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Criticism of McCants ripped by UNC professor, Wayne Walden’s name mentioned again

Jul 13, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT

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Last weekend, Rashad McCants went on Sirius XM and told Mark Packer’s radio show that he would be getting $310 million in checks from the NCAA and North Carolina after his very public comments regarding North Carolina’s reignited academic scandal.

That came on the heels of a pair of appearances on ESPN’s Outside The Lines trumpeting the same story: he had a completely fraudulent 4.0 GPA during North Carolina’s run to the 2005 national title, and it’s an example of everything that is wrong with college athletics framing their players as “student”-athletes.

His comments on Packer’s show went viral, and as you might imagine, generated quite a bit of response from other former Tar Heels. Players that starred under Dean Smith four decades ago ripped McCants to Yahoo Sports, while Antawn Jamison called McCants a “clown”.

That apparently rankled UNC history professor Jay Smith, who is writing a book called, “Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports”, because he let loose with a vitriolic rant in an email to Yahoo’s Pat Forde. Smith discusses the lack of McCants’ former teammates that have been willing to allow their transcripts to be made public and points out that Ken Wainstein, the independent investigator looking into the scandal, will have access to those transcripts.

He also makes a point to say that McCants’ unwillingness to talk to the NCAA or UNC is evidence that he’s uninterested in getting the school punished as much as he is concerned with making a change to the future of how college sports operates.

But his most interesting comments have to do with Wayne Walden, a character whose name popped up in this scandal two years ago. From Forde’s story:

“When Roy Williams came here from Kansas, he brought with him the team academic counselor who had served him so well at Kansas: Wayne Walden,” Smith wrote. “He regarded Walden as such a vital contributor to the good fortunes of his teams that he was practically moved to tears when Walden departed in 2009. Walden knew every detail about the academic lives of those players; he had to. He registered them for their courses, for crying out loud. [And that means he got on the phone with the Department of African and Afro-American Studies and he put them in paper classes.] Walden also spoke with Williams every day; he had to. Williams’ claim that he had no earthly idea that his players were floating along on paper classes – and that he never would have guessed that one of his stars was enrolled in four no-show classes in the spring of 2005 – is nothing more than a confidence trick. He’s counting on the customary journalistic favoritism, and journalists’ amazing lack of curiosity, to enable him to tell this whopper and walk away with his aura intact. We’ll see if that works.”

Two years ago, The Big Lead took a look at Walden and his connection with Roy Williams at Kansas and North Carolina. Walden left in 2009, a year before the academic scandal truly erupted.

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