McAdoo Suit Says He Didn't Get Education UNC Promised

Michael McAdoo ’12, who was removed from the UNC football program in the early stages of the University’s athletics-academics case, is suing Carolina for not providing him with the education it promised.

McAdoo’s complaint is centered on the report of independent investigator Kenneth Wainstein, who has outlined a scheme in which an office assistant in the former department of African and Afro-American studies created a series of term-paper-only classes that enabled athletes and others to get high grades for little work and without the benefit of faculty lectures. Athletes accounted for 47.6 percent of enrollments in the fake classes.

“UNC coaches and other representatives enticed these football student-athletes to sign the agreements with promises of a legitimate UNC education, which is widely regarded as one of the best public university educations available in the United States,” the complaint reads. “UNC, however, did not provide the promised legitimate education. Instead, UNC systematically funneled its football student-athletes into a ‘shadow curriculum’ of bogus courses which never met and which were designed for the sole purpose of providing enrollees high grades.”

The complaint went on to say that the University “in this manner” maximized athlete eligibility while making a substantial profit off the performance of its athletes.

Rick White, associate vice chancellor for communications and public affairs for UNC, issued a statement: “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill became aware Friday of the lawsuit filed by former student Michael McAdoo. The University will reserve further comment until we’ve had the opportunity to fully review the claims.”

In January 2014, McAdoo told The News & Observer that he had been steered to four of the classes by academic advisers, and he called his education “a scam.”

The term “shadow curriculum” is Wainstein’s, and it describes the paper class scheme perpetrated by Deborah Crowder ’75 and known to academic counselors for athletes who steered them to the courses — and known to some degree by many others on campus.

The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Greensboro is a class action, which, if allowed by the courts, could apply “on behalf of all persons who attended UNC on football scholarships between 1993 and 2011,” the years Wainstein said the paper class scheme was operated.

The complaint, which seeks a jury trial, reiterates other points from Wainstein’s report, such as his finding that academic counselors warned football coaches that their players had better take advantage of the paper classes before Crowder retired.

McAdoo was ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA in 2010 after a tutor was found to have given him improper assistance with written assignments. When he sued to try to get his eligibility back, a paper he had written for a class became public and revealed instances of plagiarism.

After former Gov. James Martin finished his investigation into the issues in 2012, he said that, if not for that revelation, the academic fraud might never have broken into the open.

UNC lost an appeal to have the NCAA reinstate McAdoo to play, and McAdoo subsequently lost his suit against the University.

The complaint says McAdoo graduated high school with a 2.9 GPA and was student council president at Antioch High School in Nashville, Tenn. It says that during recruiting, then-Coach Butch Davis told members of McAdoo’s family, “I can’t guarantee that Michael will play in the NFL, but one thing I can guarantee is that he will get a good education at The University of North Carolina.”

McAdoo was on a full athletic scholarship. The complaint states that he grew up in a household that could not have afforded to put him through a school such as UNC.

It says further that he realized soon after arriving in Chapel Hill in 2008 that his academic options were limited — he was interested in studying criminal justice and said that “once on campus he was told that football student-athletes were urged to consider only three options for a major: Exercise Sport Science, Communications, or African-American Studies.” McAdoo said he was told that work in other majors would not accommodate his practice and playing schedule.

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