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Senator calls for criminal probe, trustees to resign at UNC

Posted November 20, 2012

— In a sharply worded column that appeared online Tuesday, Republican State Sen. Thom Goolsby called for a criminal probe of the academic scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the resignation of Board of Trustees.

In the piece, posted on carolinacolumns.com, Goolsby wrote “the UNC academic fraud scandal is like a pesky staph infection that just won’t go away for university officials – nor should it.

“It is past time for a criminal investigation into these fraudulent activities,” added Goolsby, R-New Hanover. “For far too long, academic scandals have been treated with the soft glove approach. The local district attorney’s office should begin an immediate criminal probe. If the DA does not wish to handle this matter, he should request that the Attorney General appoint a Special Prosecutor to handle this case.”

An NCAA investigation into the football program revealed that academic assistance to student-athletes at UNC went far beyond ethical conduct and occurrences of plagiarism and no-show classes were commonplace. Through both the NCAA investigation and other public records requests by a coalition of media outlets, including WRAL News, the depth of the academic improprieties has continued to grow.

In response to Goolsby's column, school officials said Tuesday that they are cooperating with three separate reviews of the school's policy. State Bureau of Investigation officials, former Gov. Jim Martin and the UNC System Board of Governors are looking into the school's academic practices.

Goolsby, an attorney in private practice and adjunct law professor at Campbell University, also derided the students and criticized the flagship school. He serves on legislative committees for higher education as well as Appropriations on Justice and Public Safety.

“These student-athletes (the term “student” is used lightly here) played in the all-important category of revenue-producing sports,” he wrote. “It’s the gladiators who bring crowds to the arena and it should surprise no one that schools will do whatever it takes to field the best possible team. What is shameful is the continued smokescreen produced by the UNC administration around this scandal.”

In August, UNC appointed Martin to lead an internal investigation into academic fraud, tasking him to pinpoint the origins and depth of the scandalous activity. Meanwhile, the NCAA has not commented on the case other than saying additional sanctions are a possibility.

The initial NCAA probe into the university sought to uncover players’ relationships with agents and their receiving of impermissible benefits. In all, 14 players were forced to miss playing time during the 2012 season and a few were deemed permanently ineligible to participate further in collegiate athletics for their acceptance of money, gifts and trips.

The investigation found that former player Michael McAdoo received impermissible academic help from a tutor, and subsequent documents uncovered a plagiarized paper. McAdoo was one of the players ruled ineligible and has since moved on to play in the NFL.

Goolsby said that the university is using Gov. Martin’s investigation as a way to avoid answering questions brought forth by the public and the media, noting that Chancellor Holden Thorp has refused to talk about the subject since the internal probe was launched.

Thorp announced in September he will be resigning from his position as chancellor and return to teaching chemistry and focus on his research. The NCAA sanctions against the football team have also led to change with multiple athletic positions including a new director of athletics and head football coach.

In his column, Goolsby also recommended the Board of Governors ask for the resignations of current Board of Trustees members, noting "they have shown little willingness to get to the truth of this scandal and cure the infection."

“The reputation of the state’s flagship university is at stake and someone must take this matter seriously,” Goolsby wrote. “Any prosecutor worth his salt would turn detectives loose on staff and administrators involved in the fraud and subsequent cover-up.”

93 Comments

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  • Observing Sassie and Laughing Nov 21, 5:15 p.m.

    PDC - 1996 posted:

    "Blowing hot air and calling for additional bureaucratic investigations into the woes of the UNC scandal just paints you as another out-of-touch politician in a suit."

    I doubt that Senator Goolsby is just some political suit, as you call him, blowing some hot air. I would suspect there are others within that legislature who share his thoughts about
    UNC's problems. Without a doubt, UNC needs to clean and rid itself of the trash it's mired in.

    If there are lingering concerns or questions at the close of the Martin investigation you can be assured that there will be those in the legislature who will be asking some pointed, direct questions at UNC. If that happens, it's going to be bad for UNC.

  • superman Nov 21, 4:29 p.m.

    I would like to know how low they had to drop the entrance requirements for them to be allowed to attend college.

  • rush Nov 21, 1:56 p.m.

    "*sigh* Mr. Senator, please spend every minute of your time as an elected North Carolina representative working to get our economy going and adding jobs in our state. Blowing hot air and calling for additional bureaucratic investigations into the woes of the UNC scandal just paints you as another out-of-touch politician in a suit. If you can't get a clue, maybe someone in our state could sell you one. At least that would help the economy in a small way."

    There's 170 lawmakers in NC, I'm sure they can handle multiple tasks concurrently. And I am all for investigating state employees who are committing fraud, abusing the public's trust, and misusing taxpayer funding.

  • Knightwolf Nov 21, 1:27 p.m.

    as far as getting the Attorney General involved, guess where Roy Cooper got his law degree? Yep, you got it! UNC-CHeat.

  • PDC - 1996 Nov 21, 12:57 p.m.

    *sigh*
    Mr. Senator, please spend every minute of your time as an elected North Carolina representative working to get our economy going and adding jobs in our state. Blowing hot air and calling for additional bureaucratic investigations into the woes of the UNC scandal just paints you as another out-of-touch politician in a suit. If you can't get a clue, maybe someone in our state could sell you one. At least that would help the economy in a small way.

  • tayled Nov 21, 11:29 a.m.

    As much as this Wolfpacker loves to see UNC in hot water, I want to know how illiterate student-athletes get out of elementary school, and middle school and graduate from high school. Is it possible that some groups of students are just pushed ahead so that our precious government/public schools won't appear to have a worse racial achievement gap than they have now? Seems that educators all up and down the line should get sued for delivering a fradulent product.

    You are exactly right. The underachievers get passed on without question, especially if they are star athletes. Take a look at the number of students in our community college system who are taking pre-requisite courses to make up for a lack of math, reading, and English they they should have gotten in HS. They did not get it because they were simply moved on.

  • tayled Nov 21, 11:26 a.m.

    Politicians need to stay out of this. It's like the pot calling the kettle black.

  • vile garbage Nov 21, 11:06 a.m.

    Yeah politicians are all clean. Doouchebag. Find something to do with your time and my tax dollars.

  • QC Nov 21, 10:39 a.m.

    Fine. Likewise...

    NC House Speaker Thom Tillis' chief of staff recently resigned due to a lobbying scandal. This scandal is like athlete's foot that won't go away. I think all state government officials should be criminally investigated immediately, and we should start with Republican State Sen. Thom Goolsby!

    See how stupid works?

  • QC Nov 21, 10:32 a.m.

    Another angry fascist State operative. Line em up with the N&O and WRAL operatives and give them a hug and a cookie.

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