Public Records

1.8M pages of UNC scandal records now searchable

Posted July 7

— With a new release of documents in June, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has to date produced 1.8 million pages of records from the investigation into academic fraud that steered student athletes into no-show classes for nearly two decades.

UNC Chapel Hill Old Well Interactive: Search thousands of UNC scandal records

The additional records are now available in a WRAL app updated this week that allows the public to read and search the entire collection of emails, memos and reports all at once.

UNC-CH began releasing documents on its website in October 2015 in response to a request from The News & Observer and The Daily Tar Heel for records related to the fraud investigation conducted by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein.

Wainstein's probe, funded by the university, found that from 1993 to 2011, academic counselors helped student-athletes sign up for "paper classes" that required only a written assignment to pass and "awarded high grades with little regard for the quality of a student’s work."

Several employees were terminated or disciplined in the wake of the findings, and the university is still grappling with the NCAA after the governing body's investigation expanded to multiple sports programs. The school is set to meet with the NCAA's committee on infractions in August.

The university spent $4.25 million in legal help to redact private information and prepare documents for release in response to the records request. Campus officials say the request required the review of about 5 million pages of documents, the largest request in the school's history.

As of the June release, UNC spokesperson Rick White said the university has fully responded to the request. White said about 200,000 pages of documents turned out to be duplicates, while others were protected by federal and state exemptions to public records law.

Searching on the app

The document application, created by WRAL and powered by a Web-based service called DocumentCloud, allows users to read and search nearly 2 million pages of records by names and other keywords.

For example, our app allows users to search for Butch Davis, UNC-Chapel Hill's former head football coach who was fired as the scandal began to brew in July 2011. His name returns 5,379 results, allowing readers to find mentions of him in the documents, including many emails he sent and received.

Readers can also search for Julius Nyang'oro, a professor at the center of the scandal who chaired UNC-Chapel Hill's Department of African and Afro-American Studies. His name returns more than 1,998 results. A search for Mary Willingham turns up 9,140 results. She's the university's former academic adviser who spoke out against lax standards for student-athletes and has since written a book about the scandal.

The app includes shortcut searches for some of the most well-known names mentioned in the documents and in the Wainstein Report.

Readers can run their own searches as well, but not all names will show up. The university has redacted students' names and other information it has deemed private.

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that the June release of documents was the university's final records release in response to the public records request from The News & Observer and The Daily Tar Heel. Although the university said it reviewed 5 million pages of records, only 1.8 million pages were released due to exemptions in state public records law.


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