Opinion: College sports deserve to be made ethical

We are proud. Our North Carolina Tar Heels have had an amazing tournament run, giving this community life.

Our memories, as always, mark and make this history. Your time on Franklin Street this semester — deafening chants, the smell of fires and the crystallization of a giant community suddenly and harmoniously showing itself — etches this history into a collective consciousness of now.

We felt that when we beat Duke, when we advanced to the title game and almost again last night.

We are proud to be Tar Heels. Those feelings, and memories, are worth protecting and preserving.

But for the last few years at UNC, and in this nation, loving college athletics has not been easy.

As much as coaches and administrators (even our beloved Coach Roy Williams) would like to ignore it, our university committed fraud and embarrassed itself by administering fake classes and siphoning athletes toward them.

Even Jan Boxill, a professor of sports ethics, administered fake classes.

But UNC didn’t operate in a vacuum. This scandal ultimately happened because colleges administer professional sports teams but won’t admit it because doing so would blow up the myth of amateurism — a myth that allows us to exploit the labor of athletes.

The NCAA, which could address these systemic issues, continues to act with purposeful stupidity in defending a regressive status quo. That structure creates a space for the wrongheaded actions that UNC took.

This all came to a climax with the release of the Wainstein report in fall 2014. This report painted an image of what the two decades of fraud and lies looked like. It was the University admitting to a problem but never fully accepting the weight of the blame.

We have written in the past on ideas for solutions, and there are many more ideas besides ours.

But it should be said again: Our college athletics damaged this university.

The departure of Chancellor Holden Thorp, the public relations scandals that followed and whatever sanctions might come have been real costs.

And in the same breath, we should also know this: College athletics help to make this university great.

After last night we must realize that this team, and sports in general, continues to be a cultural institutions that do incredible things.

Memories like this do not happen everywhere.

But, in order to keep this, we must actively look to address these real issues. If we do not take the time to fix the problems of college sports, we will go on tolerating lies and exploitation.

Ignoring and allowing these problems stains and erodes the greatness of sports. It stains and erodes our memories and our history.

We do not want to have to explain the greatness of this season with a prelude first on the issues in college sports.

Instead, let us look them in the eye and fix them. UNC can lead these efforts.

We are proud to be Tar Heels. As a community and university, let us continue to address the problems of college athletics so we never have to express that belief with doubts in our hearts.

Thanks for reading.

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