, but nobody really cares about those guys anyway and most universities have been happy to trade their integrity away for a better record on the field.  And schools basically have the choice to participate in this scheme or not.  Yale and the University of Chicago used to be big football powers.  Those institutions have chosen to maintain all (Chicago) or most (Ivy League schools, where athletic recruiting is still controversial) of their integrity with regard to sports.  UNC and Penn State and most other Division I schools have made a different choice.
 
The only way this changes is for Congress to decide that these programs are de facto pro sports and to tax them.  The NCAA and its members will never do it unilaterally.  But every Congressman has an alma mater and many of their voters do too, so that's not very likely either.
 
I have a nuanced disagreement with this.
 
If a school were to say that athletes playing under the school's banner were not students, then we are in absolute agreement.  No way they could claim that any profits from that specific team could be sheltered under the non-profit designation of the university.
 
But the reality is that I cannot imagine that we would ever get to the point where the athletes playing for a large university would not also be students.  And if they were, paying them would be no different that paying the student who works in the cafeteria, or the library, or at the bookstore, etc.  And any profits generated by the sport would be used to subsidize the non-revenue generating sports and/or returned to the university's general fund, so any "profit" would go to serve the mission of the institution.
 
Title IX is a bit trickier, but the implementation of this would depend entirely on the amount that the student-athletes were being paid.  (And would necessarily limit the amount of the stipend paid to the players.)  In any case, I'm guessing that an offset would be created in the women's athletics department to keep the school in compliance.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Oct 23, 2001
7,207
Average Reds said:
 
But the reality is that I cannot imagine that we would ever get to the point where the athletes playing for a large university would not also be students.  And if they were, paying them would be no different that paying the student who works in the cafeteria, or the library, or at the bookstore, etc.
 
This is a good point, but I think your idea would not stand up to IRS scrutiny.  There's a lot of disagreement between universities and the IRS over exactly what activities fall within the scope of UBTI.  As I understand it, IRS auditors get into disputes with university bureaucrats (imagine being in that meeting!) over these issues all the time, disputes that sometimes end up in court.  For example, a museum gift store can sell items without generating UBTI if those items are directly related to the museum's mission.  A natural history museum with dinosaurs can sell earrings in the shape of dinosaurs and not pay tax.  But if it sells other earrings that have nothing to do with the museum, that's taxable.  Where exactly do these lines get drawn?  Can the museum sell diamond earrings tax free if it has a display on geology?  This is the sort of thing that the IRS argues with non-profits about.
 
I think if you start paying the athletes, then the IRS is going to ask if a big time athletic program is really within the scope of a school's academic mission.  Its going to start auditing whether or not the athletes are really students - you can imagine how universities are not going to want to defend themselves on those issues, especially against somebody with subpoena  powers.  It is often the case that when something changes in a business, the IRS questions what is being done and what are the tax implications.  A high profile change in a multi-billion dollar industry like deciding to pay athletes would almost certainly invite scrutiny that colleges are not going to want.
 
Average Reds said:
 
And any profits generated by the sport would be used to subsidize the non-revenue generating sports and/or returned to the university's general fund, so any "profit" would go to serve the mission of the institution.
On this point, I virtually certain that this would not matter.  The point is not whether the "profit" is used to serve a non-profit's mission, the point is whether the "profit" is generated as a consequence of that mission.  I mentioned the college golf course above.  When I was a student thirty years ago, my college did not let the general public play there, but in the 1990s, an era of budget cuts, somebody said, "Hey, we've got this great golf course that people would pay a lot of money to use - we should take advantage of that to help solve our budget problems."  Even though the golf course income helps pay for the college's operating costs the college still needs to pay tax on this "unrelated"  income.  If the IRS decided that the football and/or basketball programs were UBTI generators, the tax would be due whether or not those profits are subsidizing other sports or other university activities.
 

DukeSox

Rick Derris
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2005
11,257
The signs write themselves for the UNC @ Duke game this year.  Hopefully K doesn't do something stupid like tell students not to rip on UNC's cheating.
 
University of No Classes
 

DukeSox

Rick Derris
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2005
11,257
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-02-04/unc-academic-fraud-scandal-sparks-racial-recriminations#r=lr-sr
 
 
In a statement dated Feb. 1, the Carolina Black Caucus,  a campus group, declared: “We stand united for black Americans, both enslaved and free, who built this university and who were also barred from its doors.” The caucus added that it stands united for “black athletes who face stereotype, threat, and are targets of ridicule”; “the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies, which has been unfairly attacked, overly investigated, and whose legitimacy has been repeatedly questioned”; [and] “courageous administrators, faculty, staff, and students who press on despite impatience, media inaccuracies, gossip, and public attacks on our institution.”
 

Fred in Lynn

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Jan 3, 2013
4,370
Not Lynn (or Ocean Side)
DukeSox said:
The Caucus is doing some serious key jingling over here to attempt and distract the observer from what's going on over there. The way in which they can issue a statement that wholly ignores the fact that fraudulent classes existed has a special momentum to it, like a pyroclastic flow to Pompeii. It seems they should seek to resolve the shortcomings of the Department's past actions before they ring the bells of racial injustice if they care to receive support from anyone other than their own group.
 

DukeSox

Rick Derris
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2005
11,257
how can the ncaa say "no violations"?  the atmosphere there is f'd if that article is to be believed