Letters to the Editor

10/25 Your letters: Nancy Manley, and Kevin Kirk

Benefits are not a gift

As a member of the federal community who served our country for years, I am deeply concerned that my hard-earned benefits will be cut to offset proposed tax policy changes. I ask my representative and senators to oppose such cuts to the federal community. I based my career and retirement planning on long-standing, promised benefit calculations. Any cuts to what I earned break that promise and denigrates the value of public service.

Congress is currently debating reforms to our tax code. Paying for touted middle-class tax relief on the backs of middle-class federal employees and retirees is wrong. My retirement and health benefits were earned through years of hard work – they are not gifts to rescind.

Nancy Manley

Durham

Congratulations, Carolina

An open letter to Chancellor Folt,

Congratulations. After years of negotiation, Carolina has beaten the accusations of the NCAA committee on infractions. The argument that won the day was one that may be discussed in law schools for years to come. It turns out that we don’t have a corrupt athletic department, we have a corrupt university. It wasn’t athletes that benefited from paper classes, it was everyone. All it took to keep the NCAA from issuing sanctions, vacating victories and championships, and issuing a fine was to completely denigrate the integrity of my alma mater. I hope that the victory feels as hollow to you as it does to me.

For years I had the honor of working with two of UNC’s greatest citizens: Dean Smith and Bill Friday. Coach Smith was given his position when he led an investigation into misconduct by the program 60 years ago. He was a man of ultimate principles and unquestionable integrity. I can’t imagine what he would say about recent events. I know he would not have allowed the argument UNC made to carry the day. He was always one to do the right thing so that it taught his players the right lesson What lesson have we taught our current students and athletes? In fact, what lesson have we taught the member institutions of the NCAA? I’d hazard a guess that the lesson has been that if you lower your academic standards far enough, you can win any championship to which you strive. It is not a lesson that Coach Smith would have wanted any part of.

Of course, I do not need to explain to you who Bill Friday was, what he stood for, or how he built the UNC system into one of the finest state systems in the country. I often heard him worry about compromising academics for athletic glory. “If you do that,” he’d say, “then you’re down there with the Oklahomas of the world. I could never live with myself if that were the case.” I know you’re not the president, but as chancellor, how will you hold your head now that we’ve shown that athletics is far more important than our academic standards?

I’ve written you before, expressing opinions and asking questions, without a response. I don’t expect one this time either. As both a student and a member of the athletic department staff, I know that the behavior exhibited by so many parties in this scandal would not have been tolerated (but that was in President Friday’s day). When news of this scandal first broke, we had an opportunity to be the vanguard in investigating and rectifying the problem. We could have set new standards by which the rest of the colleges who compete in the NCAA would have viewed as an example. Instead, we got Athletic Director Cunningham saying we shouldn’t “unilaterally disarm,” showing that winning is more important than say, real classes. I’ve heard that changes were made (like eliminating academic exceptions for athletic admissions), but never seen anything official. Perhaps, in light of the legal sidestepping that is now the talk of the town (and country), it would be time to announce the changes that have been made that will never allow this to happen again, or what oversight the university will have for athletics. That is, of course, if you’ve instituted those changes and are working to keep things from going awry again. I’m no longer sure that’s the case.

I guess I was the exceptional Tar Heel who took more pride in the renown of many of our academic departments, like History or English, than in the results from the football field or basketball court. I’ll always treasure my time at UNC and the many relationships I made there with faculty, staff and my fellow students. But I won’t be able to speak as proudly of being a Tar Heel ever again.

Kevin Kirk

B.A. 1984, M.A. 1987

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