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The PR Hits Keep Coming For UNC

Monday, January 13, 2014 1:00pm

Another week, another barrage of bad PR for UNC athletics. 

There really hasn't been any bad news to come out of UNC athletics in the past few days, except for the recent announcement that P.J. Hairston's playing days in Chapel Hill were done. But that doesn't mean the bad press has stopped. 

The latest salvo aimed at UNC came from this piece in Bloomberg Businessweek. And that piece was essentially responding to the response to a recent CNN piece in which UNC athletics played an unflattering starring role

UNC defenders are exasperated at this point and are wondering why their school continues to be raked over the coals for offenses that, while serious, are surely not unique to Chapel Hill. UNC detractors are thrilled that a school that has often touted its special way of doing things in athletics is finally being exposed as hypocritical. 

Both sides have a point. UNC is getting a harsher spotlight than many other schools out there. That Sports Illustrated expose about Oklahoma State just sort of disappeared, while new pundits keep emerging to take a shot at the Tar Heels. Of course, an athletics/academics scandal at UNC is more of a story because of the school's sterling reputation. The honors student who gets busted for a felony grabs the headlines; the 8th-grade dropout who commits the same crime doesn't. 

At this point, the "does UNC deserve it" question is pretty much moot, anyway. It's happening, and the school will have to continue to deal with the fallout. 

At this point it would seem that most of that fallout is descending upon the university at large. The issues there are about the school's overall academic reputation, numbers of applications, etc.

On the athletics side of the equation, recruiting is usually the way you measure the effect of bad publicity. If other variables - booster funding, attendance at games and such - are having problems, you'll eventually see it in the influx - or lack thereof - of talent. 

By that measure, UNC athletics is holding up okay, for now. The Tar Heels' have the No. 3 recruiting class for 2014 in basketball and the No. 26 class for 2014 in football, per 247Sports.com's composite rankings. 

Of course, the inclusion of the phrase "for now" was intentional. If the near future brings yet another round of bad PR for UNC athletics, the cumulative effect may well change.