Julius Peppers was a dominant football player at North Carolina, and 2001 was his best season with the Tar Heels. He was a 1st team All-American and won a host of awards as the nation’s top defensive player. With offensive lines geared to slow him, teammates like Ryan Sims and David Thornton thrived, too, and UNC made the Peach Bowl, where it beat Jason Campbell, Ronnie Brown and Auburn, 16-10. Peppers was drafted 2nd overall by the Panthers in 2002. Sims and Thornton were drafted too, but were largely considered NFL busts.
But since Peppers’s UNC transcript was accidentally posted online, anyone can see what classes he took (or rather, was steered to). And with his eligibility in serious doubt heading into the Spring 2001 semester, but UNC needing him on the field in the Fall of 2001, here’s the list of classes he took in the shaky Afro and African-American Studies department:
AFAM – Civil Rights (FA – which means he didn’t take the Final exam, but it wouldn’t have mattered if he did)
AFAM – Black Nationalism (INC)
AFAM – Independent Study (B/INC)
AFRI – Contemporary Africa (B/INC)
In the summer, Peppers also took an AFAM class – “AFAM Seminar.”
One could argue Peppers was an AFAM major, so naturally, he needed all those classes. True, but it is interesting that in the Fall, only two of Peppers’ four classes were in the AFAM major. The other two were in Philosophy and Sociology.
(Peppers didn’t register one grade in any class in the Fall of 2001, which is another post for another day. Four months after the season ended, he was drafted.)
Given the history of how fraudulent the AFAM major appears, it sure looks like UNC steered Peppers to classes where it could hand him a grade to keep him eligible. Later, two of those “B’s” turned into “Incompletes.”
The best part? Peppers only barely qualified academically by NCAA standards to play that Fall. He already had enough hours to meet the NCAA benchmark; all he needed to do was pass two classes so that his GPA wouldn’t fall below this level:
In the 2001-02 manual, NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 says a student entering the fourth year [Ed. Peppers redshirted] must have completed 50 percent of his or her degree requirements with a GPA that’s at least 95 percent of the institution’s minimum GPA standard for that stage of degree progress.
For Peppers, those requirements would have been 60 hours – he had 72 – and a GPA of 1.805 – he checked in at 1.824.
But according to this UNC eligibility requirement document (see page 304), he fell short of school standards. He played anyway.
Previously: UNC Screwed Up and Now Julius Peppers’s College Transcript is Online For Everyone to See
Previously: North Carolina Academic Scandal: Why Did Basketball Players Stop Majoring in African and Afro-American Studies in 2009?