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The Daily Tar Heel

A football fiasco: When athletics compromises its integrity, it compromises the University's as well

The more information is revealed regarding the investigation into UNC’s football program by the NCAA and the University, the more betrayed we feel. Last Thursday’s press conference hardly helped allay our concerns.

“It’s a privilege to put on the North Carolina uniform and represent this university,” Chancellor Holden Thorp said.

We agree that one cannot possibly extricate academics and athletics from the integrity and prestige our institution enjoys. And we are glad that Thorp appears to agree.

But the investigation is growing, not shrinking. What is really needed is resolution. And that means anything less than the utmost cooperation and honesty by those involved in the investigation is unacceptable in going forward.

It is a shame when student-athletes violate NCAA rules. But academic misconduct strikes at the heart of the University. It threatens the value of everyone’s education. Sadly, such misconduct is too common in athletic programs — one of the most public facets of an institution.

UNC’s football program has enjoyed steadily growing prestige of late. It hosted its first Thursday night game last year. Kenan Stadium is getting a face-lift. Rankings have been high. And perhaps this fueled a sense of hubris. Unfortunately, the entire community has to pay the price for this helping of humble pie.

It is often forgotten these days, but we call people student-athletes and not athlete-students for a reason. We’re all students first, and we are a part of the same community. And believe it or not, we are bound to the same standards.

So while Thursday night’s revelations resolved nothing, it was at least encouraging to see that the severity of this situation registered with our leaders. To see Chancellor Thorp flanked by coach Butch Davis and athletic director Dick Baddour made that clear.

But let’s be clear ourselves: Good intentions are insufficient. The fact that there is a need for an investigation at all is shameful. And whoever is responsible — players, coaches or both — must suffer consequences.

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