NCAA reopening investigation into UNC academic fraud
Posted June 30, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The NCAA has notified UNC-Chapel Hill that it is reopening its 2011 investigation into academic irregularities at the school, athletics director Bubba Cunningham said Monday.
"The NCAA has determined that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might now be willing to speak with the enforcement staff," Cunningham said in a statement.
"The enforcement staff is exploring this new information to ensure an exhaustive investigation is conducted based on all available information," a statement by the NCAA said. The NCAA also said that, as with any case, the enforcement staff makes it clear that it will revisit previous infractions if additional information becomes available.
Dr. Julius Nyang'oro, who faces a fraud charge for collecting payment for a class that never met at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is cooperating with an investigation there, Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said last week. That cooperation has Woodall considering dropping the charge against Nyang'oro, the former head of the UNC Department of African and Afro-American Studies.
Woodall said Nyang’oro has provided "invaluable information" to Ken Wainstein, the former federal prosecutor hired by the university in February to conduct the latest in a series of probes into the relationship between the Af-Am department and student-athletes. Cunningham said the university instructed Wainstein to share relevant information directly and confidentially with the NCAA.
Earlier this month, former UNC basketball player Rashad McCants, a member of the 2005 National Championship team, told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that he took classes that required nothing more than a paper and that tutors wrote papers for student-athletes. McCants said he rarely went to class yet remained eligible to play.
Head basketball coach Roy Williams denied McCants' claims that Williams knew about the classes, and McCants' 16 teammates signed a statement that said, "With conviction, each one of us is proud to say that we attended class and did our own academic work."
The "paper class" system came to light in January when former UNC academic adviser Mary Willingham claimed the university put player eligibility above academic integrity.
Willingham claimed that, for more than two decades, these no-show classes were prevalent in the African and Afro-American Studies Department.
A 2012 investigation led by former Gov. Jim Martin found problems in that department dating to the mid-1990s. The investigation revealed hundreds of bogus classes and altered and forged grades, but Martin determined that the discrepancies benefited non-athletes who took the classes as well as student-athletes.
Investigations into academic misconduct at North Carolina began in 2009 after allegations of improper benefits within the football program. The NCAA sanctioned the football program for both improper benefits and academic misconduct involving a tutor, leading to a postseason ban and the loss of 16 scholarships.