Little over a year ago the University of North Carolina threw one of its own on the altar of the NCAA, firing head football coach Butch Davis after the school was penalized for, among other things, improper benefits and academic violations. Having dispensed with Davis, the school sought to turn the page. On Friday, The Charlotte Observer published a story indicating the school was hesitant to dig any deeper than the Butch Davis Era, despite evidence indicating the misconduct reached further back than Butch Davis.
It appears UNC is at it again and, as is typical with NCAA violations, the big loser here is a player: former UNC standout and current Chicago Bears star Julius Peppers. According to a North Carolina State message board on Scout.com, a 2001 "test" transcript alluded to in The Observer story (a more complete version than the one linked on Scout is available on CBS), which UNC claims is used to "help students and advisers use a computer program that tells them what courses a student still needs to graduate," actually belongs to Julius Peppers (UNC has since wiped the page, you can find the transcripts here and here). It is a mess. Both the "test" transcript and Peppers's show a student with a 1.84 GPA. The test transcript majored in African and Afro-American studies. The Peppers transcript shows the majority of his classes were African and Afro-American (AFAM) classes.
The Observer article notes the test transcript shows the student took an AFAM seminar in 2001 and received an A. Peppers transcript shows a 2001 AFAM seminar, yet no grade. The article also mentions the test student took three Independent Studies courses (and was registered for a fourth) in 2001 and received a B or better in each. Peppers transcript shows he received B's in two Independent Studies courses in 2001. He also received a B+ in a 2000 Independent Studies course.
Peppers's agent, Carl Carey was also his academic adviser while at UNC and helped him get a re-test on a failing grade that would have ruled him academically ineligible. In an article previously published on ESPN, Tom Friend relays a story how Carey helped Peppers fight a failing grade in a class—Drama 15—that would have ruled him academically ineligible in Peppers's freshman year. The test transcript showed a D, after an initial F in 1998 fall semester, what would have been Peppers's freshman year.
Despite some inconsistencies (Peppers' birthday is January 18, 1980 and the test transcript's is listed as February 18, 1980, for instance) It seems safe to assume that the test transcript is actually Julius Peppers's transcript. None of this is shocking, a two sport athlete struggling (or not even trying) to keep up with his academics is hardly news. More interesting is why UNC would try to pass off a high profile, terrible student/great athlete's transcript is a question well worth asking, but there it is. If the theory is that the school is desperately trying to limit the scrutiny to one man—Butch Davis—using Peppers's transcript is either the height of naivete or incompetency.
Maybe the school is offering up Julius Peppers as a sacrificial lamb, hoping to take its lumps and move on for good. If that's the case, it's the best argument we've had against the hypocrisy of the NCAA. The guy has been out of school for over a decade and now the school leaves breadcrumbs to his transcript to clear what is essentially red tape all the while making Peppers look like some ingrate (you can hear the objections now: "he was getting a free education and did not take advantage of it!"). Read the Friend profile, though. Peppers comes off like a good kid with a crazy workload and a million people in his ear.
Or maybe UNC just accidentally made a student's transcript visible to the entire internet. Wish my school did that, I've got to give my social security number and 35 bucks every time I want a copy of mine.