Questions raised by UNC-Chapel Hill bogus courses
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) A report detailing the academic and athletic scandal that has lingered over the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill raises a number of questions about what's next for the university and its athletics programs. Here's a look at some of the questions raised and what will happen next.
WHO WAS DOING IT?
The investigation found more than 3,100 athletes and everyday students took no-show classes in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department for nearly two decades, resulting in artificially high grades while faculty and university administrators either missed red flags or looked the other way. Almost half the students enrolled in these bogus classes were athletes, more than 10 times their proportion in the overall student population. Athletics staffers steered players to the classes when they struggled to meet the grades required to continue competing.
HOW DID IT WORK?
The now-retired department secretary started the classes with minimal requirements not long after professor Julius Nyang'oro became chairman in 1992. Although she was not a faculty member, Deborah Crowder registered students in the courses, assigned course topics and handed out A's and B's after a quick scan of final papers regardless of work quality. By 1999, Crowder began offering lecture classes that didn't meet, apparently to get around limits on the number of independent studies courses students could take. After she retired in 2009, grades for football players began sliding. Their academic counselors approached Nyang'oro, who agreed to continue the paper courses.
WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?
The long-running scandal started with an NCAA investigation into improper benefits for football players in 2010. That probe led to the firing of coach Butch Davis, a one-year postseason ban and 15 fewer football scholarships. Former Tar Heels football player Michael McAdoo sued the school after being ruled ineligible to play for academic misconduct. Documents submitted in court showed he plagiarized work on an essay that a tutor helped him assemble and listing Nyang'oro as the instructor, leading to more scrutiny. Then the academic transcript of former Tar Heel and NFL All-Pro Julius Peppers was posted online showing he might have stayed eligible to play because of unusually high grades in nine African studies courses.
DOES THE DEPARTMENT STILL EXIST?
Yes. It's been renamed the African, African American and Diaspora Studies Department. Three members of the department's faculty were named in the report as having some knowledge of the former secretary's shadow operation, though they may not have been fully aware of the bogus classes, the report said.
WHAT ABOUT THE STUDENTS?
The group that accredits UNC-Chapel Hill required the school to contact some of the students who were in the bogus classes and give them an opportunity to take another at no cost, the News & Observer of Raleigh reported in August. About a fifth of the nearly 50 students took another course. The school also offered substitute classes for 304 graduates who had taken the classes, but few expressed an interest.
WHAT ABOUT THE NCAA?
The NCAA this summer reopened its probe into academic misconduct and is reviewing the report by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein. Scholarships could be reduced or wins could be vacated if the NCAA determines its rules have been broken. The NCAA is big on university administrators maintaining ''institutional control'' over sports programs. The collegiate sports governing board cited lack of effective oversight among its reasons for hitting Penn State and Miami with penalties in recent years.
University Chancellor Carol Folt said four current campus employees are going to be fired and five others are facing disciplinary review, but Folt wouldn't identify them. The school also is taking a number of administrative steps to prevent a repeat, including expanding confidential channels for people to report problems.
Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio