Chapel Hill, N.C. — An accrediting agency said Thursday that it will not sanction the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for academic irregularities in one department linked to student-athletes.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges could have handed UNC-Chapel Hill a warning or put it on probation, but its board opted to monitor the school, saying university leaders are working towards making things right.
Various reviews determined there were about 200 courses in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies involving no-show classes, altered grades, plagiarism and other improprieties dating back to the late 1990s.
The university has determined there are 46 current students who received a passing grade from those courses. They are being given three options: hand in past course work for review, take a challenge exam, or take another course. Former students will also be given an opportunity to take a make-up course.
UNC insists that no degrees were awarded students who didn't earn them.
While athletes accounted for a large number of students taking those classes, a review conducted by former Gov. Jim Martin determined that it was an academic problem, not an athletic scandal.
UNC-Chapel Hill must submit a monitoring report to the accreditation board by next June to demonstrate that its plan to prevent future problems is working.
Chancellor Holden Thorp said in an email to students and faculty that the university has cooperated with SACSCOC throughout its review, and he is pleased with the agency's decision not to impose any penalties.
"We are confident the sweeping changes we have made, based on the results of seven internal and independent, outside reviews or investigations, will prevent any recurrence of these irregularities,” Thorp said.
The State Bureau of Investigation continues to look into the case to determine whether any criminal charges are warranted.