Academic Fraud Cesspool Deeper Than Previously Revealed

The N&O’s Dan Kane and J. Andrew Curliss have some new nuggets for us to ponder, some of which has been gleaned from some internal emails from academic/athletic support staff.  Nothing groundbreaking as far as the what or where, mind you.  But the scope of academic fraud at UNC-CH, not to mention the length of time during which it occurred and the number of classes in which it occurred, may have just been turned on its ear.

At this point, no sane person would argue against the fact that UNC players needed academic help, but the “help” wasn’t just limited to what has already been released voluntarily, according to Kane/Curliss.


AFRI 370 is an upper-level course at UNC-Chapel Hill for seniors majoring in African and Afro-American studies and other students with a background in the study of Africa. It was touted to have “lectures, readings and research projects” on a significant problem facing African leaders or American officials tasked with African issues.

But when it came available in the spring semester of 2010, among those enrolled were several freshman football players who struggled to read and write at a college level.

There were no lectures or readings, and the class never met, one of dozens of such classes offered between 2007 and 2011. The players simply turned in a 20-page paper they produced with extensive help from tutors and oversight from counselors. That help, at times, included intense editing and material made available for use in the papers, according to records from UNC’s Academic Support Program for Student Athletes obtained by The News & Observer.


The academic support records show the depths of the trouble in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, including information the university has not revealed in its own probes, one of which did cite 54 department classes that had no lectures. For example, it did not identify AFRI 370 as a no-show class.

The documents also describe a sometimes-contentious relationship between tutors and players, with descriptions of study sessions where players wouldn’t cooperate. The university has said that the academic fraud was limited to department chairman Julius Nyang’oro and a department manager, Deborah Crowder, but the records also suggest at least one other professor in the department was aware that no-show classes existed for struggling players.

It was Nyang’oro, the longtime chairman, who gave the players and academic support staff confidence. Nyang’oro had such low expectations for these “paper classes,” as the academic support program called them, that the work largely consisted of papers stitched together with passages from the required reading materials that were then, in some instances, “paraphrased” to avoid plagiarism concerns.

In one case, it appears that a player did nothing more than copy various articles and other background information from the Internet and paste it all into a paper before turning it over to a tutor.


But no-show classes were common knowledge within the athlete support program.

“Professor Nyang’oro, Chair of the AFRI/AFAM Studies Department, has been very generous in granting several students (not just student-athletes) the opportunity to do independent study papers,” Amy Kleissler, a learning specialist with the athlete support program, wrote in a Feb. 8, 2010, email informing tutors of the AFRI 370 paper class. “Since we have worked with him in the past in this same manner I wanted to let you know that his expectations are very reasonable and very achievable for our students.”

When one tutor told the athlete support program’s assistant director, Beth Bridger, that she was discouraged with the work one football player turned in, Bridger told her not to worry.

“Just remember,” she wrote in a March 16, 2010, email, “guys are in this class for a reason – at-risk, probation, struggling students –you are making headway … keep it positive and encouraging!”

Kinda makes one wonder how many more of these “classes” weren’t previously “found”.  Oh yeah.  That little matter of exactly when it all started?  No hard answers there either, but this paints a very….let’s just call it interesting for now….picture (bold added by me)….

Nyang’oro came to UNC in 1984 as a visiting assistant professor and became the African studies department’s chairman in 1992. University officials now admit he never received a review from a supervisor since he was elevated to that position, another institutional flaw that has since been fixed.

Until August, the university had resisted going back further than 2007 to investigate other potential academic problems in the department, so it’s difficult to assess exactly what was happening before then.

Difficult, that is, except in the case of Julius Peppers, whose transcript sat unnoticed on UNC’s website until this summer. Peppers had D’s or F’s in 11 of 30 classes, the transcript showed, and was barely eligible for football and basketball only because of a string of better grades in courses he took in the AFAM Department.

And the non athletes that were enrolled in these classes?  Some of the information now coming to light seems to indicate they didn’t want to be there to begin with…

Evidence shows that some non-athletes who enrolled in the classes did so unwittingly and were dumbfounded to find the class only consisted of a paper assignment.

One such student commented about the Spring 2010 AFRI 370 no-show class on a course evaluation website known as Koofers.

“I am taking the course by submitting a paper with Prof. Nyang’oro and it is a bit daunting,” said the student, who was not identified, in a comment posted in April 2010, long before the scandal was uncovered. “It has to be between 20-25 pages. I wish I was able to take the actual course with him.”

Thorp has said those who were enrolled in the classes were cheated out of a Carolina education.


The only other thing I’ll say is thank goodness that schools with engineering and hard science departments don’t operate this way.  Can you imagine all the buildings and bridges that would be collapsing before our eyes?  Not to mention all the things that would get blown up accidentally and our food supply dying out?  Yikes.

There’s quite a bit of material in this article, folks.  Since I don’t really want to paste the authors’ entire work here, please follow the link (here it is again) and read it in it’s entirety.  I know many of you refuse to click onto the N&O, and I’d be the last one to say you should…except, you should.  Kane, and now Curliss, have really gone to great lengths to keep this in the public eye and paint the picture that needs painting.  They deserve the hits.

Oh, and here’s the PDF document of the emails in case you missed it

Be sure make to your way over to the SFN Forums…lots of great NC State centric talk going on that you won’t find anywhere else.

About Wufpacker

A 2nd generation alumnus and raised since birth to be irrationally dedicated to all things NC State. Class of '88 and '92.

UNC Scandal

22 Responses to Academic Fraud Cesspool Deeper Than Previously Revealed

  1. Dogbreath 09/30/2012 at 9:45 AM #

    Institutionalized cheating with impunity on a massive scale. The Carolina Way.

  2. wilmwolf80 09/30/2012 at 9:59 AM #

    “They show that the athlete support program used the no-show classes to help keep student-athletes eligible to play.”- I want the NCAA to explain how this is NOT a direct violation. I want someone to ask the NCAA directly, and the NCAA to provide a real answer to this question. If institutionalized cheating specifically designed to keep athletes eligible is not an NCAA violation, then the NCAA has ZERO viability as an organization and should be disbanded.

  3. mak4dpak 09/30/2012 at 10:09 AM #

    Thanks for diverting our attention from the disaster in Miami. I believe the tarholes have a never ending list of academic violations.

  4. old13 09/30/2012 at 10:19 AM #

    Seems to me that the N&O just connected the bogus classes directly to athletics. WHERE’S THE NCAA-FRAUD!

  5. NCSU Whammer 09/30/2012 at 10:30 AM #

    We need to watch our asses with mustafa, from what i heard we might be in some real trouble with him. but for carolina, and being the “flagship” university….. HA HA HA. god i hate carolina….

  6. RickJ 09/30/2012 at 10:53 AM #

    My favorite line:

    Thorp did not explain why the records had not surfaced until now, but he said they are “of concern.”

  7. Sweet jumper 09/30/2012 at 11:33 AM #

    UNCHeat=University of Non Compliance=University of National Cheaters=UN*=THE Carolina Way

  8. Pack78 09/30/2012 at 11:46 AM #

    ^^All tarholes like Twerp are ‘concerned’ the this fraud story has blown up well beyond their ability to control it…

  9. state73 09/30/2012 at 1:20 PM #

    If the NCAA does not return to the dump on the hump to investigate, then they are as crooked the “holes”. If I were U-CON along with several others I would sue the NCAA over unequal treatment!

  10. Cabin Creek Wolf 09/30/2012 at 1:26 PM #

    Got news for all of you. The NCAA AIN’T coming back to the hill. Unless someone can come up with something that blatantly shows something like Hitler, Mussolini, Holden Thorp, Dean Smith, Osama Bin Laden, and the Ayattolah all sitting together in an underground lair punching puppies and kittens, then it ain’t gonna happen.

    Maybe it strikes my juvenile inner-self as being more hilarious than it should be, but did anyone else laugh out loud when reading about Read describing the average study session as typically having the scholar (hahaha) athletes for unc sitting around “rapping and farting?” Oh man. I’m still chuckling.

  11. MISTA WOLF 09/30/2012 at 1:51 PM #

    We got enough problems of our own to worry about rather than worry about the Heels.

  12. blpack 09/30/2012 at 2:48 PM #

    So this goes back to 92 and probably back to the 80’s. No surprise. The guys Deano and Mack recruited back then were not model citizens and apparently not students in a lot of cases. But they could play. That was all that mattered. Carolina looked after them, kept them eligible and reaped the benefits of the two-way exploitation. Few got an education, but they did get to work on their game. The university could tout grad rates and the Carolina Way. All one big, colossal, gigantic lie carried on for years and years.

  13. tulsapack 09/30/2012 at 4:21 PM #

    I work with athletes at another large, “flagship” state U, and the support staff here are aghast at what the Heels did, and what they’re getting away with.

    Out of hundreds of athletes I’ve worked with, including many “at-risk” football and basketball players, only one has ever expected me to do his work or behaved in any way like the depiction in the N+O article. The rest worked very hard, and were genuinely and deservedly proud of what they achieved as a result—because that’s what is reinforced to them every single day. It’s an institutional environment; of course they’re going to slack if that’s all that’s expected of them.

    One more thing: a few of the players wrote papers on college sports and academics for composition classes—they were all worried that the actions of the UNC athletes would make people down the line question the degrees of all college athletes. This is what the NCAA refuses to see: they hold up the scholar-athlete as an ideal, and speak of how sports is a way to a degree for borderline (or lower) students, but they refuse to act in any way to show that they take their own words seriously. Despicable.

  14. highstick 09/30/2012 at 7:15 PM #

    Cesspool?? Does that make the Old Well, the “Mouth of the Cesspool”?

  15. gumby 09/30/2012 at 8:48 PM #

    Breaking news flash – another Carolina lie. That ain’t tar on their heels.

  16. MattN 09/30/2012 at 9:51 PM #

    Anyone who thought the McAdoofus incident was isolated is a TotalFvckingMoron(tm). No one is the least bit surprised at this, except the ones wearing Carolina Blue welders goggles…

  17. virginiawolf 09/30/2012 at 10:20 PM #

    Maybe if we hadn’t just got our asses beat by Miami, I’d find some joy in this. The score was not reflective of how sloppy we played…. should have been a 21 point win for Miami. So hearing the same ol’ stuff and knowing absolutely nothing will happen up the road does not divert my concerns for our football team. It is amazing though that none of the other universities that have been slapped by the NCAA haven’t written a co-authored letter asking “WTF?”!

  18. GAWolf 10/01/2012 at 8:55 AM #

    ^ I agree that it is concerning that other Universities have not picked up the banner of unfair treatment publicly. I guess we’ll never know what folks are doing/saying behind the scenes, but considering UNC’s obviously unfair advantages through the last 30 or so years and the NCAA’s complete acceptance of that unfair advantage without action is a bit concerning to me. One would think other schools who have had to compete against UNC on the court and field without the benefit of UNC’s systematic cheating would be up in arms, too. Every university in the country playing by the rules should be furious.

  19. oceanman 10/01/2012 at 12:43 PM #

    The truely incidious part of what is becoming known about the UNC-cheat scandal is that the real losers are the athletes. The adults in the administration are talking out of all sides of their mouths trying to minimize their own culpibility and save their jobs. Nobody is talking about the athletes who were cheated out of a real education (if a UNC education is indeed real??) so that the ego maniac alums and administration could justify their so called public ivy designation. We all know now that the public ivy, flagship university and all the other self proclaimied designations are a load of crap. N. C. State Universty is the top acedemic university in the State, always has been. No self proclaimed designations required. Our alumni, our accomplishments and our value to the quality of life in North Carolina and the nation as a whole speak for themselves. What you see is what we are, no smoke and mirrors or PR staff and consultants required.

  20. fullmoon1 10/01/2012 at 3:58 PM #

    What a joke, making victims out of athletes complicit in one of the largest scale fraud and cheating operations in athletic history. I have no sympathy for any party involved. They (unc) have devalued education in this state as a whole and set us back 40 years.

  21. sf 10/01/2012 at 10:13 PM #

    remember aerospace engineering 101

  22. Greywolf 10/02/2012 at 11:26 AM #

    “University officials now admit he never received a review from a supervisor since he was elevated to that position, another institutional flaw that has since been fixed.”

    By corrected they mean he was retired?

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