Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Attaboy" and a slap on the back for Dan Kane

Back in May, I wrote a story titled “Citizen Kane” which ran on a Raleigh website for creative writers. Basically, I said the readership of The News & Observer day-by-day was less and less interested in the writings of reporter Dan Kane who has been pounding on the “administration/academic/athletics scandal” at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for several years. The parting paragraph of that story I wrote in May was: The newspaper seems to be growing old by its own pen. You can only yell but so many times that all is rotten in the state of UNC and expect to keep your readership interested.

Well, excuse me, but, just recently, Kane’s persistence surely had to cause a jump in circulation. I have no facts to back up that thought, but, with the findings of the recently released Wainstein Report that found misdeeds involving administration, academics and athletics at UNC for at least 18 years, Kane’s effort must be praised, or at the very least he should receive an attaboy and a slap on the back. His persistence paid off. He followed a smoking gun and found fire, a blaze that will take years to put out. The only thing Kane couldn’t do is to get the culprits to fess-up about their wrong-doing and that’s because he had no way of prosecuting his way to the truth.

It’s been a long, drawn out effort by Kane and several fellow staff writers at the N&O that could result in an award for investigative journalism. (The N&O calls then the "I-team.")He’s still not appreciated by Tar Heels around the world, but the students majoring in journalism at UNC-CH and those teaching that curriculum should be impressed with his effort, but maybe not the subject thereof.

So, where does the story go from here? Is it over? My guess is that it’s far from over. Kane’s digging and reporting could go on as long as his boss desires. And here’s part of the reason why. There are indications Deborah Crowder, a central figure in the academic scam, used her enthusiasm for men’s basketball and her influence on campus to help basketball players scam classes at UNC since 1982. Her friend Burgess McSwain was the UNC men’s basketball academic advisor since the mid-1960s. The honorable and legendary Dean Smith was head basketball coach. He retired from the job after the 1996-97 season, a year after the reported and admitted starting date of the mischievous activities. So from about 1982 until 1997, there was a straight line that included Smith, McSwain and Crowder. In 1997, what had been informal became formal, at least according  to the Wainstein Report.

Some officials, pundits, observers and fans, especially the non-light blue-type fans, believe Smith had to know what was going on in the way of easy grading before and after the 1997 benchmark. Smith has pretty much always been an outspoken critic of those who judged of his players by a SAT score. Smith said many times that the SAT is not indicative of the ability of the student to achieve academically. Really?!?! Maybe if Chris Washburn, the 1984-86 Wolfpack basketball player with a SAT of below 500 who then Chancellor Bruce Poulton personally approved for admission to NC State University in 1984, had gone to UNC-CH…maybe Washburn would have graduated with honors. Smith’s program had a “system” that it followed to success. Did that include preferential academic treatment for his players? Kane should ask that question.

What about John Swofford, current commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference? He was the UNC Athletics Director 1980-97, leaving the same year Smith retired. What did Swofford know and when did he know it? He left UNC for the greener pastures of the ACC and escaped the crime committed by Crowder and others. Kane should call Swofford at least to get a denial and no-comment.

Is there more to the story? Yes, and there’s no way that Dan Kane will put down his pen, quit making calls, and stop writing about the UNC Scandal. It is doubtful Kane will move on to some other subject. My guess is he’s still on the case and will follow it through the NCAA’s review of the enlightening and damaging (to UNC-CH) Wainstein Report.  Good for Kane and good The N&O. For all the criticism of Kane I’ve dished out over the last few years, I’m here to withdraw it all. Congratulations, Dan. You were (and are) just doing your job. Attaboy!


  1. So Jim, I'm just wondering,,,if Kane's relentless pursuit had been directed towards NCSU, would you still be giving him a hearty slap on the back? Or is this because his target was the hated UNC? After all, the pursuit of truth applies regardless of who the players (pun intended) are, correct? But if that's true then why the downplaying of Kane's continuing efforts back in May?

    1. NC State has been through so many pursuits by The N&O that I've grown accustom to it and now let it roll off my back. All the while, the newspaper turned its head away from UNC-CH, "while the same thing was going on there." My downplaying (your words) back in May was because he seemed to be repeating his effort instead of giving us something new. Yes, the truth applies regardless of who the players are unless you're a Carolina fan and then you get down right uppity when someone accuses you of wrong-doing. UNC-CH has never done anything wrong when it comes to athletics and academics, and if you don't believe me, just ask any Carolina fan! Including you, whoever you are.

    2. Thanks for your reply Jim. For the record I always thought Valvano got hosed by the N&O and others. He never deserved the punishment he got. Sorry if I came across as uppity because I am far from it. It's the risk one runs communicating this way. Anyway, this is 1 Carolina fan who admits there was much wrong doing committed here. And every reasonable thinking UNC friend of mine also admits it. Does this rise to the level of shutting down programs? No. And my reasoning is just too long for this forum. Should Roy lose any championship banners??? Well,,,maybe, but maybe not. That is a very complicated question (from my point of view) and again too long of an explanation as to why not. But I admit it could happen and I understand why many of my State & Duke friends think it ought to happen tomorrow. But as a wise old friend of mine says "no matter how thin the pancake, there's always 2 sides". But I will say that attempts to stretch these transgressions well back into the Smith era do not seem plausible to me. Just my humble opinion.

    3. From a reliable source that used to work in UNC-CH admissions, Dean had his way when it came to admitting under-achievers.


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