Two former University of North Carolina athletes have filed a lawsuit against the school and the NCAA in the wake of a far-reaching athletics scandal, alleging that they were deprived of a high-class education because of substandard courses.
Basketball player Rashanda McCants and football player Devon Ramsay are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which seeks to become a class action, which lawyers from Hausfeld LLP filed in Durham County Superior Court on Thursday. The former student athletes argue that so-called “paper classes” at the university, which apparently were designed for students to pass easily, deprived athletes of the education they were promised.
“This case arises out of the NCAA and UNC’s abject failure to safeguard and provide a meaningful education to the scholarship athletes who agreed to attend UNC — and take the field — in exchange for academically sound instruction,” the lawsuit begins.
For years at the university, according to a comprehensive report commissioned by UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt, who took office in 2013, more than 3,000 students took “paper classes” which apparently had minimal or no teaching and extremely generous grading for assignments that took little effort. Many of the students were student athletes at the Division I school.
The lawsuit accuses the NCAA of negligence, claiming that the organization knew of instances of academic fraud in member schools’ athletic programs yet failed to provide adequate monitoring. It alleges breach of contract against the university for not providing “academically sound classes with legitimate educational instruction.”
“The NCAA and UNC broke these promises and breached their duties to student-athletes in spectacular fashion,” according to the lawsuit. “From 1989 to 2011, under the supervision and regulation of the NCAA, UNC steered hundreds of college athletes into sham “paper classes” that they were not required to attend, that required little to no work, that were not taught by a faculty member, and that involved no interaction with a faculty member. … This academic debacle, at one of the nation’s finest public universities, could not have come as a surprise to the NCAA.”
The former athletes also take a swipe at the NCAA in general, arguing that the UNC case is an example of how college athletics is more about money than higher education.
“UNC’s bogus classes once again reveal the great hypocrisy of college athletics in America,” the lawsuit said. “The NCAA and its member schools insist that their mission and purpose is to educate and to prevent the exploitation of college athletes. Yet it is the schools, the conferences, and the NCAA that are engaging in exploitation, subverting the educational mission in the service of the big business of college athletics — and then washing their hands of college athletes once they have served their purpose.”
Donald Remy, chief legal officer for the NCAA, declined to comment.
“We have not yet been notified of the lawsuit filed in North Carolina court today,” Remy said in a statement. “Because we have not seen the filing, we have no comment.”
Rick White, associate vice chancellor of communications and public affairs at UNC, also declined to comment: “We have not seen the lawsuit, therefore we have no comment at this time.”
Read the complaint here: UNC Complaint (Filed Copy 1-22-15)