UNC-CH football academic counselor fired in wake of Wainstein report
Posted November 25, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football academic counselor Jamie Lee is one of four people terminated as a result of an independent investigation into academic fraud, the university said Tuesday as part of a public records request.
Ten media organizations, including Capitol Broadcasting Co., the parent company of WRAL News, filed suit Monday to obtain the names of UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and staff who were fired or disciplined in the wake of an outside investigation into academic fraud at the school.
The names of eight other people who were either terminated or disciplined have not been released by the school.
Former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein released a 131-page report on Oct. 22 that showed academic advisers, including Lee, steered student-athletes for 18 years toward courses in UNC-Chapel Hill's African and Afro-American Studies department that never met and required only a short paper to pass.
The Wainstein investigation revealed Lee, as well as football counselors Cynthia Reynolds and Beth Bridger were aware of the classes, and in some cases, told the department’s manager, Deborah Crowder, that the grades that would be required to keep players eligible.
According to the report, a meeting was held in November 2009 between UNC football coaches and the counseling staff to discuss Crowder's retirement. In that meeting, Bridger and Lee explained to the football staff – including former head coach Butch Davis – that "the AFAM paper classes had played a large role in keeping under-prepared and/or unmotivated football players eligible to play," and the classes no longer existed. The notes from the meeting were later forwarded to Senior Associate Director of Athletics John Blanchard and Academic Support Program for Student Athletes Director Robert Mercer.
Between 1999 and 2011, the report noted "there were 963 enrollments of football players in AFAM paper classes." Davis was fired less than a month before the start of the 2011 season.
Lee was initially hired as a temporary full-time employee on Aug. 28, 2006, she became a full-time academic counselor on Aug. 6, 2007. In May 2013 Lee transferred departments and began working in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes.
Chancellor Carol Folt called the no-show classes "an inexcusable betrayal" but she and other university officials have previously refused to disclose the names of those who have been fired or disciplined, arguing that any actions taken aren't final until grievance hearings have been held and all appeals have been exhausted.
By contrast, UNC-Wilmington announced the day after Wainstein released his report that former UNC-Chapel Hill academic adviser Bridger, who joined the the University of North Carolina at Wilmington staff earlier this year, had been fired because of her role in the sham classes.
Wainstein's report names at least 16 faculty and staff members as being directly or indirectly involved in the scheme, according to the lawsuit, and UNC-Chapel Hill officials have provided, when asked by media organizations, information about those people that "appears to be historical in nature" but doesn't reflect their status after Oct. 24.