Jun 13, 2014 11:45 AM EDT
UNC Academic Scandal: Former Utah Economics Student Claims He Did Homework for Several Student-Athletes
When Rashad McCants admitted to taking paper classes at UNC - Chapel Hill and allowing tutors to do his classwork, it surprised many people, but a certain former University of Utah (UOU) student.
In a first-person piece for Vice.com, Michael Abu (which he says on his website is short for Abouzelof) wrote about his experiences as a UOU economics tutor. In 2007, he was working toward a degree in radical economics when he did a football player's homework for the first time.
CLICK HERE to read the full piece on Vice.com, but be warned, it contains strong language.
Abu wrote that the school was paying him "just enough for a pint and a bagel" to help students with their economics homework. Students in need gave the school $10 for a slip, which Abu received, filled out and returned for a paycheck. His rate was $6.25 per hour and the school kept the other $3.75 from the session.
UOU's football team plays in the Division I Pac-12 "power conference" and one day, a member of that team came to Abu for a tutoring session.
"His tutoring slips were covered by his athletic scholarship, so the slips didn't have any monetary value to him," Abu wrote. "Because of this, he was more than willing to give me three hours worth of tutoring slips if I'd just do his homework. After all, it would take 15 minutes for me to do it myself, versus the two hours it would take me to explain the [work] to him."
Abu said this continued for the rest of the semester and he "became the go-to tutor for jocks." He was doing work for mostly introductory courses, so he would purposefully answer some questions wrong so all the football players were turning in immaculate assignments. Still, Abu said the players who he did homework for ended up getting A's at he end of the semester.
"I made more money than I would have otherwise while helping them stay in good academic standing with the school, effectively keeping them on the field. If the university knew about it, they would have probably reacted negatively in public," Abu wrote. "But I have no doubt that those athletes making it to a bowl game were far more important to the school's administration than making sure they understood marginal rates of transformation."
Mary Willingham has been labeled the official whistleblower for fraudulent "paper classes" at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. A year ago, she told CNN the school's African American Studies dept. was creating classes that catered to basketball and football athletes that only required one term paper for a final grade.
Last week, former Tar Heel Rashad McCants told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" to taking four paper classes in a semester, which consequently got him on the Dean's List. He also claimed his coach, Roy Williams, knew that several players were also taking these classes.
As Abu claims, school administrators at UOU and elsewhere are aware academic fraud is taking place. He said he saw what he was doing as practicing capitalism.
"The highest paid public employees in most states are either football or basketball coaches," Abu wrote. "They're not stupid people. They know what form of success the universities are looking for. So the argument that the athletes I helped cheat were taking advantage of public tax dollars is a moot point when you consider how much these coaches are paid."
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