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Academic fraud and UNC basketball

July 30, 2012


Basketball.  UNC basketball.  Academic fraud and UNC basketball.  Scandal and UNC basketball.


Sorry for the litle rant to start this piece.  It seems that until 7/26/12, nobody in the media would say the words "basketball" and "fraud" in the same sentence when discussing the University of North Carolina.  I just wanted to make sure that the laws of nature and physics would allow for a single sentence to contain the words "UNC basketball players committed academic fraud."  Well, I'm still alive and well... so I guess God did not strike me down for pairing those words together.


Since 2010, it has been known that UNC football has been involved in an academic scandal... a scandal which led to vacated games, post-season bans, and players being ruled ineligible.  In June 2012, reports began breaking that the academic scandal with UNC football was far from over.  Information came out that there was a high amount of academic fraud within the African & Afro-American Studies Deptartment.  An internal investigation conducted by UNC determined that at least 54 classes from the African & Afro-Amrican Studies Department were deemed fraudulent from 2007-present.  It has also been determined that 39% of the enrollment in the fraudulent courses consisted of UNC football AND basketball players.  When you look at current and former basketball and football players, the enrollment jumps to 64%.  Keep in mind that football and basketball players make up less than 1% of the student population at UNC.  Less than 1% of the student population made up 39% of the enrollment in fake classes.  No, that's not an accident.  No, that's not a coincidence.  On 7/26/12, a committee of UNC faculty stated that it was not an accident.  The academic advising staff for athletics steered football and basketball players to the fraudulent classes.  By the way, UNC has since publicly stated that the academic advising staff is now prohibited from even suggesting classes to athletes.


Here's what gets frustrating: basketball's involvement has almost completely been ignored with the academic scandal.  There has been almost no national coverage of the academic fraud scandal at UNC.  Pretty much the only source pushing the issue on the scandal is the Raleigh News & Observer.  In fact, the News & Observer has been all over the story... regarding football.  It seems that only football is getting talked about regarding this scandal.  Nobody with any clout is willing to acknowledge that basketball was involved.

Here's where I stepped in.  I am about to share some information with you, but I want you to know that you're far from the first to see it.  I e-mailed every national sports media member.  Seriously... I'm pretty sure I got them all.  I challenge you to name a national sports media member that I did not contact.  I sent well over 100 e-mails to national sports media members and several local sports media members about the involvement of UNC's basketball team.

I got two replies.  Two... out of at least 100 e-mails.  Two.  Dan Wolken of The Daily and Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead.

Wolken dropped out after 2-3 e-mails.  McIntyre was ready to work.

Jason McIntyre and I worked closely for 2 weeks on the story.  We exchanged a phone call and countless e-mails.  Here is the story on UNC basketball that was released by Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead on Thursday, July 26, 2012.  McIntyre was willing to say it:  UNC basketball fraud.

The information I'm about to discuss is all linked in The Big Lead article.

For some odd reason, UNC stopped digging in 2007.  UNC released information that 54 fraudulent classes existed inthe African & Afro-American Studies Department from 2007-present.  Since 2007...at least 23 enrollments were filled by UNC basketball players in at least 18 different fraudulent classes.  UNC does not dispute this fact.  It has been confirmed.

UNC's internal investigation did not include 26 suspiscious independent study classes within the African & Afro-American Students Department in the list of confirmed 54 fraudulent classes.  Of the 26 independent study classes in the African & Afro-American Studies Department, 13 were "taught" by Julius Nyang'oro.  Nyang'oro was the head of the African & Afro-American Studies Department when the fraud occurred.  Nyang'oro has been heavily linked to the fraud.  The majority of the 26 independent study courses were over-filled past the maximum enrollment of one... before a professor was assigned.  UNC has not released this information, but I'm curious to know how many football and basketball players took those suspicious independent study courses from the African & Afro-American Studies Department.  It's not an unreasonable question.


While UNC stopped the internal investigation at 2007, UNC basketball has a long history of steering players to the African & Afro-American Studies Department.  What if the fraud from 2007-present existed prior to 2007?  Not an unreasonable question since the staff/faculty involved with the fraud were involved with the department long before 2007.  Before "retiring" as the scandal broke, Julius Nyang'oro had been with the program for many years.  Likewise, Deborah Crowder had been with the program for years... and she mysteriously retires in 2009.  The guilty personnel had been with the African & Afro-American Studies Department far longer than 2007.


The 2005 national championship team had 7 players to major in African & Afro-American Studies.  The 2005 team is not the only UNC basketball team in the last 20 years to have mutliple players major in African & Afro-American Studies, but it certainly has the highest percentage.  In fact, most UNC basketball teams in the last 20 years have had African & Afro-American Studies majors.  When did it suddenly stop?  2009.  I have confirmed that UNC basketball had at least one major in African & Afro-American Studies every year for at least a decade until 2009.  Since 2009, not a single UNC basketball player has majored in African & Afro-American Studies.  Why the sudden change?  UNC goes at least a decade and then suddenly goes 3 straight years without a major in African & Afro-American Studies.  Odd.


Even though UNC basketball players have not majored in African & Afro-American Studies since 2009, the basketball players have not stopped taking classes from the fraudulent department.  John Henson took Swahili in the Fall of 2011.  Reggie Bullock took Swahili in the Summer of 2011.  During those specific time periods, Swahili was included in the list of fraudulent classes from the African & Afro-American Studies Department.  While not 2011, Tyler Hansbrough also took Swahili during the time period that was deemed to be fraudulent.  There are countless other UNC basketball players who have taken classes from the fraudulent department since 2009, but those three popped up quite easily in a Google search.


UNC has clearly had numerous basketball players majoring in African & Afro-American Studies.  However, what UNC should release is the number of basketball players who took courses from the fraudulent department without actually majoring in the department.  I did some calculations based on UNC's website and found that any student can take up to 15 courses from the African & Afro-American Studies Deparment that satisfy requirements for the general education curriculum.  In addition to general education requirements, it only takes 13 classes from the African & Afro-American Studies Department to earn a major in that department.


There have been a few UNC basketball players who started out delcaring Communications as their major, but then as seniors, suddenly switched to African & Afro-American Studies...very late in their academic career.  In order for this to work, they had to be taking a high number of African & Afro-American Studies classes as general education classes along the way.  How common is this practice among UNC basketball players?  I'd love to know how many African & Afro-American Studies classes are used to fill the general education requirements of UNC basketball players.  Being able to take up to 15 classes from the fraudulent department to work toward graduation/eligibility is a high number.


It is important to note that saying these classes are "fraudulent" does not simply mean they are the "bunny" classes that every athlete since the dawn of time has taken.  These classes were fake.  Many of the classes never met.  Many of the "classroom" classes happened while the professor (Nyang'oro) was in Africa.  How did students supposedly meet with Professor Nyang'oro in a Chapel Hill classroom when he was physically in Africa?   Professors had their names forged to classes that they never taught and for which they never got paid.  UNC professors are in an uproar about what happened with the African & Afro-American Studies Department.  UNC prides itself on academic integrity and reputation... and UNC professors know how this academic fraud scandal makes the school look.  UNC professors are angry that their academic integrity has taken a hit due to fraud aiding athletics.


Why is academic fraud such a big deal?  It's safe to say that most basketball players only carry the minimum class load to keep them classified as full-time students.  Part-time students are not eligible to play NCAA sports.  The fraudulent classes should be stricken from the transcript of all who took them.  If one or more classes disappear from the transcript, that athlete is suddenly below full-time status... and would not have been eligible to play sports.  What about GPA's?  What happens to a player's GPA when the fraudulent class is removed?  Is the GPA sitll high enough to remain academically eligible?


We all know what happens when ineligible players are played.  UNC's 2005 and 2009 national championship teams had players who took fraudulent classes... along with every UNC team from 1999-00 to 2008-09.... and much further beyond.


Will the NCAA do the right thing?

The Carolina Way is tainted... and has been for a very long time.

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Comments (1)
Jonathan wrote on Mar 27 at 3:25 pm
Are you not the pot calling the kettle black? Why do you not stick to disparaging UK and leave UNC alone. You have a coach now that is a notorious cheater and left a number of schools on probation and UK has all those basketball championships from...oh no dare I say it, one of the most racist coaches to ever coach basketball in the NCAA. I am not surprised to see this on a UK site. Spread the truth about UK how about it.