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October 11, 2012

Williams addresses academics

During North Carolina's Media Day for men's basketball on Thursday, head coach Roy Williams was questioned by Raleigh News and Observer reporter Dan Kane about some of the academic courses that the Raleigh paper has written about recently implicating UNC basketball in an academic scandal.

The latest commentary has been related to a Naval Sciences course that was taken by multiple UNC players in the spring of 2007, including former All-American Tyler Hansbrough, but Coach Williams and the University's basketball SID, Steve Kirschner, reiterated that there was absolutely nothing wrong with those players taking that particular course.

"This is not old news because it's news every day, so I'm not trying to belittle it," said Coach Williams. "I've made so many statements about what I think is going on. We've made some mistakes and it's a sad time, but I feel great about what we've done academically since the first day I walked in here. And not as a student, but as a coach."

"There's nothing wrong with basketball players taking a Naval Science class. That was open to all students," added Kirschner. "The Naval ROTC encouraged non-majors to take that class. Basketball players took that class. Other students took that class. There's nothing wrong with that. For that to have been in that story, we don't think that was appropriate."

Coach Williams was self-depricating when talking about his own academic career, but continued to express supreme confidence in the way he and his coaching staffs and players have handled academics throughout his 20-plus years as a head coach.

"As a student, I wasn't a Marvin Williams. Marvin Williams went to school here a whole year and never cut a class. I did cut a class. But as a coach I feel very comfortable with what we've done and the emphasis that I've put on academics," he said.

"And again, I've answered, I've said thousands of times---that's an exaggeration, several times---that the investigation has brought up some things that we're not proud of, that we're not happy about, but I think it's a very small problem that we've got to take care of. And I think we are doing that."

"But to answer your question, I'm sort of tired of answering those questions. I think I've made a statement every time that we've tried to do everything the right way, and I'd just rather leave it at that."

"Maybe guys, girls decided not to take certain classes. Again, for me I'm extremely proud---extremely proud---of what we've done academically."

When pressed about the nature of the Naval Science class and the fact that so many players were advised to take it, Coach Williams made a statement that should make a lot of sense to any rational person thinking objectively on the topic.

Since when did a basketball coach or a reporter have say in what makes for an appropriate college class?

After all, isn't that the professor's job?

"I don't make anything of it (the structure of the class) because I wasn't the Professor. It's the same thing in college basketball. Some people watch tape six hours a week with their team. I watch tape six hours a month with my team," he said.

"I don't know what the professor's deal was, but if he felt like he was teaching somebody something, and they were learning what he wanted, then he must have felt good about doing it that way. Just like me. I feel good about teaching," Williams added.

"I feel comfortable. Let me just say this. I feel comfortable with it."

Expressing just how comfortable he is talking about the whole situation, Williams discussed the fact that Hansbrough told him about the Naval Sciences class, and the fact that he probably would have taken a similar class had it been available during his time at UNC in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"I do remember Tyler Hansbrough telling me about that course. I would have loved to have taken that course. When I was taking anatomy, physiology, and testing measurements all in the same semester, I would have loved to have taken something like that," Williams said.

"And I don't think it's an aberration that people go to take a course that they think might be interesting. I didn't really care if I had a 2.7 or a 2.6 (GPA). I just wanted something that might be interesting."

"One of the best courses I had at this University was a guidance counseling class, and it was a participation class and role playing, and we didn't have to test," Williams continued. "I had an advisor here that he didn't even know who I was."

Expecting every college in the country to be subject to an NCAA investigation based on how a professor decides to teach his or her class is a very slippery slope.

And that might be the simplest explanation as to why the governing body hasn't been back to Chapel Hill regarding this matter.

Despite the sensationalism of some in the media---and what some might even call a witch hunt---Williams was professional and succinct in defending his program and his alma mater.

"The bottom line is, and I'm not going to talk about this anymore. It hasn't been fair in my mind," Williams said.

"I feel great about what we've done academically and what we've emphasized academically throughout my entire career. I shouldn't have said just since I walked on this campus. I felt pretty doggone good about it when I was at Kansas, too."

"And I feel great about the University of North Carolina. I think we need to start understanding that this is a fantastic school and we've made mistakes and we've said that a hundred times, but let's go on."


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