Failed UNC Leadership and the ANOA

The UNC response to the amended notice of allegations by the NCAA is, sadly, a missed opportunity to demonstrate leadership against the corrupt quagmire of Big Time intercollegiate sports. In announcing the release of its response, the university unconvincingly and patronizingly claimed that “the question is whether the matters raised by the allegations meet the jurisdictional, procedural and substantive requirements of the NCAA constitution and bylaws—rules that govern athletics, not academic quality and oversight.”

The UNC mission is “to serve as a center for scholarship, research, and creativity.” As UNC’s numerous investigations and initiatives attest, Big Time sports undermines that mission. Instead of questioning the legitimacy of the NCAA to concern itself with academic quality and oversight, here’s what I hope UNC would say to the NCAA about athletics.

“Twenty years of fraudulent classes involving 3,000 students, disproportionately athletes, struck at the heart of our mission.  We have undertaken wide-ranging investigations, implemented reforms, and held a few individuals accountable.  Due to all of the compromises inherent in Big Time sports, we doubt, however, that the NCAA is capable of administering the appropriate penalties. Because athletics is ultimately about wins and losses, UNC will impose on itself the only meaningful penalty. We will forfeit all games involving any athlete who was enrolled in any of these fraudulent classes.  In order to be perfectly clear that academic cheating in the sports enterprise is unacceptable, we are using the definitive sports measure–wins and losses—not only to hold ourselves accountable, but to model—or teach, if you will—the appropriate action that the NCAA and other universities should take.”


— Lew Margolis.

Chansky’s Notebook: Did The NCAA Bury Evidence?

Was the NCAA enforcement staff hiding critical information?

On page 18 of UNC’s 73-page response to the amended Notice of Allegations is an interesting anecdote and accompanying footnote.

On March 5, 2013, the managing director of the Academic and Members Affairs (AMA) within the NCAA responded to its own enforcement staff after reading the Martin Report submitted by the university, “There are always concerns with aberrant classes comprised of a significant number of student-athletes in comparison with non-athletes; however, there is nothing definitive in the report [provided by the University] that would validate that there was a systematic effort within the African and African American Studies department motivated by the desire to assist student-athletes with maintaining their eligibility, either in how the courses were created, taught and/or how the grades awarded.”

The AMA’s conclusion confirmed that the NCAA itself had concluded that the anomalous courses and the other academic irregularities in the AFAM department did not violate NCAA rules.

Yet in the 8th footnote submitted by UNC, it was revealed that the above determination was discovered purely by happenstance on July 15, 2015, more than two years later.  Despite the fact that the enforcement staff had previously agreed UNC’s outside counsel could access all materials relevant to the investigation via a secure website, this information was not included, contrary to the requirements of NCAA Bylaw 19.5.9. They were discovered by the university only because its representatives traveled to the national office to review the physical files personally.

After Miami got off with light penalties in alleged violations far more egregious than the charges against UNC, it was discovered that the overzealous NCAA enforcement staff had obtained evidence against its own procedures and perhaps illegally in the view of a court of law. A similar violation of the NCAA’s own bylaws may have occurred here when the AMA conclusion was NOT turned over to the UNC lawyers.

That is what Carolina has spent millions of dollars investigating and fighting, not necessarily the violations it may or may not have committed, but what the NCAA actually concluded and then buried.

Chansky’s Notebook: Unprecedented Response

UNC took dead aim right between the NC-double A’s.

Carolina has said from the beginning of this academic-athletic mess that, on the other side of it, will be a model athletic program and university in how it deals with its intercollegiate teams. Carol Folt, Bubba Cunningham and their staffs have held true to that pledge, and when it came down to answering the amended Notice of Allegations, the university hit back and hit back hard with clarity in responding to a process the NCAA let linger far longer than necessary.

Yes, UNC accepted three of the email extra-benefit allegations against former woman’s basketball tutor Jan Boxill but refuted 15 of them and said the infractions that did occur were Level II or Level III at best. And Cunningham closed his news conference with public praise and thanks to women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell, which makes you believe she could survive this investigation as well.

Most of UNC’s response can be summed up in three words: Stick to Sports. The NCAA’s own bylaws do not allow it to pass judgment on courses offered and how they are taught. That’s an academic accreditation issue for which the university served a one-year probation and has since been cleared. Sure, let’s accept the hollow charge that Nyang’oro and Crowder wouldn’t speak to the NCAA, but they also stonewalled us with no subpoena power either.

And Carolina totally refutes the notion of lack of institutional control, based on such a small subset of mistakes over a long period of time that, again, is not in the jurisdiction of the NCAA. Certainly, negotiations will continue between the two parties, but I think the bull’s eye is squarely on the NCAA, which will be criticized harshly if it doles out a series of wrist slaps. However, UNC concluded clearly: Impose penalties outside your own bylaws on people and programs not mentioned or even referenced in the final NOA, and we are all going to court with the roles of plaintiff and defendant reversed.

The NCAA has never been hit back like this in such a thorough and thoughtful manner, and for that UNC has set a new precedent.

Forum Panel Discusses Notice Of Allegations

After waiting years, it had seemed like the NCAA investigation of UNC was nearly over, but the NCAA reset the clock with a new notice of allegation released Monday.

“There seems to be a general feeling of relief around Chapel Hill,” said former UNC lineman Mike Ingersoll. “I feel that same sense of relief because for the past six years now, myself and the rest of teammates have had to defend our degrees.”

Many have interpreted it as a positive for the university because the focus has seemed to shift away from men’s basketball and football.

Neither program is directly mentioned in the new notice, which alleges former UNC women’s basketball athletic academic counselor Jan Boxill provided impermissible academic assistance.

Orange county commissioner and sportswriter Barry Jacobs said the outcome of the notice isn’t surprising.

“On the other hand I thought it was disappointing because there are plenty of places, whether in the Wainstein Report or other places where it’s pretty clear that a competitive advantage was gained by keeping players eligible by steering players to certain classes,” Jacobs said.

But Unverified director Bradley Bethel expressed his disagreement with Jacobs.

“What’s clear to one person is often really the picture they’ve painted in their mind,” Bethel said. “It’s not clear to me at all what Barry said that there was all of these examples of competitive advantage and what not.”

The university is also accused of not sufficiently monitoring the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes in the formerly-known African and Afro-American Studies department from the fall of 2005 through the summer of 2011.

UNC professor Deborah Stroman said even before the Waintstein Report was commissioned, the university implemented over 70 changes to ensure another academic scandal would not happen.

“The faculty is very very mixed on this,” she said. “I know there are some faculty members who are disappointed they’re viewed as people who aren’t doing their job. Having someone come and look in your room to see whether you’re teaching your class is very disturbing and quite frankly disrespectful to us.”

But Stroman said there are also professors who don’t mind the changes because they know it will prevent another scandal.


UNC has 90 days to respond to the allegations.

While no timetable has been given for the conclusion of the investigation, it could extend into next year.

UNC Submits First Monitoring Report To SACS

UNC sent its first monitoring report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools March 11.

SACS informed the university last June that they would be maintaining their accreditation, but UNC would be placed under a one year probation as a result of the academic scandal in former African American Studies Department.

Part of the report states:

“What is doubly clear and very well documented is that the irregularities had stopped in 2011, and since that time the University has invested substantially and worked tirelessly to implement expansive reforms and proactive initiatives, hold itself the highest standards of integrity in every dimension of our operations, and ensure full confidence in Carolina’s bright future.”

The Commission on Colleges, which is overseeing the process, asked for more information from the university in July, 2015. This report is the university’s response to that request.

“My colleagues and I have worked diligently to produce a report that comprehensively answers the Commission’s specific information requests and demonstrates the University’s compliance with the Commission’s Principles of Accreditation,” said chancellor Carol Folt.

The report outlines the steps the university has taken to prevent another academic scandal and the effectiveness of the programs named.

SACS will make the final decision on UNC’s accreditation in June.

According to SACS policy, an institution must have their accreditation removed if they are on probation for two consecutive years and the institution bears the burden of proofs as to why it should not have its status removed.

If UNC were to lose accreditation, it would impact the university through the loss of federal funds, including financial aid awarded to students and grant funding awarded to faculty for research.

For the complete report, click here.

So They Are All, All Honorable Men

In the foulness of the ongoing athletic/academic scandal at UNC, former Governor Jim Martin has brought an honorable breath of fresh air.

Many were critical of Martin’s December 2012 report of his investigation into “serious anomalies” in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies. He characterized the scandal as academic, confined to one department. Subsequently, the Wainstein report, among other critiques, has confirmed that the UNC affair has involved widespread scandalous behavior by faculty, administrators, coaches, and tutors.

In a soon-to-be published biography, Governor Martin, to his credit, admits his error. “I could have said, ‘Not only is it an extraordinary athletic scandal, but it is also an incredibly damaging academic scandal.” That is an honorable, and unfortunately all too rare admission, by an individual, as the scandal has proceeded.

Take a minute to think about other individuals who have admitted that they have erred, that they failed to acknowledge how they could have used their positions of leadership and authority to avert the serious harms that have resulted. A number of senior administrators were, of course, forced out, some with undeserved graciousness, and others with appropriate disfavor. Former Chancellor Holden Thorp resigned, without providing much of an explanation.

Beyond him, the list is short. I can’t think of any others in leadership positions who have admitted, “this scandal happened on my watch, therefore I am responsible, and the honorable action is for me to step down.” These leaders may or may not have known about the corruption, may or may not have colluded, but to act with honor means to say, “I failed to uphold the standards that were expected of me as a UNC leader.”

If UNC is to advance its mission to teach the next generation of leaders, students, faculty, and the community at-large have every right to expect our leaders to act with honor, especially when doing so requires courage.

Thomas More, who took a principled stand that cost him his life, reminds us, “If honor were profitable, everybody would be honorable.”

Gov. Martin Claims He Misspoke on UNC Scandal

Former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin now says he misspoke about the UNC scandal when he told trustees: “This was not an athletic scandal. It was an academic scandal, which is worse; but an isolated one.”

These revelations were put forward in a new book slated for an October release that was previewed by the News & Observer of Raleigh.

Martin delivered the now-in-question comments nearly three years ago after a four-month investigation into academic irregularities stemming from the African and Afro-American Studies Department.

In the new book, “Catalyst: Jim Martin and the Rise of North Carolina Republicans,” Martin says, “I could have said, ‘Not only is it an extraordinary athletic scandal, but it is also an incredibly damaging academic scandal.’”

Martin’s investigation found that the so-called “paper classes” dated back into the 1990’s. But more information was found during the UNC-commissioned Wainstein Report that was released in 2014.

Wainstein, a former top official with the US Justice Department, had access to personnel involved in the paper classes that Martin did not have access to during his investigation.

The book was written by John Hood, President of the John William Pope Foundation and Chair of the Conservative think tank John Locke Foundation, and is mainly a biography of Martin.

UNC Posts Letter from SACS

UNC has made public the July 1 letter it received from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). That letter informed the university SACS was placing it probation for 12 months due to an academic fraud scandal in which more than 3,000 students received credit for bogus classes.

Chancellor Carol Folt said in early July the university would publish the letter after she and Provost Jim Dean had a chance to meet with UNC and SACS leadership. In a letter posted to the Carolina Commitment website Monday, Folt said she and Dean met with SACS Commission on Colleges  President Belle Wheelan on Monday in Decatur, Ga.

The July 1 letter from SACS explains that a SACS board found the university in non-compliance with seven principles of accreditation. Those areas include “integrity,” “program content,” “control of intercollegiate athletics,” “academic support services,” “academic freedom,” “faculty role in governance” and “Title IV program responsibilities.”

In the letter, SACS also asks the university to provide evidence that its new reforms are helping it to comply in these seven areas. It requires UNC to provide another report before April 1, 2016 and announces a plan to send a committee to visit the campus.

Boxill Resignation Comes Days Before Appeal Hearing

Dr. Jan Boxill, who has been one of the key figures in the academic scandal at UNC, resigned her position just before her appeal of her firing was to be heard by a faculty committee.

Rick White, Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs at UNC, says that process came to a halt with her resignation.

“That hearing was scheduled to take place,” he says. “However, Dr. Boxill chose to resign prior to that hearing starting. Once that letter of resignation was received and accepted, then that whole process just stopped.”

Boxill’s resignation was effective February 28.

White says they did not cut a deal for the resignation.

“That was no settlement per se,” he says. “Dr. Boxill is covered under the state of North Carolina retirement system. However, we’re treating this now simply as a resignation and not a termination, because she did resign prior to that termination process being complete.”

White says as far as the university is concerned, the resignation of Boxill is a “closed book.”

Boxill did not return a request for comment from WCHL.

Willingham: Plagiarism Was ‘Inadvertent’

Mary Willingham says her potential acts of plagiarism were inadvertent in her master’s thesis, according to the News and Observer.

The former UNC academic adviser told the N&O in a phone interview, “whatever I did, I did, and, you know, whatever. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Willingham’s master’s thesis, with which she earned the degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, was posted on the blog site InsideCarolina over the weekend. Excerpts show multiple instances where she wrote passages that are very similar, if not word-for-word, to a passage of another text without citation.

This comes after the former UNC employee has been leading a charge against the University and the NCAA demanding reform for student-athletes.

Willingham is known as the whistle blower who told CNN in January that UNC admitted athletes who were not academically eligible, and that, in turn, the University is unjustly using athletes for financial gains. She says now that the NCAA has decided to return to campus, she doesn’t want it to hand out further punishment, but instead to use the opportunity to “reform the entire system.”