The University of North Carolina on Thursday released a 59-page redacted version of the notice of allegations it received from the NCAA.
The allegations span a period from 2002 to 2011 in which the university is accused of five severe Level I violations encompassing academic improprieties and improper benefits to student athletes. Many of the allegations stem from more than 1,800 student-athletes enrolling in “paper classes” that gave high grades in classes that only required a paper be turned in at the end of the semester.
Upon the release of the notice of allegations, Chancellor Carol L. Folt and athletic director Bubba Cunningham issued a joint statement:
“We take the allegations the NCAA made about past conduct very seriously. This is the next step in a defined process, and we are a long way from reaching a conclusion. We will respond to the notice using facts and evidence to present a full picture of our case. Although we may identify some instances in the NCAA’s notice where we agree and others where we do not, we are committed to continue pursuing a fair and just outcome for Carolina.
“We believe the University has done everything possible to address the academic irregularities that ended in 2011 and prevent them from recurring. We have implemented more than 70 reforms and initiatives to ensure and enhance academic integrity. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of those measures and, wherever needed, put additional safeguards in place.”
While the allegations are lengthy, they don’t mention anyone involved with the football program specifically. The NCAA interviewed former coaches John Bunting, Butch Davis, Everett Withers, but none was mentioned in the report.
Instead the report focuses on academic counselors for the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes and faculty and staff members in the African and Afro-American Studies department, which facilitated the “paper classes.”
Last October, former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein released a report at the request of the university detailing the connections between student athletes and these “paper classes” as an effort to keep athletes eligible.
Wainstein noted that during the course of an 18-year period (1993-2011), athletes accounted for 1,871 of the enrollments of the paper classes. Football players had the largest enrollment at 963 or 51.4 percent.
Deborah Crowder, the former administrative manager for the African and Afro-American Studies department, started the “paper classes,” in 1993 in response to athletic department academic counselors complaining independent study was too difficult. These classes had no instructor, no attendance and required the student to turn in a paper at the end of the course for a high grade. Oftentimes, the content of the paper didn’t matter as long as it was turned in.
After Crowder retired in 2009, Julius Nyang’oro, the department chairman, continued the “paper classes” until August 2011.
Wainstein said the high grades in these classes allowed 329 student athletes to get their grade point averages above 2.0 to remain eligible for their sports.
UNC has 90 days to respond to the allegations, which it received on May 21. UNC will meet with the NCAA in Indianapolis in three months and a ruling will be issued nine moths after that hearing.
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