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Joe Ovies

North Carolina's NCAA gift that keeps on giving

Posted May 8, 2012
Updated May 9, 2012

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A 10-page report issued on Friday by The University of North Carolina revealed unauthorized grades, forged signatures and other irregularities. The nine-month internal investigation centers on Julius Nyang’oro, who had held the position of department chair in the African and Afro-American Studies program. According to the report, Nyang'oro oversaw independent study classes with minimal professor-student interaction and grades for 59 students in nine courses between 2007-09 were submitted with forged signatures of professors. Those same professors said they never taught the courses and during the period faculty members revealed unauthorized grade changes.

It's a gift from the NCAA investigation that keeps on giving. The university started the internal probe following a News & Observer report concerning the academic transcript Marvin Austin. According to the News & Observer,  football and basketball players accounted for 39 percent of the enrollments in 54 classes. 

While a sports-related scandal exposed possible fraud within the African and Afro-American Studies department, the issue goes well beyond athletics. It eats at the core of what a university is all about. North Carolina prides itself in national academic recognition. That's why public comments from Chancellor Holden Thorp and UNC system president Tom Ross are rather curious. They appear more interested in damage control. 

In July 2011, when Michael McAdoo's plagiarized paper had gone viral, Thorp wanted the focus to be on the honor court's handling of the situation, rather than asking out loud why nobody bothered to read the paper in the first place. In an interview with the N&O, Thorp said he was not going to dig into Nyang'oro's handling of the paper. "It's very unfortunate what happened here, but I don't get into grading for faculty members," he said.

In a statement on Monday, Ross wasn't interested in digging deeper either. “I believe that this was an isolated situation and that the campus has taken appropriate steps to correct problems and put additional safeguards in place,” he said. 

Ross believes the case of Nyang'oro is isolated, but how does he know that? Wouldn't it behoove the president of the entire university system to make sure everything at a flagship institution is kosher? At the very least that seems like a reasonable request.

Again, the academic scandal at North Carolina goes beyond sports. While the 39 percent statistic generates a good headline, it also means the majority of those benefiting from Nyang'oro's alleged Indiana Jones-style adventures were from the general population. That's a bigger problem, and ironic, considering the real black eye for the university comes from the same domain that spent the last year wringing their hands and openly debating the merits of big-time college athletics.

But it's easier to fire a football coach, send out a few disassociation letters and hope the next coach wins without any scandal. Handling a tenured professor that has a history dating all the way back to the early 90s is a slightly more complicated matter and a rabbit hole nobody appears interested in exploring.

That's not to say North Carolina is unique. It's just something to think about next time big, bad college sports is shouldered with all the blame.

181 Comments

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  • jbboone May 14, 2012

    Another installment in the UNC mess....

    http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/11099856/

  • NCSU84 May 10, 2012

    View quoted thread



    I took bowling at State. It was part of my "PE requirement." They were 1hr credit that were 1/2 semester long. The other part of the semester was taking another PE type class.

  • Shelley Cooper May 10, 2012

    99.9 The Ad

    Ovies Talk Radio

    Why bother to even spit out the phone number when nobody can call in?

  • pskunk119 May 10, 2012

    Don't confuse The Godfather with facts & numbers. She might get up on that building again & threaten to jump. Which that would be fine if she would actually do it. But she would probably be faking again. And they would have to close some more streets & people would have difficulty getting home from work. At least there wouldn't be much mess due to lack of gray matter.

  • ACCInsider May 9, 2012

    View quoted thread



    You're off on this one.

    NCSU's volleyball and bowling are only 1 credit hour classes. Most students may take 1 class per semester. So, PE classes have minimal impact to your GPA even if you make an A or 4.0. The 3.5 and 3.8 as you note has even less of an impact.

    Whereas, UNC's AA classes are 3 credit hours which is equal to most math, english and other courses. You make an A in this class thats 12 total hours added to the GPA. Obviously, a much greater impact to the GPA.

    So, it's good to see NCSU student's list the 1 credit hour classes as the easiest as they should be. When the heavier weighted (3 credit hour) classes are known as being the easiest then there should be a concern.

  • Flagship_You May 9, 2012

    ...but at the same time, pretty dadgum entertaining. LOL!

  • Flagship_You May 9, 2012

    +1,982.

    The sentiment (anger and obsession over an institution) appears to be shared mostly by those who never attended college at all.

    It's weird.

  • The Godfather May 9, 2012

    View quoted thread

    Uh, usually most AGs are lawyers, and NCUS does not have a law school. You sound as if you don't trust Carolina folks. Well, at some point, upbringing and the pursuit of right and wrong is what gives people their character, not a university. If you think the Universities are imparting some magical culture, I got news for you, it's there before the kids even get into high school. An ahole is an ahole wether they be Pack or Ram, and they were that way before they got to college, and most likely will be that way afterward. I'm surprised someone of your professed educational level would really think that WHERE someone went to school would make a diff in their honesty, integrity, and fairness. Personally I give parents the credit for those qualities, or the lack of them. Me thinks you define too many people by where they went to school for 4 or so years.

  • The Godfather May 9, 2012

    View quoted thread

    See my post on Wolfpack Volleyball and Bowling classes and my link to NCSUs "easiest" classes as ranked by the NCSU students. Those electives can be awfully helpful to that GPA, expecially when the average grade is say a 3.8 in Volleyball 1.

  • StunGunn May 9, 2012

    View quoted thread



    I don't know about that, Toddler; all I know is Carolina is potentially in a lot of trouble. If the basketball team is involved, I believe it will come out. This issue is too much in the spotlight for anyone to hide.

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