TV specials replay UNC-CH academic fraud problems
Posted March 26
Chapel Hill, N.C. — ESPN and HBO aired dueling specials Tuesday night focusing on the academic fraud scandal involving University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student-athletes.
The specials featured former UNC football players Bryon Bishop, Michael McAdoo and Deunta Williams and adviser and academic whistle-blower Mary Willingham and drew national attention to the headlines that have played across North Carolina media for years: Courses in which no classes were held, students turning in one-paragraph essays and advisers guiding students to majors that ensured their continued athletic eligibility.
A 2012 investigation led by former Gov. Jim Martin found those problems in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies dating to 1997 and placed blame on former department chairman Julius Nyang'oro and a retired administrator. Nyang'oro was indicted in December on a fraud charge for collecting payments for classes that never met.
UNC officials noted in a statement released after the specials aired that little new information was revealed and noted that the university has used the episode as a chance to improve.
"We have instituted numerous reforms, including new governance and accountability standards in our Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes," Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs Joel Curran said in the statement.
UNC President Tom Ross and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt recently hired a former U.S. Justice Department attorney to comb through the case file the State Bureau of Investigation compiled during a probe that led to Nyang'oro's indictment to determine if other changes are needed.
University trustees declined to comment Wednesday on the ESPN and HBO specials. The Board of Trustees meets Thursday, and they will hear from Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham.