The death of former UNC Chancellor Bill Aycock reminds us that today’s legislature isn’t the first to ram through bad laws, that today’s attacks on higher education aren’t the first and that today’s athletic scandals aren’t the first.
As John Murawski noted in the N&O, Aycock was Chancellor in 1963 when the legislature passed the Speaker Ban Law in a single day, with little debate. Aycock took on the legislature. He said, “It would be far better to close the university than to let a cancer eat away at the spirit of inquiry and learning.”
In 1957, right after Aycock was named Chancellor, legislators tried to cut UNC finding, saying professors didn’t work hard and carried light loads. He fought back.
In 1961, the UNC basketball team was put on probation for recruiting violations. There were allegations of bribes for point-shaving. Aycock said, “Unfortunately, there are some…who seem to entertain a misguided notion that in athletics the means are not too important if the end result is victory on the scoreboard.”
It all sounds all too familiar.