Former UNC professor indicted on felony charge stemming from academic scandal

Monday December 2nd, 2013

UNC chairman (Harry Lynch/Getty Images) Former UNC professor Julius Nyang'oro is unlikely to face jail time. (Harry Lynch/Getty Images)

Julius Nyang'oro, a former African studies department chairman at the University of North Carolina who was allegedly part of an academic scandal involving the school's football and basketball teams, was indicted for a felony on Monday for accepting $12,000 for a class he didn't teach, according to The News & Observer in Raleigh.

Nyang'oro, 59, was indicted by a grand jury in Orange County, N.C., on a charge of obtaining property by false pretenses, according to the county's district attorney, Jim Woodall. The charge is reportedly a lower-level felony and is unlikely to include prison time if Nyang'oro is convicted.

UNC athletes represented 45 percent of the enrollment in Nyang'oro's classes — a disproportionate number compared to the rest of the university, as less than five percent of the student body plays a varsity sport. The football team had the highest number of students, with the men's basketball team "a distant second," according to the newspaper report.

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The scandal, which allegedly stretched back to the mid-90s, includes roughly 500 grade changes that were either suspected or confirmed to be unauthorized. Athletes accounted for slightly less than half the changes.

"The allegation is that he was paid to teach a face-to-face, lecture-style class and he accepted and kept $12,000 for that, when in fact he didn't teach that class in a face-to-face, lecture-style manner," Woodall said Monday.

In 2011, Nyang'oro created the class, AFAM 280: Blacks in North Carolina, a few days before the summer semester began. It was filled with 19 students — 18 football players and a former football player. UNC records show Nyang'oro was expected to teach the class, but it never met.

UNC officials conducted a probe led by former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin, but it found athletics did not play a role in the scandal because non-athletes had the same access to the classes as athletes and received similar grades.

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