SMU head coach Larry Brown said Thursday that he's "worried" by the academic scandal at North Carolina that implicates the school's basketball program.
The university released the results of an internal investigation into alleged academic fraud last month, revealing that 3,100 students, 48 percent of whom were athletes, took so-called "paper classes" in the school's Department of African and Afro-American Studies.
Students in those classes received high grades with "little regard" for the quality of their work, and some athletes, including basketball players, were steered to the classes by counselors in order to stay eligible for competition.
"Absolutely I'm worried about it," Brown said after the Mustangs' shootaround at Indiana on Thursday, according to ESPN.com. "What's troubling me the most is that some of that stuff dates back to coach [Dean] Smith, and we all know the character of that man."
"My daughter took some of those classes," Brown said. "If you look around, there's not a school in the country that doesn't have classes like that. How many kids are taking online classes these days? That's not an excuse. I'm just saying there are classes like that that are legitimate."
Brown attended and played for North Carolina under coaches Frank McGuire and Smith from 1961-63 and had his first coaching job at the school as an assistant from 1965-67.
Current North Carolina coach Roy Williams said last month he never ordered players into the paper classes. The university's report said that Williams became uncomfortable with the classes and tried to direct his players away from the Afro-American Studies department.
Brown himself has been in trouble with the NCAA in the past. Both UCLA, where Brown coached from 1979-81, and Kansas, where Brown coached from 1983-88, later received sanctions due to NCAA rules violations committed while Brown was coaching the respective programs.
The NCAA reopened its investigation into North Carolina this summer. It's unknown when the investigation will be completed.
SMU is 1-1 to start the season, while North Carolina is 2-0.
- Ben Estes