Education

Former governor to dig deeper into UNC academics

Posted August 16, 2012

— Leaders at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill have asked former Gov. Jim Martin to lead an investigation into academic improprieties at the school. Martin will coordinate with an outside consulting group and will report his findings to the UNC Board of Governors.

"We wanted to get to the bottom of this. We've always wanted to get to the bottom of this," Chancellor Holden Thorp said. "As I think anybody can see, it's a very complicated situation with a lot of layers."

The academic scandal was sparked last summer when, in attempt to get reinstated to the team, football player Michael McAdoo's lawyers included an assignment for a class in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies in their court filings. A review of that paper showed that it borrowed heavily from another source.

Since that time, reports have questioned the practices of the department and threatened to draw in the wider university.

Thorp and others have maintained that any improprieties ended with the retirement of former department chairman Julius Nyang’oro and staffer Deborah Crowder.

In May, an internal UNC investigation revealed unauthorized grades, forged signatures and other irregularities in 54 courses in that department. Martin is tasked with looking beyond the scope of that report for any other irregularities in courses before 2007.

Thorp said the university wanted to find someone who is objective, not affiliated with UNC and holds the trust of the people of North Carolina to conduct the new investigation. "The one name that came to mind was Jim Martin," Thorp said.

A faculty subcommittee report in July noted that advisers in the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes directed athletes to classes in the African and Afro-American Studies Department, but still pinned the blame only on Nyang'Oro and Crowder.

A WRAL News investigation into independent study courses offered through the Af-Am department found lots of athletes enrolled and earning sometimes double the number of credits offered by other departments for the same type of course.

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp Web only: Thorp announces new UNC investigation

"Every time we got to another layer, we were satisfied that we had gotten to that," Thorp said."But we understand that the work that we did, while we think it's strong and thorough, if people have further questions, we welcome those questions."

"We are determined to make sure that our internal controls are such that irregularities of the past will not recur," Thorp wrote in a letter to trustees, faculty and staff Thursday.

Trustees said they welcomed the independent investigation. "There's still work to be done so that we fully understand why this happened," trustee Lowry Caudill said.

After Martin's report, the university will retain another task force to provide analysis of and recommendations for the relationship between athletics and academics at UNC. "Our goal is to engage the entire campus community in a meaningful discussion and analysis of the role of athletics in the life of the university," Thorp wrote.

He also announced a planned reorganization of the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes, including a new leader.

UNC students said they think the moves would ultimately reflect well on the university.

"It's a good thing so that it can clean up Carolina's name," student I.K. David said.

"(It's going to) give us a better reputation as students here and try to keep the prestige of the school," said student Ryan Campbell.

Thorp told WRAL News that the changes announced Thursday were long in the works but were finalized only recently. No timetable for the completion of Martin's investigation has been set.

78 Comments

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  • jeremydb75 Aug 20, 2:55 p.m.

    I love how the NCAA said this isn't of their concern. The same thing happened to FSU, and they recieved probation. Why is this case any different? Roy Williams left Kansas on probation, but everyone in North Carolina calls Calipari a cheater. My point is, if you cheat like this, you should be justly punished. They gave Penn State sanctions, when their offense had nothing to do with sports. It was some sick pedophile homosexual that was getting his rocks off with the help of little kids. This has to with athletes cheating through college. So there should be some kind of punishment.

  • anti-Hans Aug 17, 4:39 p.m.

    ShowBiz, let me explain in another sense.

    If I give you a rubber check for $1M and you deposit it into your account. The bank realizes the check was fraudulent. Do you still have the $1M in your bank account?

    The phony classes were the rubber check. The bank account is the GPA and the eligibility. The problem is they wrote checks all over town thinking they had $1M in the bank account.

  • anti-Hans Aug 17, 4:34 p.m.

    "Exactly where in Peppers transcript does it show academic fraud? The NCAA and any person that has investigated the AFAM at UNC looked into all of this. Julius Peppes transcript doesn't show us anything new whatsoever. Again, how does the transcript show fraud? Seriously? Nothing new was learned. The NCAA and any person that investigate the AFAM department already looked into how long, with who, and what all this entailed. Nothing new was learned."
    ShowBiz

    Try this again - the transcript shows the player was barely eligible, thanks to the grades in the AA classes. The AA classes that were not really classes, but a grade given to him. So if he were not given those grades, he would have been ineligible.

  • Cahulawassee Aug 17, 3:23 p.m.

    "These are not the droids you're looking for." - ShowBiz

  • ShowBiz Aug 17, 3:15 p.m.

    Exactly where in Peppers transcript does it show academic fraud? The NCAA and any person that has investigated the AFAM at UNC looked into all of this. Julius Peppes transcript doesn't show us anything new whatsoever. Again, how does the transcript show fraud? Seriously? Nothing new was learned. The NCAA and any person that investigate the AFAM department already looked into how long, with who, and what all this entailed. Nothing new was learned.

  • Me again Aug 17, 3:02 p.m.

    Holden Thorpe should've hired PackPride. They would dig in and tell you everything you need to know.

  • Cahulawassee Aug 17, 2:51 p.m.

    "Not an evolution - just a reality. Suck it up. Someone else will be next." - Native NC gal

    The reality that's been institutionalized in Chapel Hill is becoming quite clear thanks to the Pack message board denizens. Well, as long as someone else is next, I guess it's okay.

    ps nothing to suck up - my team will be playing in the postseason

  • Cahulawassee Aug 17, 2:41 p.m.

    ShowBiz - are you following this story at all? The Peppers transcript shows that the academic fraud at UNC-CH goes well beyond the timeline offered by the administration after it's "thorough" investigation. Furthermore, the only courses (with two exceptions, one being PE) that Peppers made B's in were AfAm courses, many "taught" by Nyang'oro. Also, Peppers was not barely eligible - he wasn't academically eligible with his GPA and once you eliminate the fraudulent courses he shouldn't have been allowed on campus.

    Carry on with your blue-tinted glasses.

  • ShowBiz Aug 17, 2:18 p.m.

    Bellar, yes, but wasn't that already looked before? Hasn't what you just typed been documented by UNC and looked at by multiple parties already? That is not NEW information. Which is my question: What did the Peppers transcript bring up that was new? All it showed was that he barely was eliglbe and he did in fact have bad grades (some being in the AFAM classes). That is actually a positive thing right? If it showed he was recieving A's and B's in AFAM but D's and F's in other studies that would've been a red flag. But that was not the case. Once again, what NEW information did the trascript show that was not already out there?

  • Bellar1 Aug 17, 2:09 p.m.

    ShowBiz
    The question is not whether Peppers allegedly coasted through some easy courses as star athletes have been allowed to do for decades, but whether these courses were legitimate, i.e., did they meet at all, were there any assignments, was the professor vacationing in Africa as it has been alleged on other AFAM courses, etc. It's bigger than you suggest. Or it may be, in fairness, the facts have yet to be proven.

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