UNC Academic Scandal: Personal Experience

I hope that, with my comments on the UNC Academic Scandal, I have not given the impression of thinking of myself as being holier-than-thou, above UNC basketball coach Roy Williams, looking down upon him. Not at all, as I came close to all this myself, at Delaware. No, not sins of commission but of omission, if you will. I started at UD in 1966 and brought in their first black player ever, Charley Parnell, a 6’1″ guard out of East Tech HS in Cleveland, Ohio, and then two years at Casper JC in Wyoming. Not the best academic preparation possible.

He played two years for me, 1966-68, and was All-MAC. But, he did not graduate. My AD, Dave Nelson, a guy I did not get along with, called me into his office and tore me apart: “Your player Parnell will not be graduating.” I said I knew. He said, “You are going to correct that!” I asked how. He said, “Do you know what Parnell receives on his scholarship?” I said I could look it up. He said, “Don’t bother. It’s $1950. I am removing that sum from your recruiting budget for next year so he can finish up here and graduate. Are you hearing me?” I got on it, big time.

Charley needed good grades, as he was 25 points under a 2.00 GPA. Well, if you repeat a course and earn 4 hours of B, you pick up 8 points: you wipe out a -4 (for the D) and put in a +4. It took a year but he received his degree in 1969. I went in to see Dave Nelson: “Skipper, Parnell is graduating.” Ever the grouch, he said, “What do you want? Some sort of medal?” Ever the wise guy, I smiled and said, “Skip, I just KNEW you’d be happy!” He said, “I’ll put $2000 back in your budget.” I said, “It was only $1950.” He said, almost smiling, “Inflation. Now get out of my office!”

Happy ending. Armed with his BS, Charles Eugene Parnell went on to pick a Master’s Degree and a PhD. He became an important figure in the academic and business communities in the Chesapeake area. Now, the question: If Roy Williams had had a person like Dave Nelson riding herd on him, do we think this would have happened at UNC? I don’t think so. So, I think there are other ‘guilty’ parties here: UNC President, Athletic Director, Faculty. ‘The Admiral’ and I did not get along but he was 100% right on Charley Parnell. And I’m glad he was.