Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall was so concerned by the report on the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that he has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to take up the case.
An internal UNC investigation of department courses between summer session 2007 and fall 2011 found unauthorized grades, forged signatures and courses where work was assigned and grades issued with little contact between professor and students.
Today it was announced that Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall will appropriately send the NCSBI a formal invitation to the now epic UNC Athletic/Academic Scandal party.
Woodall granted that it is unlikely that anything criminal was going on, but he asked the SBI to look into the possibility of academic, computer or financial fraud by professor Julius Nyang’oro or administrator Debbie Crowder.
As this latest chapter of the scandal spins out of control, we continue to get more statements from people in positions of authority at UNC. Like Woodall, who stated to WRAL in the story linked above that no criminal activity likely occurred, most of UNC’s administrators seem to have little concern with academic irregularities in the African-American Studies Department.
The first person to make a public statement on the matter was UNC head coach Roy Williams. Robbi Pickeral reported via her ESPN blog back on May 8th that Roy wasn’t concerned primarily because a) only 3% of the students involved in the farce Swahili classes were UNC Basketball players, and b) the athletes in the classes were treated exactly like all the non-athlete students in the class.
This theory has been echoed by UNC Board of Trustee members, UNC System President, UNC lawyers and political figures, and certainly legions of UNC fans who have answered the call to spread this party line.
It is this party line that is exactly why we care and, ultimately, you should, too.
UNC has a long history of holding itself up to be better than everyone else. As an institution, it employs little shame in its effort to further this facade. There are inflated attendance numbers, incidents of reported piped in crowd noise, misinformation of grade results, and now fake classes.
It’s the fake classes that finally seem to have gotten the attentions of the adults in and around Chapel Hill.
It’s the misinformation about those fake classes that should anger you.
UNC, through Roy Williams and other talking heads, has reported that UNC athletes and basketball players in particular were not directed to those fake Swahili classes. In so doing, they’ve pointed out that UNC athletes did nothing that other students had no access or equal opportunity to participate in. While that might be true, it certainly doesn’t right the wrong when you’re talking about athletes who must gain and maintain NCAA eligibility through both GPA and credits.
Here’s a prime example of the misinformation we regular get from UNC to self-servingly report information to the unfortunately gullible UNC supporters.
Back in 2007 UNC’s registrar’s office released this document showing how UNC employs literally no priority registration for athletes. If you’ll look at this document, you’ll see that in 2007 UNC boastfully reported that every single ACC school provided priority registration for athletes except UNC.
In this article from Carolinablue.com from 2009 you can see where indeed UNC athletes do get priority registration opportunities.
Another example of exemplary process is priority registration. Many of our peer institutions have an opaque system of priority registration in which student-athletes are allowed to register for courses before all other students. At Carolina, the policy that defines student groups who are eligible for priority registration was created by a task force representing a wide array of stakeholders. The Educational Policy Committee reviewed the policy, and the Faculty Council approved it by vote.
Student-athletes are one of many student groups at Carolina who may request permission to register before their classmates, but applications are scrutinized in a public meeting by a Priority Registration Advisory Committee composed of faculty, staff and students before priority registration opportunities are granted.
There it is again! As long as they let other students do the same thing as athletes, they literally think it is appropriate to say there is no priority given to athletes. It is unbelievable that adults could employ such self-serving logic and report the same.
The Daily Tar Heel seems to offer the same ridiculous explanation to the UNC students concerned about athletes getting preferential treatment in their class selection. In this article the topic is addressed at length by the person in charge of their “selection process” that includes only about 8% of the student body yet somehow is deemed to not provide preferential treatment to athletes.
The recently completed NCAA investigation into UNC’s football program put student athletes in the spotlight.
History professor Jay Smith, who helped author a statement with other faculty urging UNC to review the role of athletics on campus, said in an email that he has mixed feelings about priority registration for student athletes.
“I hate the signal this policy sends — that we, at Carolina, will bend academic procedures to accommodate certain favored groups of students,” Smith said.
“But I’m also sympathetic to students, such as our overworked athletes, whose course options are strictly limited by extracurricular activities beyond their control.”
The education policy committee plans to meet to review the policy and decide if changes should be made.
Chairwoman of the committee Andrea Biddle said the committee will examine whether there are students who need priority but aren’t receiving it.
“There are perceptions that it’s all athletes, but there are other groups of people who need priority registration,” she said.
So as long as it’s not JUST athletes, then that makes it okay. Not only does it make it okay, but it makes it okay to mislead the public about it by making statements that UNC athletes do not get priority registration.
So if UNC athletes, especially basketball players, do not get the benefit of priority registration, how can 27 of them in a three year span take the same farce Swahili class?
How can statements like this about Will Graves even be possible:
According to multiple sources close to the UNC program, Graves’ suspension was delivered shortly after he had failed a drug test, testing positive for marijuana.
In addition, his academic track record was often less than sparkling as well. As one former teammate noted: “I think he failed Swahili. Everyone on the team takes that class and I’m pretty sure Will was the first one to fail.”
But Williams decided to keep Graves around after the 2009 suspension, letting him practice with the team and encouraging him to work back into the good graces of the coaching staff.
The Hall of Fame coach was sending a message to Graves that his behavior off-the-court was unacceptable – in the classroom, in his social life. He wasn’t respecting what it truly meant to be a part of the Tar Heel program.
But a teacher at heart not to mention a leader with a big heart, Williams couldn’t bring himself to throw Graves off the team. He knew the kid from Greensboro had grown up as a diehard Tar Heel fan and loved the experience of living out his dream of playing while wearing Carolina blue.
When Williams reinstated Graves before last season, he had many hopes for how the junior wing would move forward and learn from his mistakes.
How is it that all of these guys share one suspiciously interesting thing in common:
All of these guys majored in African American studies per the UNC Basketball Media Guides provided online, but perhaps even more interesting is that all of them played basketball for UNC prior to the years analyzed in the internal AAS/Swahili investigation.
At least one entire UNC starting rotation apparently took the same Swhaili class together. That’s quite interesting considering they got no direction to take the course from UNC administrators nor did they receive any preference in registering for a class that literally no one but Will Graves has ever failed. This from a very impressive UNC alum, marine and author, Rye Barcott, founder of Carolina for Kiberia.
“When you just take a short glimpse at a place like Kibera, it’s very difficult for it not to be overwhelming,” said Rye Barcott, founder of Carolina for Kibera.
It is a place where poverty never sleeps; a place where politics often conflicts with peace.
“The sights, the sounds, the commotion, the sewage,” Barcott said. “It confronts you. It assaults you.”
It’s a place where Charlotte’s Rye Barcott would find passion and purpose.
“Well, this was back in 2000, so the world was a very different place,” Barcott said.
Barcott was nearing graduation at UNC Chapel Hill and committed to joining the Marines. But as he’d soon discover, something would happen on the way to war.
“I was fortunate enough to take Swahili classes with the starting lineup of the men’s basketball team at UNC. That was quite an experience,” he said.
Rest assured there is much more to learn from a legitimate probe into this rapidly evolving situation, and hopefully an allegedly disinterested third party can start to truly provide the transparent view of athlete registration that UNC bragged about in 2007.
So how does this investigation compare to the one at State in 1989? LRM wrote the following in 2010 (Spirit, Not the Letter of the Law):
While the NCAA investigated NC State in 1989, the Poole Commission was formed and the Attorney General got the SBI involved to investigate potential financial infractions. Only minor infractions were found, namely the sale of shoes and game tickets by State basketball players, of which the coaching staff was found to have no knowledge. Yet, Jimmy V was vilified as evil incarnate for harboring an environment lacking oversight and control while the local media, the UNC Board of Governors, C.D. Spangler — and, unfortunately, many within the NC State community — spewed vitriol freely upon his name for it.
For the record, there were no implications of players cheating or improper assistance by any tutors at Jim Valvano’s NC State. There was no institutionalized cheating or academic fraud within the University. There was no grade-fixing. Players who did not deserve to matriculate or graduate were, in fact, not graduating and therefore not destroying the value of the diploma that so many hang so proudly. Nor were there accusations that agents were paying for players’ trips to Miami or California or funneling money through coaches to players.