The link to this story from the Charlotte Observer written by the N&O’s Dan Kane showed up late Saturday night on Twitter. You’ll never believe this, but there are some questions about Marvin Austin’s UNC transcript.
Let’s start off with this bit of information:
In a summer 2007 session just before his first full semester on campus, Austin took a 400 level class in African-American studies and received a B plus.
So right out of high school Marvin Austin got a B plus in a 400 level course at UNC. I bet you’re shocked that it was an African-American studies course, but more on that in a minute. UNC spokesman Mike McFarland had this to say about 400 level courses at UNC:
a 400 level course is not necessarily harder than a 200 level course. But its designation as a 400 level course means that it is open to undergraduate and graduate students, suggesting it had a level of sophistication that would pose a challenge to a newly arrived freshman.
Julia Nichols, the student services manager for UNC’s Academic Advising Program also had this to say on the subject of 400 level courses:
it is unusual for any freshman to begin his or her college education with a 400 level course. The exceptions, she said, are freshmen who have demonstrated an aptitude, either through advanced placement classes or other experience and petition the professor to be allowed to take the course.
“As a general, blanketed rule, freshmen are not normally allowed to take 400 or 500 level classes,” she said.
So Marvin Austin must be one of the sharper knives in the drawer to not only handle a 400 level course right out of high school but also get a B, right?
Austin got into the class despite having a score on the written portion of the SAT that was low enough that he needed to take a remedial writing class, which he took in the subsequent fall semester.
OK, so he’s not a good writer. What about his other courses?
The partial transcript shows that Austin was carrying a 2.21 grade point average after more than three semesters and three summer classes. A 2.0 GPA, or a C average, is required to remain in good academic standing, according to the North Carolina student handbook.
Austin received grades of C minus or lower in seven of 17 classes and labs, the transcript shows. He failed an introductory geology lab, received D’s for two Portuguese classes and a D plus for a 100 level history class. A D is a passing grade at UNC, and allows students to move up to a higher level class.
I know this is a highly unbelievable coincidence but Julius Nyang’oro, the professor that couldn’t detect the plagiarism in Michael McAdoo’s Swahili paper that Pack Pride found in 5 minutes on Google, is the professor that gave Austin permission to take the 400 level course as well as taught the class. What are the odds?
What about the grade distribution in that course?
a large majority of students taking the bioethics class in the past five years scored an A minus or better. The report showed no students received less than a B minus. Nyang’oro is one of two professors the website lists as teaching the course during that period.
And this brings it all together:
A prominent critic of bigtime college sports said Austin’s transcript suggests he was assigned to a class that was intended to provide him a good grade to maintain his eligibility on the football field.
“You don’t start at the senior level seminar and then work your way down to remedial writing,” said Jon Ericson, a retired Drake University provost who started an organization called The Drake Group that advocates for reforming college sports.
Those are just the choice quotes, you really should go and read the entire article.