UNC-CH football academic counselor fired in wake of Wainstein report

Posted November 25, 2014

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— 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.


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  • Objective Scientist Nov 26, 2014

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    Not speaking for him/her, but I believe you misunderstood the retired professor. He is correct that the Provost (THE chief "academic officer" of a university) and Deans have THE responsibility for the "academics" of the univeristy... while NO coach has such responsibility. Although it is my opinion that as employees of an institution of higher education the coaches should be expected to not create conflicts with the academic mission! That said... I believe the good retired prof is saying that the "responsible leadership" at UNC have not suffered any consequences of the scandal... even though they "permitted" it to continue for two decades! I believe he/she believes the academic leadership SHOULD have been affected via some punitive consequences!

  • MaxD Nov 26, 2014

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    >scandal they have permitted for many years
    >responsible leadership

    would you like to try again?

  • THD Nov 26, 2014

    A counselor


  • tran Nov 26, 2014

    The more UNC circles the wagons, the more drawn out this process becomes. They should come clean then take their lumps.

  • dave437 Nov 26, 2014

    UNCW having more integrity than Chapel Hill....

  • Eugene Irene Nov 26, 2014
    user avatar

    As a former UNC Prof I know that the people who have the responsibility for the quality of the courses and curricula at UNC are the Provost and Deans and not the coaches and/or assistants. To my knowledge the responsible leadership at UNC has been unaffected by the scandal that they have permitted for many years.

  • Sally Bethune Nov 26, 2014
    user avatar

    How ironic. UNC and Harvard are being sued because of their student selection process. The world is a crazy place indeed.

  • Mariann Byknish Nov 26, 2014
    user avatar

    I never cared for UNC athletics . As with other schools it is all about the game and academia to the wayside. Sad to see this.

  • glarg Nov 26, 2014

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    Name and shame.

    These people stole money from the taxpayers, corrupted the academic system and deprived worthy hardworking applicants of those slots at college.

  • moomoo Nov 26, 2014

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    Not trying to be "cool"--simply reporting the news--deal with it.