An earlier probe into a University of North Carolina scandal that involved athletics is reaches much farther than first anticipated. This scandal consisted of athletes who took bogus classes and were given inflated grades. Reportedly, about 1,500 athletes from the university received “A” and “B” grades over the past 20 years, this according to an investigative report issued yesterday.
In the report by former high-ranking US Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein, in what was considered a “shadow curriculum” within the former African and Afro-American Studies or AFAM department from 1993 to 2001, about 3,100 students enrolled in classes they did not have to show up for.
The majority of athletes involved in the grade scandal played for the university’s football team or were members of the coveted basketball program, which out of five national titles during the scandal period that included the years 1993, 2005, and 2009, had three wins.
Many faculty members at the University of North Carolina hoped the eight-month investigation would bring closure to this 20-year old scandal but instead, it proved the fraud was far worse than reported in prior investigations conducted by the university and the NCAA.
Based on the findings, a minimum of nine university employees were fired or brought under disciplinary review. Now, school officials are trying to determine the next step. At this time, different penalty options include a reduced number of scholarships to removed wins.
According to Bubba Cunningham, Athletic Director, there is no speculation on potential sanctions. He confirmed that the University of North Carolina would work closely with the NCAA in going through the report as part of the ongoing investigation, a process that will take time.
This scandal dates back to the final years of Dean Smith’s tenure, the school’s legendary men’s basketball coach, but also football coach Mack Brown’s time prior to him going to Texas.
The report suggested that the courses in question required just a research paper, which often was quickly scanned by a secretary of the university who regardless of quality of work, handed out high grades.
Also outlined in the report was the way in which counselors for the athletes guided students struggling in school to those very courses, which were easy and had no instructor. In fact, two counselors actually gave suggestions as to the grades that should be given.
Wainstein’s report did not find evidence of any other department experiencing similar problems. Various current coaches to include Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Roy Williams stated they knew about independent study courses with easy grades but had no idea the classes were bogus, something Wainstein believes.
In a joint statement released by the University of North Carolina and the NCAA, Wainstein’s report will be reviewed using the same standards applicable in all NCAA infraction cases. Regarding possible rules violations, neither organization commented.
Carol Folt, Chancellor of the University of North Carolina said the terminated employees, as well as those facing disciplinary review would not be identified. She said that this problem is not only academic or athletic, but one that also falls on the school.