With the NCAA sanctions coming down on North Carolina, there were plenty of reactions on the Internet, including those of players who lived through the firestorm of the 2010 season.
The Charlotte Observer caught up with several players, including Ryan Taylor of the Green Bay Packers, Robert Quinn of the St. Louis Rams and former UNC captain Matt Merletti. All expressed how difficult the situation was and said that moving forward was the best thing to come out of this situation.
However, former UNC safety Deunta Williams did not shy away from speaking his mind with respect to the sanctions handed down to the Heels.
“What happened at Carolina is child’s play compared to what happens at the SEC."
“The SEC pays for players. I’m not afraid to say it, but the NCAA doesn’t go after them.”
“It’s a broken system. College football is a business, and the people who run college football are only interested in money and using the players as product to make money.
“That’s the frustrating part about it. The NCAA is crucifying players to keep the system going and the NCAA doesn’t have to answer to anybody.”
Williams has been one of the more outspoken former Heels about the process and the fallout following the NCAA situation at UNC. The safety has sat on panels about free speech and more recently participated in a discussion on student-athletes' rights where the NCAA is concerned. In short, the man knows what he's saying and is not scared to voice his opinion.
Deunta's done great work and been a solid advocate for one of the major causes that I am 100 percent behind, player advocacy. That said, the dig at the SEC was a bit unwarranted.
The SEC has the NCAA's eyes trained on it. During the same time that UNC was battling the NCAA, the Auburn Tigers were embroiled in a scandal of their own that had Mississippi State involved as well. Alabama has been wrapped up in NCAA issues more than once during the Nick Saban era. And let's not forget the LSU situation that saw Russell Shepard sidelined for part of 2011.
The issue isn't the NCAA going after the SEC. The NCAA issue is making something stick. While you can buy into the conspiracy theory stuff, the fact of the matter is the SEC runs a tighter ship than the ACC. Whether individual SEC schools are doing underhanded things or not, the conference as a whole, after years of massive probation at Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss, handles its business better than everyone else.
Perhaps that's not the best outlook, but it is the facts. Auburn most certainly didn't serve Cam Newton up on a silver platter to the NCAA the way UNC served Deunta Williams and his teammates. The Alabama administration did not leave their players exposed to fend for themselves against the NCAA the way North Carolina left its members of the Tar Heel family.
While we disagree on the SEC, I think it has long been known that most folks close enough to the situation ll agree with Williams when it comes to the NCAA. The idea that the players are the means of production and the only thing amateur about the business of college football is the players is a sentiment that folks like Joe Nocera have helped bring to the forefront in the battle for player advocacy.
The players remain the faceless means of production to fuel the system, accountable to the NCAA's nebulous rules that serve largely to vilify those who run afoul of the very system the rules are designed to perpetuate. As long as the demonizing of players continues, the NCAA can sit back, smile as fans and media members alike chastise the players and leave the system unquestioned. Oh, and let's not forget count that money. Sit back, smile and count that money.