Sad to see this shining moment

Commentary

PITTSBURGH — Big-time college athletics is one of the most corrupt businesses in America, so it seemed appropriate that North Carolina won the NCAA basketball championship.

The university has been under fire for academic policies that allowed athletes to take “fake” courses for which they received good grades and maintained eligibility.

There’s an entire book on the topic, so it’s impossible to summarize the whole issue here. Basically, there are serious and credible allegations that North Carolina has been dishonest in handling academic issues with athletes. That’s especially been true in the case of athletes who participate in major revenue sports like basketball and football.

Players have told stories of turning in papers written by tutors and signing up for classes that either didn’t exist or didn’t require their participation.

The basketball coach, then and now, is Roy Williams, who says he knew nothing of any improprieties. He described the investigation as “a pain in the butt.”

You can argue that North Carolina’s case isn’t news. A lot of schools cheat to help high-profile programs.

Surely the term “student-athlete” has become damaged enough to be a joke. John Calipari has made no secret of the fact that his players come to Kentucky to get to the NBA.

A lot of athletes in big-time programs go on to lucrative careers, either in the NBA or overseas. Good for them. There are others who aren’t good enough or don’t stay healthy enough, and they hit the job market ill prepared for that reality.

It’s a dirty little arrangement, but’s it a way of life for a lot of programs.

North Carolina won. Spotlights, commemorative caps, confetti cannons and that special song.

Williams, who saw nothing and knew nothing, was smiling as broadly as anyone.

“One Shining Moment” indeed.

Right call

The NHL was correct to decline participation in the 2018 Olympics.

This will be a bitter fight, since some players are intent on going to the games, whether it’s sanctioned or not.

It makes no sense for the NHL to shut down for three weeks when the Olympics has never increased business for the NHL.

The NHL does a lot of things wrong, like its “lower body/upper body” injury reporting system.

The league got this one right.

New voice

There’s no way to know how Tony Romo will do as the color analyst on CBS-TV’s No. 1 NFL coverage team.

But he’s guaranteed to be better than Phil Simms.

One more reminder

Time is running out in the annual Guess How Many Games The Pirates Will Win contest.

The deadline is 2 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, April 6.

It couldn’t be easier: You e-mail me two numbers — how many games you think the Pirates will win and how many home runs they’ll hit this season (the latter is the tiebreaker).

The winner gets a box of leftover promotional stuff, which can only be mailed to addresses within the United States.

The e-mail address is at the bottom of this column.

Enter. Hurry. You could be the winner. Yes, you.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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