Lawyer in UNC athletics probe: Investigation not complete
Posted June 20, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Ken Wainstein opened his remarks to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Friday with a negative.
"Our investigation is not complete. It will be made public once it is complete," he said.
The former federal prosecutor was hired in February to determine the facts around the creation of "paper classes" in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies and the extent of their use by student athletes.
Wainstein's appearance comes two weeks after former Tar Heel basketball star Rashad McCants claimed he played on the school's 2005 national championship team despite not performing any academic work or attending classes. McCants' allegations are the latest in a scandal that began as an offshoot of a 2010 NCAA investigation into the university's football program.
Wainstein said investigators have interviewed more than 80 people, including Julius Nyang’oro, the former Af-Am department head who faces a criminal charge for accepting payments for classes he allegedly never taught, and Nyang'oro's former aide Deborah Crowder.
"They’ve made themselves completely available to us. They have given us as much time as we’ve asked for, so I can’t complain at all about their cooperativeness or willingness to sit down and talk with us," Wainstein said.
One person who hasn't spoken to the investigators is McCants. Wainstein said he was invited for an interview in May but declined. Since he went public with his complaints to ESPN, investigators have again invited him to talk to them.
"We’ve now sent a new letter reiterating our invitation to speak to him, and we’re hopeful that will happen," Wainstein said.
He listed some of the questions he's been asking for the board, reflecting the answers long sought by Carolina alumni, fans and opponents:
- Were these real classes?
- Did students do real work in these classes?
- What was the role of the athletics department in relation to these classes?
- Did athletics department personnel have a hand in creating, maintaining or encouraging the Af-Am department to offer these classes?
- Did athletics personnel encourage student-athletes to take these classes?
"We’re looking at the level of knowledge of people within UNC-Chapel Hill throughout the ranks – faculty, academic advisers, athletics personnel, administrators –across the board," Wainstein said.
His team has reviewed nearly 1.5 million documents, including emails. They also have reviewed thousands of student transcripts dating back to the 1980s.
Tom Ross, president of the UNC System, and Peter Hans, chairman of the Board of Governors, reiterated their desire to get to the bottom of the issue and the reason Wainstein was hired.
"I believe it’s imperative we address all the unanswered questions and set the ship right," Hans said.