UNC Reneges on Self-Imposed Sanctions

Remember the so-called outrage over the fake African-American history classes given to basketball players at the University of North Carolina back in 2010? An NCAA investigation was underway as of January 2015, after initially being closed in 2012, and was undertaken after the release of the Wainstein Report – which pulled the carpet back on a scam of academics that was the Afro-American studies department.

It detailed how former administrative assistant Deborah Crowder and former department chairman Julius Nyang’oro created classes that were alleged to have been fake and according to the allegations, allowed the students to receive high grades without having to show up for class, turn in papers or take tests.

The scathing investigation was conducted by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein. He reportedly found “clear evidence” that academic counselors were steering student-athletes to these classes and even requesting specific grades for certain players. Chancellor Carol Folt, who replaced Chancellor Holden Thorp after he stepped down in the heat of the scandal, said she felt “shocked and disappointed” at the findings of the 131-page report, which also stated that 3,100 students enrolled in the course between 1993 and 2011 and athletes from multiple sports made up half the total enrollment.

The investigation was said to be ongoing at the time, and of course everybody was expecting the NCAA to lower their proverbial boom on UNC, but a funny thing happened after the university announced they have accepted guilt and would levy self-imposed sanctions back in early 2016. The school reneged on that promise, the first time such a thing has ever occurred.

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(Attorney Kenneth Wainstein)

The investigation into allegations that include academic fraud was initially closed in 2012 but was reopened by the NCAA after more people agreed to cooperate. Rather than raising sand over the fact that young men were being allowed to rob themselves of the free education an athletic scholarship suggests, many fans were more concerned that the 2005 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship might be snatched away because ten players on the that team majored in African and Afro-American studies.

But Tarheel Nation is putting on their big boy draws in telling the NCAA that they have no jurisdiction over such matters. (Say word? Word!)

Last year former athletic tutor Mary Willingham tweeted that five starters and a bench player took a combined 69 fake courses. The NCAA introduced a four-tier system for their sanctioning process that ranges from severe breach of conduct to incidental issues back in 2013. I’m pretty sure fraud of this magnitude would fall under the “severe breach of conduct” side of things.

This week UNC released a statement in response to a litany of charges from the NCAA, including lack of institutional control.  Also, the university says the NCAA was aware of many of Carolina’s infractions because of its investigation into the football program and that the governing body’s initial conclusions, which occurred in 2012, were  “final, binding and conclusive”, according to NCAA bylaws and that “jurisdictional and procedural issues make it difficult … to assign appropriate penalties for the alleged violations.” 

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(Former UNC professor Jan Boxill)

The university also appears to throw former philosophy professor and women’s basketball academic counselor Jan Boxill under the bus for providing improper academic assistance, a charge vehemently denied by Boxill’s legal representation.

“It did not happen,” Boxill’s attorney Randall Roden stated in response. “Not one of the allegations against Jan Boxill is true.”

The “one” of which they speak is the aforementioned “lack of institutional control” charge. Basically UNC is agreeing that they did dirt but are denying the NCAA has the authority to do anything about it. The distinguished sports university doesn’t want to give up scholarships, cause further embarrassment or impose sanctions if it doesn’t “legally” have to. 

At the moment this fight doesn’t appear to be a game of chess or checkers anymore, but something different all together. With all the unprecedented maneuvering and posing being done by UNC maybe a game of Connect Four would be the appropriate analogy for this scenario.

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