In a credibility match-up that pits Roy Williams against Rashad McCants, it would be prudent to stack your coins in the corner with the head basketball coach at the University of North Carolina, and not with his former player.
Inexplicably, some media outlets, including ESPN and a state newspaper whose quest for a Pulitzer is as plain as black and white, have chosen to ignore McCants’ history and awarded him credibility that he hasn’t earned.
Recently, McCants, who left UNC after helping the Tar Heels win a national championship during the 2004-05 season, went on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and basically said his education was a sham — and that Williams knew it. Williams, when belatedly given the chance to respond to McCants’ accusation, denied being complicit in keeping the player eligible.
By then the ESPN story was already on reruns.
Let’s take a look at the two main characters.
Williams, who did his internship under Dean Smith, has been a collegiate coach since 1988, first at Kansas and since 2003 at his alma mater. During that time, he has established himself not only as one of the game’s top coaches, but someone who follows the rules and demands that athletes perform on and off the court. Williams has been widely viewed as a strict disciplinarian whose integrity was not in question. He could leave today for many more millions in the NBA, but stays because he values his relationships with his players and his position to enhance their lives.]
Then there is McCants, who was recruited by Williams’ predecessor at UNC and identified early on as a malcontent and loner. In 2004, McCants complained quite publicly about being in “prison” at UNC and the educational demands of Coach Williams, whining then about having to run laps for skipping class. He and his father have been unabashed in criticizing Williams for their belief that he undermined McCants’ NBA career by advising the league’s general managers about his poor attitude. McCants’ NBA career does appear over, but only after he was drafted as the 14th overall pick and then flunked a four-year “tryout” during which he was paid millions of dollars.
So there is the motive for why, nine years after leaving Chapel Hill, Rashad McCants was finally ready for a tell-all.
ESPN, through its own reporting, knew McCants’ history — as did other media outlets. Yet they ignored all that because McCants’ story squeezed nicely into an existing narrative and advanced a now transparent agenda.