UNC chancellor urges patience with academic review
Posted June 10, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Carol Folt, chancellor of the University of North Carolina, sent an email to students, faculty and staff Tuesday urging patience in the face of the latest independent review of academic practices after years of allegations that Tar Heel student-athletes get special treatment.
"I want to assure you that we are doing our best to resolve remaining questions," she wrote. "I also want to take this opportunity to reconfirm that we are going to respond to these questions at the right time, and to provide some perspective as to how Carolina is moving forward."
The latest twist in the drama came Friday when former men's basketball player Rashad McCants, a member of the 2005 national championship team, told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that he rarely went to class, that tutors wrote papers for him and other athletes and that coaches knew about the arrangement.
Sixteen of McCants' teammates responded with a signed statement disputing McCants' claims.
"With conviction, each one of us is proud to say that we attended class and did our own academic work," they wrote.
Eleven of them were present Saturday when head men's basketball coach Roy Williams responded to McCants in his own ESPN interview.
"I strongly disagree with what Rashad (McCants) has said," Williams said.
Folt acknowledged Tuesday that those interviews have turned the national spotlight back on UNC, and she reiterated the actions the university is taking to figure out exactly what happened in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies under the leadership of Dr. Julius Nyang’oro.
The former department head faces head up to 30 months in prison if he is convicted of obtaining property by false pretense, which is a felony. Investigators said he accepted $12,000 for teaching a class that never happened.
Nyang'oro resigned as allegations focused on no-show classes, altered grades and other improprieties came to light during an internal investigation led by former Gov. Jim Martin. That probe found irregularities were contained to Nyang'oro's department and pointed the finger at him and staffer Deborah Crowder. Martin found no anomalies outside of that department and no specific link between the scandal and student athletes.
Those findings, however, did little to quiet the questions about Tar Heel athletes and their academic preparation, and Folt, hired in April 2014, retained former U.S. Justice Department attorney Kenneth Wainstein to review information uncovered during the State Bureau of Investigation probe of the department, which led to Nyang'oro's indictment.
"Once we know the extent of Mr. Wainstein’s findings, which he will release to the public, we will take appropriate action, building on the significant reforms we have already implemented. At that time we will also be better equipped to respond to individual claims. Until then, we appreciate your patience and understanding," Folt wrote on Tuesday.
Bubba Cunningham, UNC's athletic director and Williams' boss, chimed in on Tuesday with his own statement.
"Current and former players from across the country have told me that Coach Williams and his staff have always placed a priority on self-accountability inside the classroom," he wrote. "Everyone here at Carolina wants to know all we can about past academic and athletic anomalies. But speculation and innuendo should not replace the independent investigation currently being conducted."