CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams told ESPN's Jay Bilas that he was in "shock" and "disbelief" when he learned former guard Rashad McCants had told "Outside the Lines" that tutors wrote his term papers, he rarely went to class for about half his time at UNC and he remained able to play largely because he took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible.
In a 35-minute, on-camera interview Saturday that was attended by 11 former UNC basketball players as a show of support, Williams said the experiences McCants shared did not match what he knows about his players' academic efforts and records and the basketball program he oversees.
"Every one of those players that are sitting over there and every player I've had make me feel like they did their work, and we emphasize that and we push them towards that all the time," Williams said.
Several former players who attended the interview but did not wish to speak on camera echoed Williams' points and vehemently disagreed with McCants' allegations and descriptions of being an athlete at UNC.
The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer reported Saturday evening that McCants was not the only member of the 2005 team who relied on the bogus classes. The newspaper said that data it had obtained show that "five members of that team, including at least four key players, accounted for a combined 39 enrollments in classes that have been identified as confirmed or suspected lecture classes that never met." No player earned less than a B in any of the enrollments, according to the report.
In his ESPN interview, Williams did not directly answer a question about McCants' allegation that he believed Williams knew "100 percent" about the sham or paper-class system at UNC. Those classes, in the African-American studies program and popular with athletes, did not require students to attend class but did require one term paper to be submitted by semester's end.
"First of all, how does anybody know what somebody else believes, but I know what I believe," Williams said, before discussing his understanding of what the so-called paper classes were. "I thought that meant that a class was on paper but it didn't really exist, and then come to find out people are using that terminology 'paper classes' to signify independent study courses that you do papers. ... I've been told by people that some of those are really, really good. It shows a lot of discipline because you're self-directed. If my players took independent study courses that were offered by this university for a reason that the university thought they were valuable, my players, if they took those courses, did the work, and I'm proud of that part of it."
McCants also had told "Outside the Lines" that he was possibly headed toward ineligibility during the 2004-05 national championship season because he had failed algebra and psychology, which accounted for half his credits, in the fall of 2004. He had two A's in African-American studies classes in addition to the F's.