North Carolina's widespread academic scandal in its athletic program that came to light last spring reportedly includes a wide receiver plagiarizing from the website writings of four 11-year-olds. The Charlotte News and Observer reported that Erik Highsmith's blog for a communications class in 2011 closely resembled posts made by the grade schoolers on poultry farming. He was required to write about the topic as an assignment. According to the News and Observer, instructor J. Nikol Beckham identified the similarities. "I suggested that they consider that this isn't an isolated incident," she told the News and Observer, "and I expressed my disappointment considering everything that had been going on for the last year. And I received a great deal of assurances that it would be handled." Highsmith is the Tar Heels' leading receiver this season with 39 catches for 395 yards and two touchdown. North Carolina officials didn't respond to the newspaper's request for comment. But Steve Kirshcner, an associate athletic director, told the News and Observer, "Faculty, advisors, counselors, coaches and staff interact with our student-athletes daily and often remind them of the responsibility they have to do the right thing in all aspects of their lives - academically, athletically and socially. And we believe our student-athletes meet those responsibilities the overwhelming amount of the time."
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