I was barely eighteen when, my first night in Chapel Hill, they herded all the male freshmen into an auditorium and an aging Dean stepped up to a podium, perched his half-glasses on the end of his nose, and explained genteelly from here on – for the next four years – we were expected to behave as ‘Carolina Gentleman.’
What he meant wasn’t exactly clear but, a week later, at my first football game, I learned one concrete fact: A number of students could get dead drunk and pass out in the parking lot at Kenan Stadium without tarnishing their reputations as Carolina Gentlemen.
Fast forward four decades and scandals about phony classes for athletes which errant administrators compounded with cover-ups had depleted the ranks of Carolina Gentleman to a glimmer – when the smoke cleared Carolina had a new chancellor, a towering stack of legal bills, and a million dollar P.R. firm trying to rescue its image.
Then, just when it seemed the ship might right itself, lighting struck out of a clear blue sky and a second scandal landed in the newspaper: Medicare claimed UNC Hospital had chiseled it out of $2.5 million.
This time there wasn’t a Carolina Gentleman anywhere in sight.