Local News

Cooperation may get UNC prof absolved of fraud charge

Posted June 23, 2014

Former UNC-Chapel Hill professor Julius Nyang'oro, center, surrenders to Orange County authorities on Dec. 3, 2013, after his indictment on a charge of obtaining property by false pretense. Nyang'oro is accused of taking money for a class that he never taught. He is accompanied by his wife and attorney Butch Williams.

— Dr. Julius Nyang'oro, who faces a fraud charge for collecting payment for a class that never met at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is cooperating with an investigation there, Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Monday. That cooperation has Woodall considering dropping the charge against Nyang'oro, the former head of the UNC Department of African and Afro-American Studies.

A grand jury indicted Nyang'oro, 59, of 9 Wickersham Drive in Durham, on a felony charge of obtaining property by false pretense. Investigators say he accepted $12,000 for teaching a summer school course in 2011, but no lectures were ever held.

He resigned in August as chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, which was at the center of an investigation into academic fraud involving Tar Heel football players. Since that time, Rashad McCants, a former Tar Heel basketball player, made claims that he, too, was registered for classes he never attended and had papers written for him.

Woodall said Nyang’oro has provided "invaluable information" to Ken Wainstein, the former federal prosecutor hired in February to conduct the latest in a series of probes into the relationship between the Af-Am department and student-athletes. The pair have met at least three times, Woodall said.

Nyang'oro pleaded not guilty to the fraud charge in December and was released on a $30,000 bond. His next court date is scheduled for Tuesday morning. A fraud conviction carries a potential sentence of up to 30 months in prison, but authorities have said it's more likely Nyang'oro would get probation. 

An internal investigation led by former Gov. Jim Martin revealed that any academic irregularities at UNC were concentrated in Nyang'oro's department and dated to about 1994. Martin found no anomalies outside of that department and no specific link between the scandal and student-athletes.


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  • Erik Sheahan Jul 2, 2014
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    This mess is like a snarled fishing line...just a ball of conveluted mess. I attended UNC and am proud of the affiliation with UNC; however, I want the truth to come out and those responsible for this deplorable debacle to be fired and new standards to be developed and adhered to. I am retired military, and I guarantee you that if I did half of the unethical garbage that is being uncovered, my career would have been short lived. I now work at Duke Hospital, and again I say with certainty that if I worked with the unethical standards demonstrated by some of the staff and students at UNC, I would be unemployed. No matter where we may travel and not matter what organization for whom you may work, there are those who think they are above the law and can skirt by the rules set in place for honesty and moral standards. I shake my head and hope that once and for all, the truth will be revealed and the UNC I used to know is established again.

  • CarolinaSt0mp Jun 26, 2014

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    Most of those venting their anger here have no concept of "college"...just what they saw on movies and Tv shows like "The Paper Chase". LOL......so funny to watch the RAGE boiling over...lolol....no one's going to touch our banners, and that's really all they care about.

    Not gonna happen, ABC'Rs!

  • Frizz Jun 24, 2014

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    NCSU has had a computerized scheduling system in place for quite some time (which produces a great audit trail). UNC-ch only recently went to a computerized scheduling system. For virtually all of the time period these non-existantant class happened UNC-ch had a paper system in place - producing a valid audit trail is a nightmare and can easily be subverted.

    If you, or any one else, has ANY evidence of fraud at NCSU, ECU, App St, or any other state supported school, please bring it forward.

  • dogsturningonyou Jun 24, 2014


    If my name was recorded as the responsible instructor for a class I did not teach I'd make it very clear it was fake. If grade changes were made which did not accurately reflect the actual end result for a class the it would be a fake.
    There's a big difference between easy classes and fake classes. UNC is not being investigated for providing easy classes now are they?

  • byrdunc Jun 24, 2014

    Your tax dollars at work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • disgusted2010 Jun 24, 2014

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    This is what happens in the people's republic of Chapel Hill. Orange county is NOT part of NC and should have a fence erected around it.

  • CarolinaBlue (.791) Jun 24, 2014

    He taught some easy classes. They were supposed to meet but instead he assigned a paper. The classes were not "fake", they were just easier than other classes. Easy classes exist at every college. Should we investigate every single class which has a higher than average grade distribution? Let's start at NCSU...

  • uBnice Jun 24, 2014

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    There is a "protected class" but it is not Nyang’oro. He has been the only one accused and arrested.

    Butch Davis was not held liable at all and left with a $2.5 million severance. Even his assistant, John Blake, left with a $75k severance.

    Thorp and Baddour have moved on also. Baddour has his retirement and Thorp is a top administrator again.

    But Nyang’oro is shelling out a lot of money in attorney fees trying just to stay out of jail. However, don't get me wrong, I have no sympathy for him. But he should not be alone.

  • foodstamptrader Jun 24, 2014

    This criminal will go free with no consequences because he is of a "protected class". Yet, the fraudulent Af-Am department continues to operate under different names, robbing students of any worthwhile education and the taxpayers of educational funds. Shameful.

    Imagine the protection and "deal cutting" a similar incident in Jewish Studies or Russo-Ukranian studies would illicit?

  • uBnice Jun 24, 2014

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    I feel the same way. There is no way one professor could be responsible for this level of academic fraud that happened for over 10-15 years in that department.

    So far, not one administrator has been held accountable other than Nyang’oro. I hope the guy lays out the entire matrix of the academic fraud committed here.

    But my simple question is this: Suppose he fingers Thorp, Baddour, Roy Williams, and Butch Davis and all the past coaches during this period. Will anything be done?