Getting to crux of UNC case may be impossible
Posted May 12, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The next trial date for former University of North Carolina professor Julius Nyang’oro is June 24 in the Orange County Superior Court at Hillsborough.
Don’t bank on learning a great deal more about the Carolina African-American studies saga/scandal that day. Like the now infamous former educator’s last scheduled court appearance on April 29, another postponement is entirely possible.
In fact, the case against Nyang’oro for obtaining pay by false pretense for conducting no-show classes (largely for Tar Heel football players) may never go to trial. Like a lot of low-level felony cases, delays could be commonplace. Moreover, it’s just as likely that a plea bargain might be struck between Orange district attorney Jim Woodall and Nyang’oro’s lawyers.
At end-game, the school may wind up spending a fortune on new lead investigator Kenneth Wainstein ($990 hourly) and his three aides ($440-$775) without clearing the air.
Wainstein, a former U.S. Justice Department official, was hired by UNC System president Tom Ross and Carolina chancellor Carol Folt in February. This is the third high-level probe in three years but by far, the most expensive.
Wainstein’s team is in the process of seeking evidence.
But nothing truly meaningful can surface until someone can or is forced to answer the simple question of WHY the fraudulent classes were created in the first place.
If Nyang’oro instigated the activity, what was his motivation? More correctly, what was his incentive?
Did he simply dream up the idea out the clear blue? Was he just that much of a rabid athletic fan? Did he feel sorry for athletes? Was he conducting some sort of strange experiment in out-of-the-box curriculums?
Obviously none of those answers seem plausible.
But if Nyang’oro was responsible, he’s the only one who can say for sure what happened on Day-1 and how it expanded from there.
And short of signing a lucrative “tell-all” media/book contract of some sort, there’s no reason whatsoever to assume he would ever make such disclosures. Even if he’s eventually found guilty on the charges, even Woodall has said no jail time would likely be involved in a punishment.
Wainstein’s investigative skills may be as staggering as his billing rate, but no one can turn chicken feathers into chicken salad. Unless Nyang’oro and/or someone else involved in the origination of the endeavor chooses to cooperate by providing testimony and real evidence, the definitive answers won’t be found.
As the charges now stand, no one is going to have the power to force Nyang’oro to testify against himself or anyone else.
Folt, in a Feb. 21 news release by UNC sad, “We have directed Mr. Wainstein to ask the tough questions, follow the facts wherever they lead, and get the job done. I have quickly grown to admire the extent to which the Carolina community has encouraged me to look within the University, to identify challenges, and to take strong actions to address them. I believe these efforts will accelerate the University’s capacity to achieve the meaningful academic and athletic reform that our entire community expects.”
Wainstein, in the same release, said, “I look forward to working closely with the University community to develop a full understanding of the facts and to provide an independent and comprehensive assessment of those facts for the University and the public.”
Don’t bank on it.