UNC Honor Court system to be reviewed in light of player's plagiarized paper
Posted August 2, 2011
Updated August 4, 2011
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Chancellor Holden Thorp has talked to some faculty members about forming a committee to review the student-run Honor Court system, which had its credibility damaged in a recent hearing with former University of North Carolina football player Michael McAdoo and the NCAA.
Many of those who teach at UNC were embarrassed by the initial accusations of cheating by football players who were subsequently suspended from the team. Then, recent media reports uncovered facts that McAdoo had plagiarized parts of a paper and it wasn't caught by the university.
“It became more clear over the course of the last two or three months that the academic mission of the university was not being fully respected in all corners,” said UNC professor of history Jay Smith. “If you discover something by accident, that means there is reason to suspect that, at least, there are other instances out there."
Smith said he thinks a review of the Honor Court system makes sense right now. So does Lloyd Kramer, the chairman of the History Department.
“I think it’s an interesting and important long tradition that goes back to the 19th century here at UNC, but I think that times have changed and it’s probably important to review again how it operates,” Kramer said. “It used to be you’d have a little cheat sheet or something, but now you just get on your phone and these kinds of things are facing technological challenges that the 19th century Honor Court never faced.”
In the week leading up to the firing of former head football coach Butch Davis, Thorp received tremendous support from faculty members. Out of about 90 emails obtained by WRAL News through a public records request, at least 10 came directly from faculty, and all were in support of the chancellor’s decision.
“You took an extremely important stand yesterday, acting in the very best interest of the University,” wrote law professor John Boger following the decision to make a coaching move. “You have my admiration and full support.”
“I just wanted to check to see that you are okay after this whole Butch Davis thing,” wrote Tara Carbonetti, who works at the Morehead Planetarium & Science Center. “Hang in there! You are doing a GREAT job and I stand by you and your decisions 100%!!!!!”
Thorp has come under harsh criticism since making a decision to dismiss Davis – a decision that Thorp said was entirely his. There are forum threads calling for UNC boycotts and Facebook pages calling for Thorp’s resignation. Faculty, however, are firmly standing by Thorp.
“Better late than never,” wrote Lawrence Gilbert, a professor in the Biology Department. “I am relieved and appreciative of this final act.”
McAdoo was denied an injunction last month that would have allowed him to play his senior season while a lawsuit seeking reinstatement of his eligibility and damages proceeds in court. In that hearing, Mcadoo's lawyer, Noah Hoffstetler, argued that his client was being deprived of the opportunity to succeed and that the NCAA violated its own procedures in ruling McAdoo ineligible.
The NCAA was more in line with Thorp’s supporters, saying that academic credibility is more important than playing a sport.
“Mr. McAdoo committed academic fraud. He is a cheater. That is what happened here,” said Raleigh-based lawyer Paul Sun, who represented the NCAA. "The NCAA takes academic fraud very seriously. The university’s facts presented to NCAA show academic fraud. Presumption is (that) there should be ineligibility."