UNC should lose accreditation from SACS and their AAU Membership with it.
With people questioning the value of higher education, the inflation in tuition fees and administrative salaries, and the devaluation of a Bachelors or Masters degree, should the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s extreme misconduct and fraud be treated with impunity, it would be disgraceful and damaging to higher education in the United States as a whole.
The NCAA, the corrupt monopolistic cartel that oversees collegiate athletics, has handed down five charges of violations against UNC. This is more than just a basketball story, this is a case of systematic academic fraud at one of the leading public institutions of higher learning in the United States. This is an institution that has notoriously difficult admissions standards for out-of-state students and is considered a standard bearer of higher education in the South. It is an institution that former University of Georgia President Michael Adams (known for his own corruption issues, malfeasance and a receiving a vote of no confidence from faculty of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences) used as an example of what he wanted the University of Georgia to be like.
“I continue to believe that the people of this state deserve a flagship university every bit as good as do the people of California or Michigan or North Carolina.”
The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill’s situation is likely not unique. However, they should and hopefully will be held up as an example to institutions that have LSU Head Football Coach Les Miles’ alleged attitude toward academics when he was at Oklahoma State.
“Academics first,” he would hold up two fingers. And as he said, “Football second,” he would hold up one.
“You heard his words but you saw what he was doing,” says Doug Bond, a Cowboys offensive lineman from 2002 to ’04. “So the thought process was that you’re going to school just so you can play football.”
Accreditation bodies, university rating organizations and all other organizations that could render a punishment should use UNC as an example to all other schools that priorities are spiraling out of control. Higher standards and expectations should come along as part of a reform effort. Why should just those that graduate with degrees in the Humanities with $100,000+ in debt be the only ones left accountable for their decisions?
The NCAA Allegations against the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Allegation #1: Impermissible Benefits[NCAA Division I Manual Bylaw 188.8.131.52 (2002-03 through 2010-11)]
“It is alleged that beginning in the 2002 fall semester and continuing through the 2011 summer semester, the institution provided impermissible benefits to student-athletes that were not generally available to the student body.”
- The African and Afro-American Studies faculty and staff members provided services to student-athletes that were otherwise not available to the rest of the student population.
- The most egregious offenses alleged are:
- Athletics academic counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) requested specific courses to take place, contacted individuals in the African and Afro-American Studies department to register student-athletes into the classes and handled the class assignments for the student-athletes.
- The academic counselors also suggested assignments to the AFRI/AFAM department for student-athletes to complete, turned in papers on behalf of student-athletes and even recommended grades.
- Misalignment of course practitioning: Independent study courses were misrepresented as lecture courses.
There were 252 exhibits that contributed to the NCAA coming to this particular allegation. Some of the highlights are:
- The time frame covered Fall 2002 through Summer 2011, which truncates what is really a two decade problem.
- July 22, 2010 – Email from Jan Boxill (Boxill), then philosophy instructor, director of the Parr Center for Ethics, women’s basketball athletic academic counselor in ASPSA and chair of the faculty, to Travis Gore (Gore), administrative support associate in the AFRI/AFAM department. This includes, but is not limited to, recommending a grade on a paper for a then student-athlete.
- August 1, 2009 – Email from Boxill to Crowder, who is Deborah Crowder, former student services manager of the AFRI/AFAM department. This includes, but is not limited to, Boxill asking Crowder if an assignment from a previous class would work for a then women’s basketball student-athlete.
- April 8, 2010 – Email from Lee to Nyang’oro. This includes, but is not limited to, Lee’s inquiry regarding a Swahili class and whether the department would offer it as a research paper topic course.
- June 19, 2009 – Email from Reynolds to Andre Williams (A. Williams), former director of football student-athlete development. This includes, but is not limited to, Reynolds’ statement that Crowder was retiring from the AFRI/AFAM department and that the football student-athletes should expect C’s and D’s if they failed to turn in papers before Crowder’s retirement.
- February 8, 2007 – Email from Boxill to Huffstetler. This includes, but is not limited to, Boxill providing some suggestions for an assignment for the men’s basketball student-athletes enrolled in her philosophy course.
- November 15, 2009 – Email from Reynolds to Corey Holliday (Holliday), associate athletic director for football administration. This includes, but is not limited to, Reynolds explaining to Holliday that she would move a football student-athlete out of a section of AFAM that required attendance into a “paper course” section.
- May 10, 2005 – Email from Reynolds to Holliday. This includes, but is not limited to, Reynolds mentioning the cut back in “paper courses” in the AFRI/AFAM department and the impact the reduction in courses could have on student-athlete eligibility.
- Email from Crowder to Holliday. This includes, but is not limited to, Crowder mentioning that she would change a football student-athlete’s grade once he turns in a paper.
- June 7, 2010 – Email from Whitney Read (Read), former tutor in ASPSA, to Bridger. This includes, but is not limited to, Read’s discussion of a Swahili professor requesting that student-athletes enroll in an independent study course rather than a traditional Swahili course.
- May 21, 2009 – Email from Reynolds to Crowder. This includes, but is not limited to, Reynolds asking if the incoming freshman student-athletes could get a C or better in a specific class.
- July 1, 2009 – Email from Crowder to the AFRI/AFAM studies faculty. This includes, but is not limited to, Crowder asking the faculty for their teaching requests and Crowder mentioning that she would no longer add fictitious courses on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in order to comply with the institution’s regulations.
Strangely, UNC did not get any allegations going back to 1993 as found in the Wainstein Report, which means that the late Dean Smith would likely have been either complicit, aware or blissfully ignorant of the way that the University of North Carolina had manipulated academic activity for student-athletes specifically through the African and Afro-American Studies Department. There are those that found conflicts between the response by UNC and the Wainstein Report as far as the 1993 start of academic impropriety, which is timed out in such a way that it protects the 1993 UNC National Championship Basketball Team.
As if steering black student-athletes toward the African and Afro-American Studies and Swahili courses was bad enough, UNC manipulated their student-athlete experience so that they could coast by on the minimum amount of actual academic work because they either wanted them to focus solely on athletics or truly believed that these students were not fit for a rigorous university education. Not only was UNC dragging down two degree programs, they were being rather racist. Hoop skirts are not necessarily an offensive systematic act, it is a form of dress. However, is it not racist to steer black men and women into majors concerning their race or a language of their possible ancestors? According to the Wainstein Report, this goes back to when Dean Smith coached the team and he is held up by the media and many in the coaching progression as a progressive, tolerant man, but he may not have been as evolved nor courageous as society would have wanted. According to the Wainstein Report, 54 student-athletes at North Carolina took paper courses in the African and Afro-American Studies Department under his watch.
“Chapel Hill had four different head men’s basketball coaches during the period in which the AFAM paper courses were offered. During the Dean Smith era (1961-1997), there were 54 basketball player enrollments in AFAM independent studies.137 In the three years of Coach Bill Guthridge’s tenure (1997-2000), there were 17 basketball enrollments in paper classes. There were 42 enrollments in paper classes under Coach Matt Doherty (2000-2003) and 167 under Coach Roy Williams (2003-present).” – Wainstein Report
Look at the time frame of the NCAA allegations and align that with the coaches that were in place. Did the NCAA choose not to speak ill of the recently deceased Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge and decide to focus on activity that took place from 2002-2011?
Allegation 1 is rather heavy in findings, but nowhere close to as damning as the Wainstein Report. The NCAA’s own advertising language several years back makes it clear that most student-athletes do not play professional sports, but become a part of the professional workforce and contribute to our economy and community. However, most fans forget that student-athletes are just 18-22 year olds trying to balance their academic and athletic requirements and expectations. Academic dishonesty and fraud devalue both student and student-athletes’ hard-earned degrees.
Allegation #2: Knowingly Providing Impermissible Benefits
“Jan Boxill (Boxill), then philosophy instructor, director of the Parr Center for Ethics, women’s basketball athletic academic counselor in the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes (ASPSA) and chair of the faculty, knowingly provided extra benefits in the form of impermissible academic assistance and special arrangements to women’s basketball student-athletes.”
What kind of special, impermissible academic assistance did Boxill authorize?
- Additional content to student-athlete’s papers on multiple occasions.
- Physically turned in a paper for a student-athlete.
- She even recommended a particular grade for the paper that she turned in to the department.
Allegation #3: Failure to Furnish Information and Cooperate with the Investigation
“It is alleged that in 2014 and 2015, Deborah Crowder (Crowder), former student services manager in the African and Afro-American Studies department, violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when she failed to furnish information relevant to an investigation of possible violations of NCAA legislation when requested to do so by the NCAA enforcement staff and the institution. Specifically, Crowder refused to participate in an interview with both the institution and the enforcement staff despite at least three requests for her participation.”
This problem reaches deeper into the African and Afro-American Studies department, but not cooperating with an investigation is actually a somewhat common practice. Allegations 1 and 5 are the heart of the matter.
Allegation #4: Failure to Furnish Information and Cooperate with the Investigation
“It is alleged that in 2014 and 2015, Dr. Julius Nyang’oro (Nyang’oro), former professor and chair of the African and Afro-American Studies department, violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he failed to furnish information relevant to an investigation of possible violations of NCAA legislation when requested to do so by the enforcement staff and the institution. Specifically, Nyang’oro refused to participate in an interview with both the institution and the enforcement staff despite at least five requests for his participation.”
Naturally, he would not want to comment on the matter either.
Allegation #5: Failure to Monitor and Lack of Institutional Control
“Specifically, individuals in the academic administration on campus, particularly in the college of arts and sciences, did not sufficiently monitor the AFRI/AFAM and ASPSA departments or provide appropriate supervision for these academic units and their staffs. The AFRI/AFAM department created anomalous courses that went unchecked for 18 years. This allowed individuals within ASPSA to use these courses through special arrangements to maintain the eligibility of academically at-risk student-athletes, particularly in the sports of football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. Although the general student body also had access to the anomalous AFRI/AFAM courses, student-athletes received preferential access to these anomalous courses, enrolled in these anomalous courses at a disproportionate rate to that of the general student body and received other impermissible benefits not available to the general student body in connection with these courses.”
Let’s take a 30 second timeout here. They mention 18 years of these “unchecked” anomalous courses, who is to say that this was not tacitly supported rather than merely “unchecked”. Student-athletes that do not fit the bill are segregated from students and student-athletes that do at UNC. If there are 18 years of “unchecked” activity, why is the focus of the NCAA investigation isolated to just activity taking place from 2002 through 2011?
Comparing the UNC Situation to UGA’s Situation with Harrick Jr.
University of Georgia Academic Scandal and Impermissible Benefits Violations
On March 31, 1999, the University of Georgia hired Jim Harrick to coach the men’s basketball team after a disappointing run by Tubby Smith’s handpicked successor, Ron Jirsa. This was a controversial hire at the University of Georgia considering that Harrick left behind him a scandal at Rhode Island and was fired by UCLA due to rules violations. Harrick won a National Championship and after seeing former Head Coach Tubby Smith win a National Championship in 1998 at Kentucky, there was a sense of desperation in the air. Then University of Georgia President Michael Adams clashed with former Athletic Director Vince Dooley concerning Ron Jirsa’s successor. Dooley was not in favor of hiring Harrick, but Adams wanted Harrick because he knew him back during his tenure at Pepperdine. Adams won out in this decision and Harrick became the Head Coach.
Jim Harrick’s teams experienced success in the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons with each team reaching the NCAA Tournament. There was much expectation surrounding the 2002-03 squad coming off a season where Georgia tied for first in the SEC East division and many talented players were coming back such as Jarvis Hayes, Jonas Hayes, Steve Thomas, Ezra Williams, Damien Wilkins, Rashad Wright and Chris Daniels. The 2002-03 squad was having a very good season and then allegations from Tony Cole surfaced concerning academic fraud and improper payments.
The improper payments were rather small compared to most modern scandals. Tony Cole, a backup Point Guard that played only one season at the University of Georgia (2001-02) that received $300 from Jim Harrick Jr. (his son and assistant coach). Harrick Jr. wired $300 to Tony Cole in care of Eva David as evidenced by a Western Union receipt. Harrick Jr. also provided Tony Cole with access to his credit card so that Cole could purchase a television from Circuit City.
Cole had a troubled tenure at Georgia, as he and Steve Thomas both were indicted on April 4, 2002 for their involvement in a rape and sexual assault at Tony Cole’s McWhorter Hall dormitory on January 14, 2002. Cole faced aggravated assault charges while Steve Thomas faced rape and aggravated assault charges. On September 3, 2002, charges were dropped against Tony Cole and Steve Thomas. Tony Cole was dismissed in September 2002 for rules violations, but Steve Thomas would remain at Georgia until being dismissed in September 2003 by Dennis Felton.
Tony Cole was motivated by revenge as he believed that Jim Harrick Sr. did not support him when he faced aggravated assault charges and then was dismissed in the wake of the charges being dropped. Cole was motivated to bring down Harrick, but he ultimately brought down the Georgia Basketball program, created a major rift within the University of Georgia Administration and sowed the seeds of discontent and dissent among UGA alumni. Tony Cole, out of revenge, let Jeremy Schaap and other media members know about how Jim Harrick Jr. provided him with the improper benefits and the academic fraud that took place in PEDS 3912.
PEDS 3912 or “Coaching Methods for Basketball” was a course taught in the Fall of 2001 by Jim Harrick Jr. that featured an overly simple final exam and had 31 students enrolled in the course, 10 of them were student-athletes. Three of those 10 student-athletes were Rashad Wright, Tony Cole and Chris Daniels all members of the Men’s Basketball team, were the only students that did not attend the class. Arnett Mace Jr., the then University of Georgia vice president for academic affairs and provost, insisted, “This is a course that is required for the certificate in coaching. We have majors in this institution who have interest in a career in coaching in high school or another level. This is a requirement for that, the same as we have requirements for other professions.”
All 31 students received an A in the class and both Dooley and Adams acknowledged the fraud concerning that particular class. No other classes were found to have this problem and policies were immediately put in place to ensure that college coaches were not permitted to teach courses to their own players at the University of Georgia. Jim Harrick Jr. was suspended on February 28, 2003 and then fired five days later. The Georgia Basketball program was removed from all postseason tournaments in 2003. Jim Harrick himself was suspended with pay on March 10, 2003 and then on March 27, 2003 resigned.
How UGA’s Jim Harrick Scandal is Different from UNC’s Current Quagmire
- Jim Harrick Jr. taught his one “blowoff class” for one semester at UGA, UNC professors and the Athletic Department were complicit in their academic fraud for more than course for at least two decades.
- The academic fraud was limited to one class at UGA, while the academic fraud was systemic at UNC placing students into fraudulent degree programs.
- UGA did not direct students to take any particular classes or majors, UNC placed students that they believed would not handle the academic rigors of the institution into the AFRI/AFAM courses that were rigged.
- At UGA, in only one class were student-athletes able to completely get away with not attending class and still receive an ‘A’, 28 out of 31 students did attend class and 21 out of 31 of Harrick Jr.’s students were not student athletes. At UNC, there were special courses and course structures made for student-athletes.
- At UGA, the academic fraud was limited to three student-athletes participating in one sport. At UNC, the fraud is present with student-athletes of multiple sports.
- UGA did not let the scandals continue, acted swiftly and then chose to act in its own worst interest leading to further investigations, internal protocol changes, sanctions and a scorched earth approach. UNC chose to cover things up and protect particular individuals and championship teams.
What was happening at UNC was not only far worse, but it was not reined in at all. UNC folks cannot defend this activity and point fingers at UGA here. They have to demand accountability of their alma mater and take their medicine here.
Why Should UNC Lose Accreditation?
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOS) is the accrediting body for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There are standards by which the institution violated and these are core requirements that have put other institutions on probation, but the way this situation was handled over such a long period of time and affected so many students and student-athletes makes it a case where a punishment that is stricter than probation is in order.
Core Requirement 2.7.4:
“The institution provides instruction for all course work required for at least one degree program at each level at which it awards degrees.
[Notice that the remaining portion of this standard applies only to institutions that do NOT teach all of the coursework for at least one degree program at a particular level (associate, baccalaureate, master’s, specialist, doctoral), institutions such as those that teach only the upper-level courses for the baccalaureate program.]
IF the institution does not provide instruction for all such course work and (1) makes arrangements for some instruction to be provided by other accredited institutions or entities through contracts or consortia or (2) uses some other alternative approach to meeting this requirement, the alternative approach must be approved by the Commission on Colleges. In both cases, the institution demonstrates that it controls all aspects of its educational program. (See Commission policy “Core Requirement 2.7.4: Documenting an Alternate Approach.”)”
What pray tell was the alternative approach here? Nothing. Changing lecture courses into independent study paper courses and then having the independent study papers being completed by those within the Athletic Department is not acceptable alternative approach. Moreover, foreign language courses (Swahili) that are supposed to be taught in a classroom of some sort were taught as an independent study and the papers were completed not by the student-athletes at all. More than 3,000 students over possibly more than eighteen years were affected by this. When you have students with degrees in Swahili that do not know Swahili, there’s a problem.
Core Requirement 3.2.11:
“The institution’s chief executive officer has ultimate responsibility for, and exercises appropriate administrative and fiscal control over, the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program. (Control of intercollegiate athletics) Suggestion:Attack this standard from both sides. From the CEO’s perspective, use the job description, calendar of meetings, and record of actions to show “responsibility” and “control.” From the intercollegiate athletics perspective, use job descriptions, budgeting processes, and policies/procedures to show the flow through the CEO.”
Was there control here? Take the time to ask yourself that. There was a lack of institutional control that goes back two decades. There were lies and fiefdoms much like the way some poorly managed corporate departments operate. Dean Smith, Sylvia Hatchell, Bill Guthridge, Anson Dorrance, Matt Doherty, Roy Williams, Mack Brown, Butch Davis, Everett Withers, John Bunting and Carl Torbush did not do a thing about any of these problems. Nobody blew the whistle here. Athletic Directors, Deans and academic administrators did nothing. There was no responsibility nor control. Consequential actions only came four years after the period of fraud had supposedly ended.
This is more than just one rogue assistant basketball coach that happened to teach a class that required minimal effort for a semester. This is a repeated activity and we will know whether the administrators were committing the sin of omission or commission when the SACS reports their findings.
Core Requirement 3.4.4:
“The institution has a defined and published policy for evaluating, awarding, and accepting credit for transfer, experiential learning, advanced placement, and professional certificates that is consistent with its mission and ensures that course work and learning outcomes are at the collegiate level and comparable to the institution’s own degree programs. For all standards that require a policy, institutions must document publication of the policy in appropriate institutional documents. The institution assumes responsibility for the academic quality of any course work or credit recorded on the institution’s transcript. (See Commission policy “The Transfer or Transcripting of Academic Credit.”)”
Is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill willing to accept responsibility for 3,000 students getting fraudulent grades and degrees by taking fraudulent classes? The degrees were issued and the students were directed to take the particular courses.
Core Requirement 3.4.6:
“The institution employs sound and acceptable practices for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses, regardless of format or mode of delivery. (Practices for awarding credit)”
If you recall earlier, there were classes taken by student-athletes that were supposed to be lecture courses that were only lecture courses on paper. These lecture courses were of course independent study courses that had papers that were not completed by student-athletes and the ASPSA suggested grades to the instructors and professors for the particular papers and overall course grades. The ASPSA worked in conjunction with the African and Afro-American Studies department to deliberately work around the rules regarding independent study courses to create the lecture courses that existed in the course description only.
Core Requirement 3.4.9:
“The institution provides appropriate academic support services. (Academic support services)”
Does ‘appropriate’ mean placing students into pre-arranged courses that would provide the students’ with a minimal courseload, papers that are already written for them and grade negotiation? If so, then college is a complete racket.
Core Requirement 3.4.10:
“The institution places primary responsibility for the content, quality, and effectiveness of the curriculum with its faculty.”
It seems that tail wags the dog here. The academic institution is supposed to have authority over the athletic programs, but it seems that the academic institution (UNC) has put the needs of the athletic programs first. Not only are the quality, content and effectiveness of the curriculum completely worthless, but an academic department is completely beholden to the demands of UNC Athletics.
Core Requirement 3.13.1:
“The institution complies with the policies of the Commission on Colleges. (Policy compliance)”
Certainly these activities would be inconsistent with the policies of SACS Commission on College. If not, then the accreditation body is a complete joke, now isn’t it?
AAU Membership Revocation
Removal of accreditation would likely result removal from AAU as well. The AAU (Association of American Universities) is an invitation-only organization that consists of 62 member universities that hold themselves to the highest standards of research and education. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a current member.
“The Association of American Universities is an association of leading comprehensive research universities distinguished by the breadth and quality of their programs of research and graduate education. Membership in the association is by invitation. The association maintains a standing Membership Committee, which periodically evaluates both non-member universities for possible membership and current members for continued membership, with the goal of ensuring that the association in fact comprises comparable leading research-intensive universities. Non- member universities whose research and education profile exceeds that of a number of current members may be invited to join the association; current members whose research and education profile falls significantly below that of other current members or below the criteria for admission of new members will be subject to further review and possible discontinuation of membership.“
If UNC were to lose their accreditation, logically their academic profile would fall significantly below that of current members. Even sanctions or probation by SACS should lead to discontinuation of membership, if AAU truly stood by their own standards of membership.
Will UNC Receive the Deservedly Harsh Punishment?
Likely not. Politics, money and the fear of opposition research will likely prevent mutually assured destruction. If UNC goes down, others will follow because UNC is likely not the only program with skeletons in their closets. There will be eager UNC alumni that will try to dig up whatever dirt that they can on other institutions to bring others down to their level.
UNC should be punished harshly to discourage this sort of a situation from happening again somewhere else and start a reformation era. Colleges and universities are starting to lose in the court of public opinion as more individuals and media have questioned the value of the role of universities. Free speech issues, tuition costs, student debt and unprepared graduates are all current problems associated with institutions of higher learning. Systemic academic fraud involving student-athletes that are only compensated with an education is an insult and it cheapens the degrees of the students that actually do put in the effort to earn their degrees.