Faculty report: Advisers pointed UNC athletes to Af-Am Department

Posted July 26, 2012
Updated July 27, 2012

UNC Department of African and Afro-American Studies

— In a report released Thursday, a faculty subcommittee at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that Tar Heel athletes told interviewers that they were directed to classes in the African and Afro-American Studies Department by staffers in the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes.

“It seems likely that someone on the African and Afro-American Studies Department called athletics counselors to tell them courses would be available,” the report states.

“I hope not. I believe that they understand their responsibility to support the student and to help them make wise choices, but it is not in their purview to direct students to particular courses," said Senior Associate Dean Bobbi Owen to a Board of Governors member who asked if the academic support staff was steering athletes to particular classes.

The subcommittee’s report did not find any errors in an initial internal investigation by UNC into the African and Afro-American Studies Department and said that “there was a clear finding that only the former chair Julius Nyang’Oro and Deborah Crowder, a former staff member had been involved.” However, they did say they were “struck by the potential confusion” for student-athletes being advised by athletic-support personnel and academic advisers.

Interviews by the subcommittee revealed varying accounts of who signed off on student forms for athletes. The root of the confusion comes from the fact that there are two separate advisory buildings – the Steele Building, used for academic advising, and the Loudermilk Center, which was designed for student-athlete academic purposes. The issue boils down to what the report calls, “an absence of systematic or regular communication between the athletic department and the university as a whole.”

Further interviews suggested that athletic advisers were discouraged from contacting faculty to discuss courses offered and were instead guided to the associate directors at the Loudermilk Center – those whose salaries are paid by the athletics department.

The findings also present a continued sense of secrecy coming out of the athletics department and the subcommittee’s report calls for more transparency throughout the university.

They state, “We were struck in general by the lack of sharing of information about athletics, athletic advising and the relationship between athletics and academics, to various constituencies across the campus, including the faculty.”

The report also recommends outside experts be brought in to look at how academics and athletics interact. UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp says he is supportive of that recommendation.

The subcommittee is the latest to take on the topic of athletics and academics at UNC, and within the African and Afro-American Studies Department in particular, since questions emerged when the NCAA began looking into the Tar Heel football program in 2009. The result of over-investigating in the opinion of the subcommittee is hindering the process.

“Most recently, there appears to be another example of duplication of efforts with an investigation initiated by UNC System President Tom Ross and undertaken by the Board of Governors,” the report reads. “The result is, on one hand, a sense of over-investigation by those called in for continual questioning, and on the other hand, little sense that the faculty and administration as a whole have a clear grasp at the larger issue at stake.”

The subcommittee’s final recommendations include centralizing advisers and putting in place a system for signing off on course forms. They suggest that in the case of student-athletes, advising should be done on the academic side and approved by the athletics side and not the other way around.

The report also suggests that there should be more monitoring of student records and transcripts and more oversight in university departments.


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  • swray001 Jul 27, 2012

    You need to just face this problem. This started in the Bill Dooley era. His assistant quit him, because he was doing underhanded things.

  • FAN72 Jul 27, 2012

    patrick85ed, your statement brought a smile to my face. Do you have the slightest idea how few UNC athletes enter the professional ranks in their chosen sport? It is a small minority that makes it to the pro level and even a smaller minority that makes it past rookie camp. This is true of athletes from all colleges and universities, not just UNC.

  • timtooltime777 Jul 27, 2012

    Nice going Erskin Bowels ! Give him a bonus !! The top is to heavy !!

  • timtooltime777 Jul 27, 2012

    It just goes to show where your tax payer money is going ! It goes to sports players who can't pass a fifth grade exam !! If they don't go pro and make millions, they still they have a degree from a North Caroilna university. Makes you wonder all the people out there who call themself's professionals !

  • cwood3 Jul 27, 2012

    JBW3-go back to the article for a minute and look at the date on the Sub Committee report-July 26th-YESTERDAY! That's why the story is here. It's new and more updated information concerning the accademic corruption at UNC. That is news. You may not like it because it exposes even more mess at your hallowed institution!

    And the beat goes on-we will see.

    Keep up the good work WRAL!!

  • bichonman Jul 27, 2012

    Are degrees in Afro-American studies in that great a demand. Sounds like what it has been found to be-a sham.

  • tiblet Jul 27, 2012

    UNC continues to state that the fraud was due to 2 individuals in AFAM - Dr. Nyang'oro & Deb Crowder

    The fraud here extends well beyond two people. Every student registered for those classes that received a grade and credit hours committed an honor code violation because they knew the class did not exist.

  • tiblet Jul 27, 2012

    I don't care if you are a UNC, Duke, or NCSU fan...for UNC to be rated the best public univeristy in the US and then have this scandal break is VERY BAD. Basically a dummy dept was created to teach fake classes so that athletes would not have to do any work and could focus on sports full time. Either because they didn't have the drive or the mental capacity to pass real classes. Heads will roll in Chapel Hill over this.

  • one Jul 27, 2012

    UNC continues to state that the fraud was due to 2 individuals in AFAM - Dr. Nyang'oro & Deb Crowder.

    UNC has also reported that there was abbarent classes in the summer of 2010

    But Deb Crowder retired in 2009
    & Dr. Nyang'oro was in Africa that summer

    So w/out either of them present, who set up those fake classes?

    It's much harder to keep track of your lies than it is to keep track of the truth.

  • Boylan Jul 27, 2012

    "NEWSFLASH! Division 1 football players take easy classes." JBW3

    This has nothing to do with easy classes. Many students take easy classes. It is about classes where credit was given for no work and classes not avaiable to the student population. If the truth is ever told the teflon basketball team will be hit hard.