Education

Former academic advisor making film about UNC scandal

Posted December 7, 2015

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— The athletic scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been headline news for years. But a former academic advisor says the media and the university have gotten the story wrong, and he is making a film about it.

Bradley Bethel calls his film "Unverified," a personal, human story. He became an academic advisor to athletes at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2011, shortly after the scandal broke, and left earlier this year. He says he’s taking on the media, investigators and the university on behalf of his colleagues.

“I saw unverified claims being propagated in the media,” he said. “My narrative is that it wasn't an athletics-driven scandal.”

He argues the media misrepresented the scandal where UNC used no-show paper classes to help keep athletes eligible. Bethel says he's most driven to defend fellow academic counselors fired over accusations they knowingly took part in the fraud.

“I hope to show that good people were unfairly blamed,” he said.

For the first time, the documentary includes interviews with counselors Jamie Lee and Beth Bridger. Lee says she was “just trying to help students get through college.”

Bethel says he doesn’t deny there was a scandal but says UNC admitted too many student athletes who needed remedial help.

“Being academically under prepared for UNC is not the same as being illiterate,” he said.

Bethel says he believes easy paper classes graded and guided by administrative assistant Debbie Crowder lacked oversight. He says he’s not a UNC apologist.

“When you see the film, you'll see I am critical of UNC,” he said, adding that he believes the university skipped over administrators and blamed counselors. “This is a complicated story that requires a lot of nuance, and I don't think there are just good guys and bad guys.”

“This has never been about protecting banners for me,” Bethel added. “This is about the good people I think who were misrepresented and scapegoated.”

After raising about $175,000 for the film, Bethel is using Kickstarter to get another $16,000 for post production and promotional costs. "Unverified" is set to premier at the Varsity Theater in Chapel Hill on Jan. 8.

13 Comments

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  • Raleigh Rose Dec 8, 2015
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    Oh Jeff...Is that the best you can come up with?

    All self-respecting North Carolinians should be upset about the scandal at UNC. It embarrasses our state, the university system, the students who went to UNC that didn't cheat, as well as cheapens an education at UNC. Not to mention how much time and money has been wasted on this because UNC took years to come clean. For someone to try and compare 2 decades of cheating and fraud with NCSU to try and make themselves feel better as Clinton did is just sad and ludicrous.

    I'm sorry you can't make the intellectual jump to realize why North Carolinians who see the scandal for what it is, are 'so upset' because UNC has brought shame on our state. So say what you want, but the fraud committed by UNC is historically bad and nothing you say will change that.

    You have no moral high ground.

  • Jeff Franklin Dec 8, 2015
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    Poor Raleigh Rose...she is so upset about UNC.

    LOL

  • Raleigh Rose Dec 8, 2015
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    When the UNC scandal is finally over and sanctions have been handed down it will rank as the worst NCAA scandal ever.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/unc-scandal/article10107554.html

    And aren't they still under academic probation from the accrediting body?
    http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article26613286.html

  • Jeff Franklin Dec 8, 2015
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    Wow...Rodney is full of conspiracy theories. He was wrong about the call in Saturday's night game, he is wrong here as well. Regardless of when the NCAA ruled, it would not have impacted this year's team. Just doesn't happen that way.

    But nice to know UNC owns the 5 inches of empty space between your ears, Rodney. You sure spend a lot of time worrying about them

  • Jeff Franklin Dec 8, 2015
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    LOL...I love to see the Red Ragers so up in arms about what happens in UNC.

    30 years of mediocrity will do that to a fan base apparently.

  • Joshua Phillips Dec 8, 2015
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    Clinton have you ever seen the interview with the person from the NCAA who investigated the case against NCSU and Jim Valvano. The guy who cleared Valvano and State of any academic shennanigans. The guy who said if I had a kid going to play college basketball I'd want him to be coached by Coach Valvano.

  • Raleigh Rose Dec 8, 2015
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    This might be the worst deflection ever. If you really think the bball infractions that happened under Coach V are worse than nearly 2 decades of academic fraud via paper classes and loss of institutional control at UNC, then I have a bridge to sell you. The extremely long length of time the academic fraud took place and the high number of students involved dwarfs other similar scandals at other schools.

    But it is funny that UNCheaters love to point out what happened at NCSU to try and take heat off their school. NCSU paid for their mistakes and it is in the past. It's not even in the list of top 10 NCAA scandals. The UNC NCAA investigation is very much in the present and will top the list when, if ever, it's done. The ONLY reason the NCAA will not hand down the death penalty is money, plain and simple. Even if it is what UNC deserves.

    But keep deflecting to NCSU if it soothes the hurt you feel. Whatever.

    Bye Felicia!

  • Clinton Tingen Dec 8, 2015
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    Have any of you read 'Personal Fouls' by Peter Golenbock? It's eye opening for sure and should be considered before you keep talking about the worse scandal in academic history. 470 will mean something to you then

  • Rodney Hill Dec 8, 2015
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    The NCAA is supposed to rule this spring. The CHeats "conveniently" self-reported minor infractions back in August to delay the NCAA. "Conveniently" this means the NCAA won't rule until after BBall season.

    As dirty as UNC is, I wouldn't expect much from the NCAA. This is the worst scandal in the history of the NCAA (despite what the CHeat fans want to believe). However, the NCAA isn't going to slay one of its cash cows.

  • Brian Jones Dec 8, 2015
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    Dude....Bradley......UNC athletes were registered for classes in the AFAM/AFRO studies department. They didn't have to go to class. They submitted forged "end of term papers" (some were forged by their athletic department supplied tutors). They got passing grades. End of story.

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