12 sports books make a summer reading potluck

These 12 books range from the story of a family of baseball catchers to a tribute to the knuckleball to an introspective exploration by a woman rower and beyond. Together they offer a summer full of good reading.

12. ‘Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports,’ by Jay M. Smith and Mary Willingham

Probably no college athletic scandal has ever been reported in as much detail as Jay M. Smith and Mary Willingham have done in “Cheated,” which exposes the extensive dirty academic laundry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. Willingham, who worked for the center that provides tutoring and counseling to student-athletes, was the central whistleblower about the academic fraud, including the sham courses that  kept woefully unprepared football and basketball players academically eligible. With her co-author and UNC history professor, they expose not only the shenanigans but the university’s efforts at damage control.

Here’s an excerpt from Cheated:

“To understand why athletic officials and lawyers would presume to characterize UNC’s academic culture without bothering to invite a faculty member to the discussion, we need only recognize the three things they did not want faculty to know and that they could not afford to acknowledge in the presence of the NCAA: UNC routinely admits athletes who are not up to the challenge of meeting UNC’s academic demands; a large ‘support’ infrastructure has been put in place to disguise, defer, and mitigate the many academic problems that ensue from the admission of these athletes; and the university understands that the athletes themselves cannot really be blamed for the academic corner cutting to which they are inevitably reduced. To save the athletes now on trial, they had to continue their stagecraft – but only in the presence of reliable cast members with much practice in rehearsing the script.”

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