UNC's McCants: 'Just show up, play'

He acknowledged the difficult times at UNC when he spoke with "Outside the Lines," but spoke fondly about his time there overall. He discussed his suspect college education, describing himself as self-educated, and talked generally about how student athletes are treated at major sports programs. He spoke from memory without referring to his transcript. While he remembered most details correctly in terms of his transcript, he got other details incorrect, such as saying he had made the Dean's List twice instead of once.

"Outside the Lines" contacted or attempted to contact other players, and tutors and advisers from the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, but all either didn't respond or declined to comment.

Mary Willingham, a former UNC learning specialist who is often described as a whistleblower about the UNC academic fraud scandal, said she believes McCants' allegations.

"What he is saying absolutely lines up with what I have found: tutors writing papers for players, and advisers and tutors steering players to AFAM," she said. "I think the coaches knew about the paper class system. Of course they did.

"The system will only change when our athletes have a voice and begin to step forward, and that's what Rashad is doing. It was the adults who failed the athletes."

Doherty said Friday that "I did not see any problems while I was at UNC as a player or a coach. I feel sorry for Rashad. He has had a lot of ups and downs during his career. If there are any issues, I trust that Bubba Cunningham and the university will get to the bottom of it."

Willingham said she and other colleagues openly discussed their concerns about the African-American Studies  paper class system in 2006, the same year The New York Times  published an investigation about an independent studies scandal at Auburn. By 2007, Willingham said basketball players had started moving away from paper classes, and by 2009, when the basketball program hired a new academic adviser, the UNC paper-class system had all-but ended.

McCants said he's coming forward now because he is concerned about the future.

"It's about my kids, about your kids. It's about their kids. It's about knowing the education that I received and knowing that something needs to change," he said. "This has nothing to do with the Carolina fans or the Carolina program. It has everything to do with the system, and Carolina just so happened to be a part of the system and they participated in the system, so in retrospect, you have to look at it and say, 'Hey, you know what you did wrong.'

"Stand up. It's time for everybody to really just be accountable."

He said he is prepared for a backlash from UNC fans.

"If there are Carolina fans that don't like what's I'm saying and don't like what's happening right now, they need to look in the mirror, see that it's a bigger picture," he said. "... I'm putting my life on the line for the younger generation right now, and I know that nobody else wants to step up and speak out because everybody's afraid, fear, submission, especially the black athletes ... 

"College was a great experience, but looking back at it, now it's almost a tragedy because I spent a lot of my time in a class I didn't do anything in."

Producer Dave Lubbers of ESPN's Enterprise and Investigative Unit, and ESPN senior writers Andy Katz and Jeff Goodman contributed to this report.

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