Local News

No decision Monday on UNC academic scandal

Posted May 14, 2012 12:08 p.m. EDT
Updated February 25, 2013 4:28 p.m. EST

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Monday that a meeting with investigators from the State Bureau of Investigation ended without a decision on whether to file criminal charges against former University of North Carolina employees named as the culprits in a long-running academic scandal at the Chapel Hill campus.

Woodall has said he'd have that decision by the end of the month, but Monday's meeting was inconclusive. An follow-up meeting is scheduled in about two weeks. 

Multiple investigations, both internal and external, have identified Professor Julius Nyang’oro, who served as chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, and his administrator Debbie Crowder, as the source of a pattern of abuses including unauthorized grades, forged signatures and courses where work was assigned and grades issued with little contact between professor and student.

In asking the SBI to look into the case, Woodall granted that it is unlikely that anything criminal was going on, but said the pair could have committed academic, computer or financial fraud.

UNC System President Tom Ross said campus leaders consulted with Woodall as the scandal emerged only to be told that forged records did not constitute a criminal offense.

The Af-Am Department has been under scrutiny since published reports showed apparent plagiarism and other discrepancies on a course paper written by former Tar Heels football player Michael McAdoo.

McAdoo was one of seven players forced to sit out the 2010 football season while the NCAA investigated the Tar Heel football program. The NCAA ruled McAdoo ineligible for receiving improper assistance from tutor Jennifer Wiley on multiple assignments across several academic terms. When McAdoo filed a suit against both UNC and the NCAA seeking reinstatement, his course work came to light.

UNC has repeatedly asserted that any wrong-doing was limited to the Af-Am Department, and that Nyang’oro and Crowder are the only two individuals who are directly linked to the irregular courses and grades. 

Both have since resigned from UNC and remained silent.

Woodall said the SBI has free rein to look into any possible crimes, including conspiracy to conceal criminal activity.