How the academic scandal worked at UNC

How the academic scandal worked at UNC

Published Oct. 22, 2014 5:39 p.m. ET

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) The academic scandal at the University of North Carolina unfolded over nearly two decades and involved about 3,100 students, nearly half of them athletes, according to a report released Wednesday by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein. Here are details about the fake classes that students didn't have to show up for, according to the report.


The now-retired secretary of the African and Afro-American Studies had a soft spot for athletes and started the independent study classes in 1992. Even though she was not a faculty member, Deborah Crowder registered students in the courses, assigned topics and handed out As and Bs after a quick scan of final papers regardless of work quality. By 1999, Crowder began offering lecture classes that didn't meet, apparently to get around limits on the number of independent studies courses students could take.

Knowing the classes were easy As and Bs, counselors who helped athletes pick courses recommended them to struggling students.


When she left the school in 2009, former department chairman Julius Nyang'oro continued the practice until questions were asked in 2011 and he resigned.


More than 3,100 students. About 47 percent of them were athletes. The classes ''were especially popular among student-athletes, particularly those who played the `revenue' sports of football and men's basketball,'' the report said, ''as key to helping academically-challenged student-athletes remain eligible and on the playing field.''


Half were football players, 12 percent were men's basketball players, 6 percent were women's basketball players and the remaining came from other sports.

University Chancellor Carol Folt said no current coach was involved. Though most of the men's basketball players who enrolled in the classes did so since coach Roy Williams arrived in 2003, oversight of their academic progress was left to two of his assistants. Ten of the 15 players on the 2005 team, when the Tar Heels won a national championship, were African and Afro-American Studies majors.


The NCAA is again looking into the scandal. Scholarships could be reduced or wins could be vacated. Athletic director Bubba Cunningham said he wouldn't speculate.

The university chancellor said four employees are going to be fired, and five others disciplined. Folt wouldn't say who they were.


Emery Dalesio can be reached at