Education

UNC prof linked to football investigation resigns position

Posted September 1, 2011
Updated September 15, 2011

— Professor Julius Nyang'oro, chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina, resigned that position Thursday. It was an assignment for Nyang'oro's class that brought to light apparent plagiarism by Michael McAdoo, a former member of the UNC football team.

McAdoo, who was ruled permanently ineligible in 2010 by the NCAA in the course of an investigation of players receiving impermissible benefits, filed suit in July to force the university to let him back on the field in 2011. McAdoo's lawyer, Noah Huffstetler, argued that the NCAA violated its own procedures in ruling McAdoo ineligible. He further argued that the NCAA's decision was based on information that was factually wrong and never gave McAdoo a fair chance.

In support of his case, Huffstetler provided to the court a paper written by McAdoo for Nyang'oro's class which, when compared against common plagiarism tracking tools on the internet, showed large portions of the text that appeared to have been copied from other sources.

The student-run UNC Honor Court found that McAdoo had improper help from a tutor with the works cited but overlooked any irregularities in the body of the paper.

After a hearing in McAdoo's case, Chancellor Holden Thorp asked for a faculty-led review of the Honor Court.

In a statement Thursday, he said, "Because academic integrity is paramount, we have every obligation to get to the bottom of these issues. This process has been difficult, and we’ve been through a lot this past year, but the only right thing to do is to pursue the facts and fix the problems.”

Thorp cited the same academic integrity in firing head football coach Butch Davis on July 27 after more than a year of NCAA scrutiny of the program. "I have lost confidence in our ability to come through this without harming the way people think of this institution. Our academic integrity is paramount, and we must work diligently to protect it. The only way to move forward and put this behind us is to make a change,” Thorp said that day.

In Thursday's announcement, Thorp said UNC officials have been looking at “possible irregularities with courses that included undergraduate students" in Nyang’oro’s department.

Nyang'oro's students included one of McAdoo's teammates, Marvin Austin. According to a transcript published by The News & Observer. Austin earned a B+ in the 400-level class in African-American studies as a freshman, despite SAT scores that indicated he was a poor reader. Nyang'oro would have had to give his consent to allow Austin into the class.

Thorp said the university would continue "to review the facts to determine whether there have been any violations of university policy and to determine what additional actions are necessary."

Professor Evelyne Huber will serve as interim chair of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies. Nyang'oro will continue in a teaching role.

58 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • 903 national champions Sep 2, 10:18 a.m.

    "Why is he still allowed to teach?"

    What's even worse is he probably will still be paid the same... View More

    — Posted by timbo10.0

    He might still be on the faculty and he might still be listed as "teaching". I think it's probably more like $159,000/year to stay quiet.

  • aspenstreet1717 Sep 2, 9:56 a.m.

    Generating revenue for the athletic department. Hmm OK well lets through all our morals,ethics and integrity out the window. For what? Carolina still has a very mediocre team.

  • Honesty first Sep 2, 9:53 a.m.

    Let's see. The Professor allows a questionable freshman to take a 400 level course that he teaches. The student gets a B+. The Prof accepts a paper from another student where the only thing not plagarized is the students name and he does not catch any of it. The Prof hires an agent to teach a course and does not even notify his superior, the Dean of the college of Arts and Sciences. He steps down as dept. head.
    The coach of the football team, never accused of anything other than
    "not knowing" is fired by the University Chancellor.
    Question--Which one has damaged the University reputation more?
    Answer--The Professor and the Chancellor!!!!!!
    Question--Which are still employeed by the University?
    Answer--The professor and Chancellor

  • twc Sep 2, 9:39 a.m.

    Athletics is probably the most valuable asset that UNC has. Without athletics the corruption probably would never be exposed. It's a question, I guess, of which came first, the corruption or the athletics?

    If they really want to reclaim their honor they need to get rid of anything and everything and anyone and everyone connected with the current crisis.

  • YippiYiyoKiYay Sep 2, 9:39 a.m.

    UNC has a dirty program. From the field to the admin offices, it's just dirty. No sports for 5 years. None. Nada. Then the kids who want an education because they're actually smart will be away from the cancer that is UNC athletics. Holden, you need to go too.

  • twc Sep 2, 9:32 a.m.

    aspenstreet, everyone knows what that department is all about; but no one wants to stir it.

    As far as the "professor" is concerned, he knows enough that they couldn't just get rid of him like they did the coach. After all, his deal has been going on for years. How would you explain not knowing about what he could reveal?

  • driverkid3 Sep 2, 9:29 a.m.

    RM24::Because of these sport MANY students get a FREE education, many of whom would not go to college if not for sports.

    That's all well and fine, but it looks to me like the education is wasted with some of them. I listen to interviews on the news, and the english is absolutely atrocious! I think some of them are graduating without having learned a thing.....all for the sport they play. And what happens if they have a serious injury and can't play anymore? How many of them can actually use that education to find a job that will support them and a family?

  • Tim in Raleigh Sep 2, 9:29 a.m.

    Are they investigating his connections with other sports? It's been reported that his courses were popular with the basketball team as well.

  • Billfisher Sep 2, 9:22 a.m.

    Aspenstreet, there is nothing silly about a major university's largest revenue generator... Have you ever seen a $4 million dollar check brought home from a writing competition?

  • aspenstreet1717 Sep 2, 9:19 a.m.

    still teaching? The whole African studies department is of dubious academic value. It's all part of what UNC Chapel Hill stands for.

More...