Thorp: We’ve learned our lesson…we promise

Really…we promise.

The N&O’s Dan Kane keeps the heat on, keeping the stench from southern Orange County in the public eye (or nose, as it were).  Overnight he reported that UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp appeared before the university faculty at the first Faculty Council meeting of the new academic year.  Despite the fresh start of a new school year however, sounds as if Holden is sticking to some stale material.  Some choice excerpts…

CHAPEL HILL — It was a promise UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp has made over and over in the three months since announcing one of the worst academic scandals in the university’s history.

But this time it was before a standing-room-only crowd of faculty who came to hear him address the years of no-show classes that predominately benefited athletes.

“No one is more upset about this than I am; no one is more determined than I am,” Thorp told the professors at the first Faculty Council meeting of the academic year. “We are going to use this as a learning experience, and we are going to be a stronger university as a result.”

Probably no further comment really needed here.  Nope, changed my mind…

Anyone else think, if put through GAWolf’s patented UNC CHeatspeak 5000 Translator, that last paragraph would sound more like this:  No one is more upset about this going public than I am; no one is more determined to keep the rest under wraps than I am.  We are going to use this as a learning experience because you’re making us, and we are going to get better at hiding this crap in the future as a result.


Jan Boxill, the faculty chairwoman, introduced two resolutions to the council Friday that drew unanimous support. One affirmed the need for an African and Afro-American Studies Department, pointing out that the investigation has shown only two individuals within the department are responsible for the scandal: the former chairman, Julius Nyang’oro, who was forced to retire July 1; and Deborah Crowder, the former department manager who retired in 2009.

Now, I know nothing about Ms. Boxill.  I’m sure she’s a lovely woman and I don’t mean to demean her in any way.  And I’m sure that the university does, in fact, need to keep an AFAM Dept.  Probably not for the same reasons she believes, or at least would like to believe.  But that’s a totally different discussion.

No, I’m singling Ms. Boxill out here because she’s arguing the point by using the reasoning of “all clear”.  The perpetrators are gone, she says.  One small problem.  There are still “reviews” going on which very well might ruin her argument.  It’s at least likely enough in my estimation that Ms. Boxill might want to cook up her next argument and have it at the ready just in case.


The second resolution endorsed a special faculty committee report that said the university was in effect a campus of two cultures in conflict – academic and athletic. The most revealing detail from that report, released in July, was that some of the officials interviewed said athletes reported being steered by academic counselors to no-show classes.

Since then the director in charge of the academic support program for athletes has been reassigned to another job, though UNC officials said he did nothing wrong.

As has already been pointed out, for two cultures in conflict, the academic hand certainly seemed to wash the athletic hand without too much friction in this case.  The fact that academic counselors steered athletes to no-show classes should be evidence enough of that.  And nothing like this stays covered up this long if two parties are in conflict.

It does seem that some of the faculty members do have conflicts of conscience, however.  History Professor Jay Smith, who previously has not been one to keep mum about his thoughts on the matter, took the opportunity to remind Thorp just how much odor is coming from what he’s been shoveling….

Thorp spent much of his address talking about the various investigations and reviews that have been completed or are still under way, and noted roughly 70 reform recommendations have been proposed or implemented.

But one professor, Jay Smith, challenged Thorp on the university’s contention that athletics did not drive the scandal. While he praised the university for the reforms, Smith said the university has not been as forthcoming as it should have been.

He cited the last no-show class Nyang’oro taught, AFAM 280, which Nyang’oro created two days before the start of a summer 2011 semester and quickly filled with football players. News & Observer records requests revealed the athletes-only class, which prompted an ongoing criminal investigation.

“The existence of that course alone provides very powerful evidence that the Nyang’oro scandal was all about athletics,” said Smith, a history professor.


Smith said the university “should be doing all we can to get out in front of the press, and to pre-emptively air our dirty laundry, so that we can prove to the world – because we now need to prove it – that there are things more important to UNC than athletics success or the careers of individual faculty or administrators.”

His remarks drew applause from roughly 20 professors.

I bet Rubik’s boy was so ticked off at that comment, and the applause it drew, that he could not have solved that little puzzle to save his life.  Don’t worry Holden, I’ve only ever solved it once.  Of course like most people I quit trying after that.  You seem to like doing things over and over (promises, excuses, puzzles, denials).  But at least you got to meet John Davidson.  For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about and/or think I’ve lost my mind…Voila!  (Of course, assuming I had lost my mind was the safe bet).

Back to Professor Jay Smith.  Sounds like he and about 20 of his friends have had enough.  It’s good to know that at least some of the folks over there still have some basic ethics.  Not to mention common sense.  Chancellor Thorp would do well to listen to him.

Be sure to hit the SFN Forums as there is a whole lot of stuff being talked about.

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

12 Responses to Thorp: We’ve learned our lesson…we promise

  1. GAWolf 09/08/2012 at 7:39 AM #

    Dr. Smith must have extraordinary integrity to be able to stand up and speak his mind in the face of all those administrators. That takes an amazing man. I hope my son grows to be that kind of man.

  2. RabidWolf 09/08/2012 at 7:39 AM #

    I will comment on Thorpe’s comments using anold “South Park” quote….
    “that is the biggest load of pig crap I’ve ever heard in my life”

  3. Wufpacker 09/08/2012 at 7:44 AM #

    I couldn’t hold my tongue on Holden’s first quote above…had to throw in an homage to your brilliant invention.

  4. GAWolf 09/08/2012 at 8:07 AM #

    It shocks me that anyone at UNC would throw the race card given the obvious irony lost to no one except those still viewing this mess through baby blue tinted glasses. Folks are racist for doubting the cheating was just one rogue professor just because it happens to be in African American studies? Ridiculous.

    Perhaps nowhere have I seen my thoughts on that point better written than by a poster on PackPride who obviously speaks from a substantially more appropriate perspective than most people. I have wondered how long it would take for the reality of the racism in these bad acts by UNC to rise to the forefront of this debate. That university for years have snake oiled these young black men who bring the administration millions of dollars of what should be an education. For the small fraction if a percent who do make millions playing professional sports, great. For the vast majority of them who are used up and thrown out unprepared for the world that lies ahead, they are victims of a racist bait-and-switch. Even this who might be funneled to AFAM and actually, maybe, completed their educational workload are no deprived of the respect that degree should bestow upon them.

    Said much more brilliantly than I could ever say:

    AlabamaPacker wrote: This is probably too long for an opinion piece, but I think it outlines my feelings on the matter:

    My father was a black man born in 1940 in rural Alabama.  I’d say that you can imagine what that kind of life was like, but the truth is that most of us can’t.  Imagine the worst, most humiliating thing that someone has ever done to you.  Now imagine that even happening over and over again, and imagine that there is absolutely no recourse.  This is your life.  Drinking from a water fountain that only supplies warm water.  Using a public restroom that is rarely cleaned.  Being told by the local burger joint that you can only be served “around back with the garbage.”  Getting the used, sometimes incomplete textbooks from the “white” school.  Being told where and where not to sit.  These were all constant reminders that you, as a person, do not matter.

    Now imagine having gone through all of these events, having said events chronicled, and having people make a complete and total mockery of your struggles.  That is what the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has done with its AFAM department.  I have watched in horror as class after class in this department was identified as a sham.  What I find truly reprehensible, however, is the notion that these irregularities, seemingly designed to keep athletes eligible, have been identified as occurring only in the AFAM department.  That leaves me with only two logical explanations .  One possible explanation is that the University purposefully hid fake courses in this department under the misguided notion that nobody would dare question African American Studies.  The other, more frightening explanation is that the University simply does not care about African-American Studies and therefore took little interest in the department.  In either case, I am deeply troubled at the notion that the struggles endured by so many great African-Americans have been marginalized for the sake of athletics success. 

    Almost equally troubling is the complete disservice that this fraudulent degree program does to young African-American athletes.  How can athletes who don’t make it to the NFL or NBA have any hope of being successful in a curriculum full of phony classes?  It would appear that the University is chewing up and spitting out these young men once they run out of eligibility.

    When I think of how far we as a country have regarding race relations, I am truly amazed and proud.  When I think about the “AFAM sham” that is taking place at the University of North Carolina, I am thankful that my father was cremated – were he not, he would surely be rolling over in his grave.

  5. Pack78 09/08/2012 at 8:12 AM #

    Rabid-Amen, just think about how badly u*nx would look if they were not being advised by top-flight PR people (LOL)…

  6. Wufpacker 09/08/2012 at 8:21 AM #

    That is indeed a very eye opening perspective. I hadn’t been frequenting PP even as a lurker recently, even before the blow up, and hadn’t seen that, so thank you for sharing that here.

  7. state73 09/08/2012 at 8:51 AM #

    Same old diarrhea of the mouth from the dump on the hump!

  8. ppack3 09/08/2012 at 10:35 AM #

    I am very, very pleased to see that Jay Smith pointed directly at AFAM 280! This class absolutely disproves the NCAA’s reasoning for NOT investigating UNC further. The party line, from UNC and from the NCAA, is that non-athletes received the same benefits as the athletes, or they at least had the same opportunity to do so. AFAM 280 afforded non-athletes ZERO opportunity to enroll!

    And, this class is just the one class, over the course of a decade (or more) the the media has been able to uncover, despite the university’s best efforts to thwart them. Imagine the other classes that were handled in the same manner.

    I’m also certain that pre-freshmen remedial readers/writers, like Marvin Austin, weren’t enrolled in graduate level AFAM classes before stopping foot on campus.

    Yet, article after article references Thorpe and the NCAA’s party-line. “This wasn’t done for athletes. Regular students were given the same benefits.” Bunk. Bunk. Bunk. We still don’t know who the “non-revenue sport athletes” were that enrolled for those fake classes, because UNC hasn’t put out straight statistics on the subject. Their only stats are skewed and carefully worded with the sole purpose of misleading. The other students in these classes could have well been athletes from other sports, managers or students that have other ties to the athletic department.

    No one knows, because UNC won’t release the information. They won’t look into it themselves. And, the NCAA refuses to pursue anything that may involve the Basketball program because the lion’s share of their profits derive from the NCAA tournament.

    It was okay to slap UNC on the wrist when it was just football. Just not a big slap. The only other revenue stream for the NCAA is their licensed products. Wouldn’t want your top-selling Walmart jersey sales to take a header, eh?

    Good for Jay Smith. He’s the only one over on the Hump with any balls.

  9. projectwentynine 09/08/2012 at 11:58 AM #

    Again, the parallels between the current Presidential administration and that of UNC-CH are uncanny.

  10. NCSU88 09/08/2012 at 12:32 PM #

    What’s interesting to me is that, for the most part, the faculty has remained silent and appears to be accepting these excuses and explanations at face value. What happened to critical thinking skills and questioning authority? Does *NC teach its students to just go along and not question anything? Part of the whole college learning experience is speaking out, expressing your opinions and concerns and supporting them with research or data. This part of the whole scandal does not make sense to me.

  11. wufpup76 09/08/2012 at 2:32 PM #

    We’re sorry …

  12. Sweet jumper 09/08/2012 at 3:22 PM #

    When Thorp is canned, maybe he can compete on the professional Rubick Cube solving circuit. His comments on this scandal defy logic.

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