Ex-Athletes Sue North Carolina, NCAA Over Academic Scandal

Former North Carolina football player Devon Ramsay is part of a suit that says his alma mater and the NCAA do not fulfill their academic obligations. (Photo: Gerry Broome, Associated Press)
Former North Carolina football player Devon Ramsay is part of a suit that says his alma mater and the NCAA do not fulfill their academic obligations. (Photo: Gerry Broome, Associated Press)

Attorneys representing two former University of North Carolina athletes on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the university and the NCAA in connection with the academic scandal involving Tar Heels athletes.

The suit, which seeks to become a class action, was filed in a North Carolina state court on behalf of women’s basketball player Rashanda McCants and football player Devon Ramsay by lawyers from Hausfeld LLP the same firm that is pursuing the Ed O’Bannon antitrust case against the NCAA concerning the use of college athletes’ names, images and likenesses.

Rashanda McCants is the younger sister of former North Carolina men’s basketball player Rashad McCants.

This case involves allegations of breach of contract against UNC for a failure to provide “academically sound classes with legitimate educational instruction.”

The complaint also accuses the NCAA of negligence because: “Although the NCAA’s rules prohibit academic fraud, the NCAA knew of dozens of instances of academic fraud in its member schools’ athletic programs over the last century, and it nevertheless refused to implement adequate monitoring systems to detect and prevent these occurrences at its member institutions.”

The suit seeks unspecified damages and asks for “the formation of an independent commission to review, audit, assess, and report on academic integrity in NCAA-member athletic programs and certify member-school curricula as providing comparable educations and educational opportunities to athletes and non-athletes alike.”

The suit seeks to create two broad classes of plaintiffs:

— A damages class comprising anyone who attended UNC-Chapel Hill on an athletic scholarship and enrolled in a broad range of African and Afro-American Studies and/or Swahili classes between 1989 and 2011. The list of those classes runs for 12 pages of the 100-page complaint.

— An injunctive relief class comprising anyone who attended UNC-Chapel Hill on an athletic scholarship or is currently attending the school on an athletic scholarship.

Asked what the plaintiffs stand to gain from this lawsuit, lead attorney Michael Hausfeld told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday night: “One is that the athletes at UNC get the education that was committed to them, and whatever earning power they lost as a result of the education that they were directed into.

“The second aspect is that all athletes – male and female, in all sports, in all of Division I – are ensured a meaningful education by having certification as to the integrity of the academic curricula for athletes and that there are no programs or projects that impede academic progress, nor that there are any academic opportunities that are lost to them because of their athletic commitments.”

Rick White, UNC’s associate vice chancellor of communications and public affairs, said in a statement: “We have not seen the lawsuit, therefore we have no comment at this time.”

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SOURCE: USA Today – Steve Berkowitz

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