The scope of the UNC academic scandal continues to widen as national outlets are finally catching onto the story. Many of these stories are linked in this entry from yesterday. If you missed it, please take a moment to catch up on the recent developments concerning the UNC faculty’s request for an independent investigation given its collective (and reasonable, we might add) concern that the school has not been completely forthcoming or even diligent in its own investigation and reporting of the scope of potential academic misconduct.
As is the case with many North Carolinians, many of us Wolfpackers and SFN contributors are married to UNC alumnae. (Perhaps it’s just part of their narcissism that makes them forget we steal their women.) Just yesterday, the latest edition of the UNC alumni association magazine, The Carolina Review, was sent to some of our homes. (Thanks!)
In it is a surprisingly somewhat fair assessment of the most recent developments in Chapel Hill surrounding UNC’s African and Afro-American Studies curriculum (AAS) and that department’s connection to academic fraud involving UNC athletes. The piece mostly recaps the press releases. It by no means blazes any trails. That’s certainly understandable since this is, well, the official UNC alumni association publication.
There is, however, a most interesting tidbit of information provided therein that SFN has yet to see elsewhere despite what has become an onslaught of media coverage in recent days and weeks. The latest hit coming from NBC.
Specifically, the Carolina Alumni Review points out that Dr. Nyang’oro, the professor (and department head) at the center of the AAS athletic scandal, was employed by the University as a faculty member in 1988. Nyang’oro became the chair of the curriculum at issue in 1992. The Carolina Alumni Review also points out that Nyang’oro was the *first* and *only* department head.
As a matter of deduction, that means that African American Studies as a curriculum was created in 1992 when Nyang’oro was designated the first and only chair.
In 1992-1993, the University of North Carolina basketball team won the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship in New Orleans finishing the year with an impressive 34-4 record.
UNC’s roster for the 1992-1993 team can be viewed here. However, below is a clip from that link for your convenience:
Scott Cherry Sr 6-4 G
George Lynch Sr 6-7 F *
Henrik Rodl Sr 6-7 F/G
Travis Stephenson Sr 6-6 F
Matt Wenstrom Sr 7-1 C
Eric Montross Jr 7-0 C *
Derrick Phelps Jr 6-4 G *
Brian Reese Jr 6-6 F *
Kevin Salvadori Jr 7-0 F
Pat Sullivan Jr 6-8 F
Pearce Landry So 6-5 G
Donald Williams So 6-3 G *
Dante Calabria Fr 6-4 G
Larry Davis Fr 6-1 G
Ed Geth Fr 6-9 F
As you will see, the starting line up for the 1993 National Champion Tar Heels consisted of George Lynch, Brian Reese, Donald Williams, Derrick Phelps, and Eric Montross.
Before we move forward, a disclaimer: In the not-so-distant past, SFN was able to peruse old UNC Basketball Media Guides. For some reason we are having trouble relocating those online. But at that point, we were able to determine from UNC’s own publications the curriculum/majors of many of the former UNC basketball players.
The curriculum majors/minors for that group based on our best collected information and belief are as follows:
Lynch (Sr): African American Studies
Reese (Jr): Communications (minor in African American Studies)
D. Williams (So): African American Studies
Phelps (Jr): African American Studies
Montross (Jr): Communications
It seems worth pointing out that in the first year a curriculum for African American Studies existed at UNC (1992) 4 of 5 members of the starting lineup of the National Championship Basketball team immediately majored/minored in the brand new curriculum with Dr. Nyang’oro at the helm. In just one year, an almost entire team happened to migrate to one particular, and brand new, curriculum?
Perhaps even more amazing is that some of these players were juniors and seniors when the curriculum was created!
There are so many side stories to this “coincidence.”
1) Roy Williams was in Kansas for the 1992/1993 season and for a decade thereafter.
2) Donald Williams was an NC State commitment only to finally sign with Dean Smith and the Tar Heels.
3) Not long thereafter Jerry Stackhouse, a lifelong Wolfpack fan, also signed with UNC.
4) Stackhouse, brace yourself, also purportedly majored in African American Studies.
So many questions remain in light of The Big Lead and other national outlets starting to put pressure on the basketball program’s connection to AAS. If you haven’t read the story by the Big Lead linked above, you should immediately. It raises some great points and great questions, but does it even encompass the entire picture given the information above?
Just starting from 2003-04 the Big Lead provides this tidbit and data:
So in 2009, a year before the scandal went public, the academic adviser to the basketball team – a team which had a history of players who majored in African and Afro-American Studies – left UNC, as did a longtime administrator in that department. Since the departures of Walden and Crowder, records obtained by the News & Observer (click here for the UNC academic info PDF) show a dramatic drop in athletes majoring in African and Afro-American Studies. We specifically looked at the basketball team’s numbers in that major from when Roy Williams took over in 2003-2004, and here are the numbers we found (African & Afro-American majors/players who had chosen a major):
2003-04 AA 5/13
2004-05 AA 7/13 < —- Won NCAA title.
2005-06 AA 3/11
2006-07 AA 3/15
2007-08 AA 2/12
2008-09 AA 1/16 2009-10 AA 0/10
2010-11 AA 0/8
2011-12 AA 0/9
There is little doubt to the objective observer that many questions remain unanswered. The scope of the investigation perhaps cannot be broad enough to truly get to the bottom of the questions that linger surrounding the UNC athletic department.
To leave you with just a few to chew on:
- Was AAS created at UNC specifically for basketball players?
- Was UNC tipped off that people were starting to make that connection?
- How many recruits did UNC lure away from other schools with promises of easy degrees in the newly created AAS curriculum after its creation under Nyang’oro in 1992?
- Is it fair to just point a finger at Roy Williams or does academic fraud in the athletic department and University as a whole long predate his arrival?
- Did Butch Davis take the fall for a system that existed long before he, too, arrived in Chapel Hill?
- If it worked so long for basketball, why not football? (There’s a cliche about a secret and three people… it’s anecdotal, but it’s likely applicable to a secret and 5 people versus a secret and 75 people.)
- Can the true breadth of the competitive advantage be even comprehended when a coach enters a recruit’s home and speaks of ridiculously over-inflated graduation rates to a superstar’s parents eagerly wanting to hear that “Junior” will earn a degree before he suffers a blown knee?
- Now that there is an immediate trend away from AAS by UNC athletes, or at least there was in anticipation of the NCAA investigation as pointed out above, is communications the degree of choice?
- Prior to the creation of AAS, was communications the degree of choice for UNC athletes? If so, why then and why a return to that now?
The questions linger, and for now no one at UNC seems willing to open up and address them.
The 216 decision lingers, and there seems to be no slowing down to this story anytime soon.
Stay tuned, Wolfpack fans. All those years of suffering through intolerable rhetoric from holier-than-though UNC fans and friends seem poised to be repaid… and some.
Also, congratulations to one of our most favorite Tar Heels, Marvin Austin, for graduating from UNC in 2012! (Assuming of course the alumni magazine’s use of a “(’12)” behind his name in the above-referenced article does indeed indicate he is a graduate. Other former players mentioned therein had no such qualifier.) Congrats, Marvin, and best of luck with the NY Giants!
Are we the only ones out there pulling for this kid who obviously has had to pick himself up from under the bus countless times? You go, Anchorman. Best wishes from Wolfpack Nation! Learn more on Marvin’s NFL quest here at NJ.com.