North Carolina Athletes Major In Academic Fraud
The recruiting of college athletes to major institutions has become a pretty dirty business. Everyone is trying to get the upper hand to allure the top prospects their way, and things like “the rules” rarely get in the way. That’s why every day there are new allegations of illegal recruiting practices, from little things like hosting a barbecue with potential to recruits to the big stuff like buying houses and cars for family members. Last season, the North Carolina Tarheels came under some scrutiny during an NCAA investigation that cost coach Butch Davis his job and earned the team a postseason ban for 2012 along with three years probation. The school levied additional penalties by vacating all 16 wins from 2008 and 2009, reducing nine scholarships over the next three years and put the program on a two year internal probation. Of the list of transgressions that the school was caught doing, one of the more creative seems to be a form of academic fraud where the school created fake classes to boost athletes academic standing. Get ready to feel real good about that Tarheel dimploma, North Carolina alumni!
The school said Tuesday football players represented 246 of 686 enrollments (36 percent) in the 54 courses within the Department of African and Afro-American Studies between summer 2007 and summer 2011. Those classes lacked appropriate supervision and were called “aberrant” or were “taught irregularly” with limited contact between instructors and students, according to a university report released Friday.
The school’s investigation found fraud and poor oversight, including unauthorized grade changes and reports of grade rolls with what appear to be forged faculty signatures. The report found no evidence of favorable treatment for student-athletes or grades awarded without written work.
Yes, basically an entire department that would give out grades without actually meeting or having to have any contact with a professor, as long as you sent them some kind of written work at some point, no rush. At least they didn’t discriminate for atheletes and gave the free pass to everyone, leading angry undergrads all over Chapel Hill left asking, “HOW…did I not know about this class??”
While the probe found a high number of football players taking advantage of the easy credit, they weren’t the only athletes caught up. Men’s basketball players represented 23 enrollments, or about three percent, over the course of the investigation. Chances are, it was the three percent who were also going out for football.
The report is placing blame for this “oversight” at the feet of the former department chairman and a now-retired administrator. Julius Nyang’oro was the head of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies up until last year and he is getting set to retire in July. His name is on the grade rolls or he was listed as the instructor for 43 courses that were deemed aberrant or taught irregularly between 2007 and 2009. He was also the instructor for the only two classes that qualify as “irregularly taught” after 2009. His administrator, Deborah Crowder, worked directly under Nyang’oro and retired in September of 2009, which also corresponds to the last time an unauthorized grade change took place.
So what’s the story? Are these two masterminds of fraud just overzealous athletic supporters, old faculty trying to coast to retirement, or the fall guys for an institutional “oversight” that helped to attract nine players that would get selected in the first or second rounds of the NFL draft since 2007? North Carolina is historically a basketball school, with people often forgetting the Tar Heels have a football team, so it stands to reason they’d need to cut some corners to raise their profile with elite prospects. Prior to 2008, when Kentwan Balmer was selected in the first round (one year after the alleged academic fraud began), the Tar Heels hadn’t had a player drafter earlier than the fourth round since 2002, when Julius Peppers and Ryan Sims were selected in the first round. So how far up does this go? That depends on how much stock you put into conspiracy theories and how important you think schools find football success (hint: IT’S A LOT). In any case, good luck to any Tar Heels who decided to major in Afro-American Studies in the past five years…cause you’re probably going to need to go back to school.