Chapel Hill, N.C. — Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin used the words “academic investigator” Friday when describing his role in digging deeper into the multitude of improprieties within the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill African and Afro-American Studies Department.
The mounting evidence of no-show classes, altered grades, forged signatures and transcripts made public prompted the university to ask the former governor to lead the review in coordination with an outside consulting group.
“We need to have confidence that our higher education institutions are meeting their first obligation, which is to teach and to do research,” Martin said. “That, as part of the ancillary activities of what's so exciting (about) college level sports, (is) we want to see that is a legitimate part of the academic community.”
UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp announced Thursday that Martin will work with a consulting firm to see if academic irregularities began prior to 2007, and if so, how widespread the problem was.
So far, irregularities have been found in 54 African and Afro-American classes – where no-show or questionable courses appear to have benefited athletes, especially the UNC football team. After the initial UNC investigation, WRAL News found irregularities with independent study courses within the program, most of which were tied to former department chair Julius Nyang’oro.
Martin and his team plan to review more departments and all athletic programs at UNC-CH. He said that Thorp asked him to complete his work by mid-October and that he plans to get started early next week.
“And non-athletes, if you have a class that gives an easy grade to everybody, I think that needs to be identified as a corruption of the process,” Martin said.
Martin said Thorp told him everything is fair game in the investigation – no restrictions, no limitations. The report of Martin's findings will be made public once it is complete.
“(We will) go where the evidence takes us,” Martin said.
There's no dollar figure on the upcoming review. However, the school has paid nearly $600,000 for other scandal-related services. Outside legal bills are estimated at about $467,000 so far. Additionally, for the past 13 months, the school has paid a Raleigh-based communications firm $113,000.
A school spokesperson says that firm is providing services beyond this issue.
UNC confirmed Friday that communications consultant Doug Sosnick has been working for the school since Aug. 1. Details on his compensation have not been finalized.
The school says none of the bills are being paid with taxpayer dollars.
Michael McAdoo lawsuit
The North Carolina Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Michael McAdoo’s lawsuit against the school, Thorp and the NCAA on Sept. 13.
The former UNC football player, who was caught up in the academic scandal and lost a year on the field, filed a lawsuit last August seeking damages stemming from his being ruled ineligible. That lawsuit was dismissed in November and he filed an appeal in June.