Rashad McCants, who was the No. 2 scorer on North Carolina's 2004-05 championship team, told ESPN that he seldom went to class — some of which were bogus — and that tutors wrote his papers, according to a report in Outside the Lines.
McCants also said coach Roy Williams was aware.
The Outside the Lines report was scheduled to air Friday afternoon at 3 ET.
The report says that McCants would have been academically ineligible had he not been provided the assistance.
McCants said Williams knew about the "paper-class" system — classes that didn't require students to attend; they were required to submit only one term paper to receive a grade.
Williams responded in a statement Friday:
"I strongly disagree with what Rashad (McCants) has said. In no way did I know about or do anything close to what he says and I think the players whom I have coached over the years will agree with me. I have spent 63 years on this earth trying to do things the right way and the picture he portrays is not fair to the University or me."
Williams also defended his players and program: "Our players have been deeply hurt over the last couple of years, and again today, by the comments and innuendo concerning their academic achievements. The young men who accepted scholarships to play basketball at this University have done so expecting a world-class basketball experience, in addition to a world-class education. Obviously, we pride ourselves on being one of the top basketball programs in the country, but equally important, in helping our players grow academically and socially, as we promised their parents we would."
McCants told ESPN that he made the Dean's List in Spring 2005 despite not attending any of his four classes for which he received straight-A grades.
McCants left school after his junior season and was selected 14th in the 2005 NBA draft by Minnesota. He last played in the NBA during the 2008-09 season.
In a 2004 interview with WRAL-TV, McCants compared UNC basketball to having a job. He said, "To get up, go to school, get in here, lift weights and play basketball. That's my 9 to 5."
From the Outside the Lines report:
McCants, who said it was common for basketball players to major in African-American Studies, said he assumed tutors writing papers for athletes was to be expected and he didn't question it while he attended UNC.
"I thought it was a part of the college experience, just like watching it on a movie from 'He Got Game' or 'Blue Chips,'" McCants said. "... when you get to college, you don't go to class, you don't do nothing, you just show up and play. That's exactly how it was, you know, and I think that was the tradition of college basketball, or college, period, any sport. You're not there to get an education, though they tell you that.
"You're there to make revenue for the college. You're there to put fans in the seats. You're there to bring prestige to the university by winning games."
It's the latest revelation in an ongoing scandal at the school.
Mary Willingham, a reading specialist at UNC who resigned after blowing the whistle, detailed encounters with athletes who had never read a book or were incapable of writing a paragraph. The academic support program tolerated plagiarism and helped athletes remain eligible.
Willingham told CNN in January that her research of 183 football or basketball players from 2004-12 found 60 percent reading at fourth- to eighth-grade levels and roughly 10 percent below a third-grade level.
UNC had called Willingham's findings flawed after its own internal review of her data, which she provided to Provost James W. Dean Jr., on Jan. 13. She has stood by her findings.
Willingham met in April with former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein, who was hired by UNC to conduct a review of possible fraud in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department.
The NCAA sanctioned the football program for improper benefits and academic misconduct involving a tutor, but there were few penalties overall.
UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham. In a statement to Outside the Lines, said: "It is disappointing any time a student is dissatisfied with his or her experience. I welcome the opportunity to speak with Rashad McCants about returning to UNC to continue his academic career — just as we have welcomed many former student-athletes interested in completing their degrees."
Contributing: The Associated Press