New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has become one of the NFL's top pass-catchers and was a key part of Big Blue's Super Bowl victory last season. His impressive collegiate career is being called into question, however, as he reportedly competed as an ineligible player in 2008.
According to J. Andrew Curliss and Andrew Carter of The News & Observer, Nicks was actually academically ineligible when he set a school record at the University of North Carolina with 1,222 receiving yards as a junior in 2008.
Nicks was reportedly aided by tutor Jennifer Wiley in writing several papers while at UNC. Rather than simply tutoring him, she wrote portions of the papers for him.
The violations weren't discovered until after Nicks entered the NFL draft following the 2008 season.
While the school will be punished for the violations of Nicks and a number of other players in 2008 and prior, Nicks' statistics will still stand in the North Carolina record books. They will now be accompanied by an asterisk and the statement "participation later vacated due to NCAA penalty."
Not only is Nicks' 2008 receiving-yardage mark still a school record, but he is also tops in career receiving yardage with 2,840 yards and receiving touchdowns with 21. Those numbers won't be stricken from the record book completely, but they are certainly soiled to some degree.
Nicks was the No. 29 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Giants, and it hasn't taken him long to translate his college success to the professional level. Nicks now has back-to-back seasons with at least 76 catches and 1,000 receiving yards as well as 18 combined touchdowns over the past two years.
The dynamic, downfield threat truly proved his worth during the Giants' run to the Super Bowl this past season, catching an astounding 28 passes for 444 yards and four touchdowns in four contests.
No matter how much he accomplishes in the NFL, however, his academic violations at UNC are going to hang over his head for a long time.
Nicks hasn't been the source of any problems while with the Giants, so perhaps his academic transgressions can be chalked up to a young guy making some bad decisions. If Nicks owns up to it and admits his mistakes, people are sure to be a lot more forgiving in the long run.
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