Saturday, June 28, 2014

Student (sic) Athlete Says UNC Is Bogus, part 2

By Professor Doom

     So I’m still looking at the fraud at UNC, and considering the case of Rashad McCants, a former star player there who says he took bogus courses there.

     Well, of course he did.

     The above quote, from a mainstream site, is, as always for mainstream media, clueless. The reporter is joking about McCants taking algebra in college, as though taking algebra in college was unusual. I’ve already shown that 90% of the coursework at college is at the high school level or lower…anyone who bothered to look would know that. So, yeah, I’m not surprised McCants was taking 10th grade algebra at university, that would make him an above average student nowadays.

     Now, ordinarily, a student failing this badly would go on probation, or just be chucked from the institution. That’s not what happens to a sportsball player, of course. Instead, they’re pushed into bogus courses. The semester after failing his high school college work, McCants made the Dean’s list, scoring 4 A’s.

      This guy with no reputation for scholastic ability (to put it lightly) goes from F student to A student in one semester, and nobody asks “what’s up with that?” This is not unusual, as I’ve been at state institutions that went from 50% to 85% passing rates from one semester to the next without anybody even a little curious.

     The bottom line is, McCants isn’t that special; most everyone in the industry has known sportsball players get bogus educations. But many “normal” students get bogus educations, too…and everyone in the industry knows that, too.

     Of course, UNC doubles down on denying the obvious, and other players (with their sportsball careers in jeopardy if they don’t toe the line) also deny it. Much as     
 I said all it takes is one athlete to come forward to show that there’s fraud at UNC, McCants has issued his own challenge to players that say UNC is legit:

Outside the Lines on Wednesday McCants also issued a challenge of sorts to his former teammates who have denied his claims.
That challenge: for them to make their own transcripts public, noting that “the truth is there in the transcripts.” The question now is whether or not his former teammates will take McCants up on his request.

     I bet that even if a second and third player shows transcripts (and, UNC is in a fine position to doctor such transcripts), and bogus courses are on them, UNC will just triple and quadruple down with denials.

     But the question still remains: are these student (sic) athletes being victimized worse than the usual students? Both get bogus educations, for the most part. At least athletes know they’re in bogus courses, or at least courses more bogus than the usual courses. Students get piles of debt for worthless degrees, while the athletes move on to the big time.

     Seems like the athletes get a better deal. They get to go pro, right? Not really:

     Student (sic) athletes are not even given 4 year scholarships. Instead, they’re given scholarships on a year to year basis. If an athlete gets injured and can’t play—a VERY REAL RISK—there goes even his bogus education. Athletes need to be at peak physical condition to be useful; even if injury doesn’t make an athlete useless, simply getting older can do it. It’s pure evil giving athletes year-to-year scholarships, knowing the chance of the athlete being tossed away before he gets his degree is very real (particularly when it takes 6 years for most students to get a degree, and athletes are only eligible for at most 5 years!).

     The reality is a student athlete is a sacrificing his body for a slim chance of getting something out of being in college, while a typical student is sacrificing his financial future for a slim chance of getting something out of college. Is your body worth a few hundred thousand to you? In that regard, student athletes get it worse.

     But wait, there’s more. The university gets some money from a typical student, but student (sic) athletes provide revenue to the university through their play. They provide more revenue through licensing and a host of other ways, ways that the student athlete gets, literally, nothing for.

     Hmm, sacrifice your body so that clueless administrators and coaches can rake in millions. Yeah, that seems a little unfair. 

     Despite their generally weak academics, student athletes aren’t stupid (honest, academics and intelligence aren’t the same thing), and have tried many times in the past to stop their being abused—this puts them well ahead of typical students, that seem willing to take endless abuse without serious complaint.

     The NCAA, eager to protect the great sums of money flowing to it off the backs of athletes, has squelched every attempt to get student (sic) athletes treated like human beings, instead of chattel.

     The courts recently got involved, and, shock of shocks, actually made a good decision. The student (sic) athletes made their case that they were employees of educational institutions, and thus were entitled to certain rights, not least of which is the ability to unionize. The union’s goals are worthy enough, and go a long way in explaining just how bad it is for student (sic) athletes:

1. Minimize college athletes' brain trauma risks.
2. Raise the scholarship amount.
3. Prevent players from being stuck paying sports-related medical expenses.
4. Increase graduation rates.
5. Protect educational opportunities for student-athletes in good standing.
6. Prohibit universities from using a permanent injury suffered during athletics as a reason to reduce/eliminate a scholarship.
7. Establish and enforce uniform safety guidelines in all sports to help prevent serious injuries and avoidable deaths.
8. Eliminate restrictions on legitimate employment and players ability to directly benefit from commercial opportunities.
9. Prohibit the punishment of college athletes that have not committed a violation.
10. Guarantee that college athletes are granted an athletic release from their university if they wish to transfer schools.
11. Allow college athletes of all sports the ability to transfer schools one time without punishment.

     I love goals #9 and #11 particularly, as there have been quite a few whimsical punishments meted out, every bit as capricious as the punishments I’ve seen inflicted on faculty, and even experienced myself from time to time. It really is so bad that “please stop punishing us for no damn reason” is a valid request.

     The NCAA’s response is so shamelessly hypocritical that I’m solidly in “I can’t make this stuff up” territory:

    If the NCAA honestly believed that quote, they’d shut down immediately, since sportsball has absolutely nothing to do with higher education. This is some epic hypocrisy here. 

    The question remains: faculty at institutions of higher education are treated pretty abusively, too, and attempts to seriously unionize have been consistently undermined by administration.

     But hey, if student (sic) athletes can successfully ask to be treated with some level of decency, maybe someday faculty will as well?

     A guy can hope.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Student (sic) Athlete Says UNC Is Bogus

By Professor Doom

A few essays back I mentioned the bogus courses scandal at UNC. Compared to much of the fraud going on in higher education, the claim that there are utterly bogus courses going on even in “good” schools like UNC hardly rates.

But, a whistleblower insists it’s a problem, and it’s been going on for years, especially for courses created especially for the sportsball players on campus.

Now, most everyone knows about the bogus courses for athletes, they’ve been around for years. Thing is, any institution that is determined to have a winning team (and they all are determined to have a winning team) has no choice but to offer (exceptionally) bogus courses for athletes. Let’s go over what is obvious to anyone in the industry here:

1)    Offer bogus courses, and now your institution has access to top tier athletes that can’t handle even the watered down dubious courses “legitimate” institutions offer. This gives an advantage to the team.

2)    Even if you have good student athletes (and, honest, it can happen), by steering them to bogus courses those athletes spend less time studying and more time practicing sportsball. Again, having your entertainers practice more gives an advantage.

Despite the bleeding obvious here, UNC decided to double down in a spectacularly corrupt way. They claim that the bogus courses don’t indicate athletic fraud, since the bogus courses weren’t just for athletes. Their claim is UNC is really just an academic fraud, no different than any other institution. The NCAA is satisfied with this explanation, and accreditation totally doesn’t care if schools give completely bogus courses, so it’s all well and good.

Seriously, higher education is just that messed up. Administrators would gladly sacrifice all academics just to protect a sportsball team.

Ordinarily, I would be content to simply point and laugh at the antics of administration, but they also engaged in a bit of character assassination of the whistleblower involved, who insists that it was athletes taking these courses. All it would take is one athlete to come forward to back up her claims, and we could determine if it was indeed the whistleblower with low character, or if it was the administration.

It sure didn’t take long for an athlete to come forward. All hail Rashad McCants. The first three paragraphs of what McCantshas to say are worthy of consideration:

Rashad McCants, the second-leading scorer on the North Carolina basketball team that won the 2004-05 national title, told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that tutors wrote his term papers, he rarely went to class for about half his time at UNC, and he remained able to play largely because he took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible.

At the risk of repeating myself too much, allow me to point out the takeaway from paragraph one:

First, this scam went on for at least ten years. Totally bogus courses, devoid of content or effort required, for over a decade, and no regulator noticed the fraud. But what of accreditation? People outside the industry think accreditation checks to see that schools are legitimate, but no…accreditation is bogus in this regard. I promise you, there are schools throughout the country charging tens of thousands of dollars in tuition for utterly bogus coursework, and accreditation has no way of knowing.

I conjecture that accreditation doesn’t even care about all the bogus schools/courses (since accreditation is run by the same people running the institutions), but that’s opinion on my part. The fact remains the same: accreditation has no means to determine if a school/course is bogus. Only a whistleblower can shed even a glimmer of light of the immense fraud of higher education.

Any whistleblower that does so is removed, one way or another.

Anyway, the bogus course scam had been running for over a decade, and nobody cared.

McCants told "Outside the Lines" that he could have been academically ineligible to play during the championship season had he not been provided the assistance. Further, he said head basketball coach Roy Williams knew about the "paper class" system at UNC. The so-called paper classes didn't require students to go to class; rather, students were required to submit only one term paper to receive a grade.

Much like I said above, a school that gives bogus courses to its student (sic) athletes has a huge advantage over legitimate schools. Pretty much any school with a winning team is suspect and should be examined closely (and, almost certainly, shut down as a school…they can keep their sportsball teams functioning, that’s fine).

Any school with a losing team should be given a choice: either shut down the sportsball programs, or shutdown the school (and, again, keep the sportsball teams).
You might think the fixes I propose in the previous two paragraphs are extreme, but realize UNC is more than willing to throw all their academics under a bus in order to save their sportsball programs…I suspect administrators at other schools feel the same way. Google “a football town with a drinking problem” and see with your own eyes how many schools that phrase applies to.

Courses where you need only submit one paper are actually more rigorous than many courses I’ve seen with my own eyes on campus (and, hell, I took a graduate level education course where all I had to so was submit one paper—submit, not necessarily write)…the only thing that makes it bad here is that the papers weren’t written by the students.

That’s how messed up higher education is.

But wait, there’s no reason to suspect any papers are written by students, as I’ve shown already, and that’s not just for the bogus courses at UNC.

McCants also told "Outside the Lines" that he even made the dean's list in the spring of 2005 despite not attending any of his four classes for which he received straight-A grades. 

Gee, really? Dean’s List, for a guy like this? Were all his courses in the white-people-are-evil department (not that there’s anything wrong with that)? It’s a shame reporters aren’t looking into obvious questions about that department. There are many obvious questions in higher education nobody seems to ask, however.
Still, what of UNC’s claims that it was “only” engaging in academic fraud, and not “just” athletic” fraud? The article answers that, but doesn’t connect the dots:

A copy of McCants' university transcript, labeled "unofficial" and obtained by "Outside the Lines," shows that in his non-African-American Studies classes, McCants received six C's, one D and three F's. In his African-American Studies classes, 10 of his grades were A's, six B's, one a C and one a D. The UNC registrar's office declined to send McCants an official, signed transcript because of a May 2005 hold on its release. According to the UNC athletic department, McCants had university property that had never been returned.

All those C’s are hints—a C on campus nowadays is a straight up F from a few decades ago. Please understand, faculty that fail students tend to get fired; only a few faculty are in a position to be able to afford to fail a student, so they hand out C’s instead.

“Unofficial” means very little on a transcript, it just means the transcript has come from the person involved, and not directly from the institution (although some sleazeball institutions will simply open official transcripts in an unofficial manner, screwing over applicants who have no chance to defend against such skullduggery). Unless McCants has impressive skills in document forgery, I’m willing to take what is said here at face value.

Doing so, shock of shocks, shows that administration is lying. The transcript clearly shows something odd is going on in the white-people-are-evil department. Note that last sentence of the excerpt: the character assassination of McCants has already begun. An institution willing to sacrifice all academics to save sportsball programs will gladly sacrifice an alumnus as well.

We’ll look more at this next time.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Government Regulations Killing Education? Part 3

By Professor Doom

I’ve spent the last two posts analyzing a $650,000 a year administrator’s thesis that the reason for the skyrocketing tuition of higher education is all the government regulation and such.

Now, there are many very strong arguments to be made for that thesis, but, alas, the $650,000 a year administrator failed to make them, instead demonstrating the level of hypocrisy and cluelessness that is actually typical of administration in higher education. It’s a huge puzzle why we need so many of these guys, and why they get so much money.

But wait, there’s more.

 The readers in the comments section do a fine job of pointing out weaknesses in the essay. Even more amazing, there’s a look at the school’s publicly available tax forms, which sure do tell a different tale (a huge shout-out to the amazing Unemployed_Northeastern, it’s a shame I can’t contact this commenter directly to thank him).

Most students at the Poo-Bah’s institution are only there because their tuition is paid via federal student loans and Pell Grant money. In short, about half of the institution’s revenue (roughly $70,000,000) is coming from the federal government. As a non-profit, the school gets a variety of massive federal and local tax breaks on top of that. 

I’d be hard pressed to complain about a client giving me $70,000,000 a year and huge tax breaks wanting to know the money is being used properly, but the Poo-Bah is shameless. If a crocodile were so large that it were constructed of smaller, 20’ long crocodiles, that’s the size of beast that could cry tears like this administrator.
Let’s go over that again: $70,000,000 a year goes to this school from the federal government…and this is a small university by today’s standards, in a town most folks have never heard of. I encourage the reader to pause a moment to consider the sheer scale of the federal student loan scam, that even small schools can rake in this kind of loot.

This school, this oasis of shamelessness harboring this tearful crocodile, only exists because of the torrent of lucre directly and indirectly poured on it by the federal government. And the Poo-Bah is complaining that the federal government should DARE to ask what’s being done with all the money it’s handing over to the Poo-Bah’s institution?

Hey, if the $650,00 a year Poo-Bah is sincere about all those evil federal regulations, he could, you know, stop taking all that federal money. Stop taking the money, and then you don’t have to deal with the strings attached to the money. If it’s as bad a deal as he says, he’d do that in a heartbeat, right?

Crocodile tears, indeed. I’d be happy to do his job for $65,000  year (and thus make 600% of the pay of a typical teacher in higher education)…I wonder if the governing board would consider it.

Back to those tax forms. In spite of all the regulations the Poo-Bah is crying about, his institution took in $20,000,000 more dollars than it spent last year (and their endowment is growing nicely as well). It seems like the school is doing ok on their nearly $60,000,000 dollars of tax-free land (a big deal in Florida, which collects most of its money via real estate taxes) despite all those onerous regulations. Many a legitimate business would be thrilled to make such profits with so little revenue or even capital investment. 

But wait, this is a non-profit institution. They’re under no obligation to take in more money than they spend on ridiculous administrative salaries, so there’s no need to run a $20,000,000 profit.

If the school gave a refund check of $2,000 to each student (incidentally, this is about triple the cost of tuition when I went to university, a generation ago), that would eliminate their $20,000,000 profit last year. I guess that option is not on the table? So much for his claim that his institution is working hard to keep tuition costs down, as that refund would do much to offset the 5% per year tuition increases at the school. I reiterate that these are increases that, obviously, are not necessary in light of that kind of profit.

Seriously, something is very wrong in higher education, and I’m not sure this $650,000 a year administrator has really advanced the case that it’s the federal regulations that are primarily the problem. It’s amazing, when you consider that the government consumes about 50% of our GNP, that this $650,000 a year administrator can’t seem to put together a semi-credible essay showing there’s too much government. Shocking.

Perhaps the reader can guess what the $650,000 a year administrator should be saying is the problem in higher education?

Think about it. I’ve haven’t quite dropped 650,000 hints here, but I reckon the gentle reader can guess what I think the problem is.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Government Regulations Killing Education? Part 2

By Professor Doom

So last time I examined an essay by a very highly paid administrator (paid to the tune of $650,000 a year) who insists that it isn’t highly paid administration that’s the reason for high tuition. Instead, he claims it’s all the regulations that must followed.

The first part of his essay disregarded that those regulations came from so much administrative abuse, and disregarded that if following NCAA regulations cost too much, institutions could just stop throwing away money on useless sports programs that do nothing for education and research. I emphasize that “education and research” part because taxpayers are told to surrender their tax money to support institutions for education and research…the institutions promise to do so in writing; you can check the mission statement of any institution of higher education and you’ll see nothing there saying the goal is to put together a great sportsball team (or to provide ridiculously high paying jobs to administrators).

$650,000 a year for this level of honesty and intellectual acumen. The essay then heads into train-wreck territory:

Legitimate concerns about keeping every student safe and secure, including complying with the federal Clery Act crime-reporting requirement, are another driver of tuition costs. Recently, President Obama announced his intention to hold colleges more accountable for how they handle allegations of rape on their campuses. This drives increases in security as well as legal and student-life staff.”

I’m guessing the administrator doesn’t even know about the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State? While his tears here might be sincere, realize that if college administrators acted with integrity, we wouldn’t have these laws (futilely) trying to get them to do things that decent human beings do, like properly report rapes and such, instead of covering them up. 

As I discussed earlier in my blog, it’s the administrator’s job to cover up horrible crimes on campus, since if knowledge of those crimes got out, it would cut into growth and retention, the true goals of administration (because, again, more growth means more pay for the administrator)…I maintain that we need administrators with integrity and devotion to the students; we used to get such administrators by drawing from the faculty for short terms, rather than hiring from the roving pool of mercenaries out for plunder. The regulations making students “safe and secure” are due to how much harm our current type of administration has done to students.

So, yes, it’s a shame that there’s now a crime-reporting law for administration…but they brought that on themselves by not reporting serious crimes like humans would do. Again I ask why should students be punished for administrative misbehavior?
There’s also a bit of hypocrisy here. He’s worried about student safety? Most of those risks come from the bloatedness of institutions that have focused on growth above all else: small schools just don’t have the same level of crime problems as large schools. If administration hadn’t sacrificed everything for growth, this wouldn’t be a concern.

Actually, there’s hypocrisy on top of hypocrisy. Administration cares about student safety, but has no problem signing up students for lifetimes of debt that they can never hope to repay? If he cared about students, he’d probably stop making it so easy for students to destroy themselves with student loans.

I find myself drowning in crocodile tears here.
The essay continues to try to make a case:

Here is our latest one—not driven by law but by federal administrative fiat. It calls for the establishment of a central complaint system for all military and veteran students and requires every institution to identify a single point of contact for all complaints. That person must also document every complaint, record the actions to respond to the complaint and resolve it, as well as the outcome, all subject to federal scrutiny by several agencies. Who will do this work?

Here, the Poo-Bah almost has a point. A strange federal law giving priority treatment to our veterans…considering the shoddy treatment vets get, medically, I think it’s a puny gesture by the federal government. It’s a shame the administrator begrudges our veterans even that.

Unfortunately, accreditation ALREADY has rules for student complaints, at every institution there’s already someone responsible for documenting complaints (see, for example, section 4.5 on SACS Principles of Accreditation ). For $650,000 a year, the Poo-Bah should know this is only a minor adjustment to rules his institution (which, being in Florida, is part of SACS) should already be following. 

Whoever is already doing the job for all students, now has to put a note (or maybe just a “V”) by the complaints that come from the students that are veterans. Big deal, cry me a river, man. 

The train-wreck continues:

I could go on with more examples, but I hope I have made my point.”

Actually, his examples of the NCAA and veteran complaints demonstrate surprising ignorance for $650,000 a year, and don’t make the point at all. His statements regarding oversight illustrate a strange blind spot regarding administration’s role in the corruption of higher education, and the myriad of regulations that are trying to at least slow it down.

“Too much government” is an easy point to make in just about every aspect of American life, but he’s not managing it, somehow.

Much, but certainly not all, of the much-maligned "administrative bloat" is driven by external forces, societal demands, and regulations from the federal government, the states, the NCAA, accreditors, and insurers.”

Normally one restates the thesis near the end of the essay, but he’s jumped the gun a little here. I’m not convinced he’s done much of a job arguing his case. Luckily, my Libertarian leanings make it easy for me to concede that at least a small part of the unnecessary bloat is due to government.

On the other hand, consider all the academic fields that have sprung up and grown in the last few decades. Computers, robotics, genetics, environmental studies, even, yes, God forgive me for including it, gender studies and white-people-are-evil studies departments, just to name a few new fields. And yet, there’s no comparable faculty growth at all. A much stronger case could be made that there should be faculty bloat, to cover all the new fields that exist now…and yet there is no such bloat.

In times past, faculty made up the majority of people working on campus; now faculty are a minority, a small minority when one considers most college courses are taught by minimally paid part time laborers that don’t even count as faculty in many ways.

Hmm, there are an awful lot of dogs-that-didn’t-bark in this essay. Could this $650,000 a year administrator really not know all this stuff?

The train-wreck continues:

Higher education is regulated by every cabinet-level department and numerous subagencies.”

Yes, the education bloat goes higher than just the institutions, I’ve mentioned that before, and I’m not sure what he’s getting at, as he might get one of the stupidly-high paid department jobs he’s complaining about. This has nothing to do with the thesis, since the expense here isn’t paid via tuition (instead, it’s your tax dollars at non-work). Yikes, he’s floundering here.

Next, the $650,000 a year administrator states an unsourced fact. Let’s take it as truth:

One small private college documented that 106 employees logged 7,200 hours completing federal compliance forms.

Let’s do some math on those 106 employees spending 7,200 hours on federal compliance. That’s about 68 hours for each employee, so two weeks of work. Seeing as there are 52 weeks in the year, the Poo-Bah has made an excellent point about how there are way too many administrators here. What, pray tell, are these 106 administrators doing the other 50 weeks of the year?

I’ve discussed some of the make-work these guys perform to fill time, but the Poo-Bah’s example here shows that they use 106 people to do the work of at most 5 people…a whole building on campus to do the work of a handful of people. He’s making an excellent point about how bad the bloat is.

Oh wait, he’s using this example to show that there’s too much regulation, not realizing that he accidentally gave too much information (i.e., the number of employees) so we can see how there are too many administrators. 

$650,000 a year for this.

The rest of his essay is crowing from the $650,000 a year administrator about how he’s working hard to keep costs down. Good for him that he’s doing something to be proud of. I encourage the gentle reader to see with his own eyes I’m leaving nothing of consequence out.

Next time, we’ll take a look at the reality of the Poo-Bah’s institutional tax forms, to get a better idea of the oceans of crocodile tears disgorging from the man’s eyes.