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.”http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/so-they-are-all-all-honorable-men
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/gov-martin-claims-he-misspoke-on-unc-scandal
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-posts-letter-from-sacs
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/boxill-resignation-comes-days-before-appeal-hearing
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.”http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/willingham-plagiarism-inadvertent
UNC is asking that the lawsuit filed by a former employee who claims retaliation against her speaking out should be heard by a federal court and not on the county level.
According to WRAL, the University asked North Carolina’s Eastern District of Federal Court to pick up the case filed by former academic adviser Mary Willingham because the claim she is making falls under federal law, not state law.
Willingham has said the University put player eligibility for financial benefit above academic integrity. She claimed she was never properly listened to by UNC and then took her claims to the media.
She said the retaliation came when she was told she was going to be demoted and given additional duties. Her role, she said, was also changed from advising undergraduate student-athletes to senior graduate students. Lastly, she described the office to which she had to move as “poor”.
Willingham resigned from Carolina on May 6. She first said she had made the decision to leave on April 21 after an hour-long meeting with Chancellor Carol Folt. She said the conversation made her realize there was no more she could do at UNC and that she wanted to continue her fight to correct problems with intercollegiate athletics elsewhere. Along with the lawsuit, she has asked the University System Board of Governors for reinstatement.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-asks-federal-court-hear-willingham-lawsuit
Things just have not gotten easier for North Carolina and athletic director Bubba Cunningham.
The school spent another year dealing with off-field issues, from the eligibility of a top basketball player to a long-running academic scandal and now a reopened NCAA investigation. The Tar Heels also failed to win an Atlantic Coast Conference championship in any sport for the first time.
“We’re wrestling with some of the toughest issues you can wrestle with,” Cunningham said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s taxing on the faculty. It’s taxing on the faculty council. It’s taxing on the coaches, on the students in the classroom. It is something that as an institution, we have to figure out how we can move forward.”
UNC finished 14th in the 2013-14 Directors’ Cup standings of the nation’s top overall sports programs, the first time in six years and the fourth time in the competition’s 21 seasons that it failed to make the top 10. Cunningham pointed to ACC expansion and parity as factors in the title-less season.
“It’s not that the sky is falling,” he said, “but you do need to pay attention and see what we can do to improve performance.”
The highlight was women’s tennis finishing as NCAA runner-up, while men’s tennis reached the final eight, women’s basketball came within a game of the Final Four and field hockey reached the national semifinals. Football — led by Cunningham’s first major hire, Larry Fedora — regrouped from a 1-5 start to win a bowl game.
But much of Cunningham’s third season was spent dealing concerns outside the lines.
The school spent much of 2013 investigating violations by NBA prospect P.J. Hairston before deciding not to seek his reinstatement from the NCAA, ending his college career.
Scrutiny of academics for athletes increased in January when a former UNC learning specialist told CNN that the majority of football and basketball players she studied from 2004-12 read at below-grade levels, though three outside researchers later said the data did not support her findings.
The school also hired former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein to investigate the causes of fraud — first found in 2011 — in the formerly named African and Afro-American (AFAM) department featuring classes with significant athlete enrollments and dating to the 1990s.
Then, in June, former basketball player Rashad McCants from the 2005 NCAA championship team told ESPN that tutors wrote papers for him and coach Roy Williams knew he took some of the AFAM classes in question. Weeks later, the NCAA said it was reopening its probe into academic misconduct because new information was available.
“It certainly has taken longer than I anticipated,” Cunningham said. “In 2011 we all thought we had NCAA issues with agents and amateurism. 2012 is really when the academic challenges arose. In 2013 we had a chancellor leave … so we’ve had a year of transition.
“It has been a long time to see similar issues arise. Now we’re all hopeful that this final report that we’re doing (from Wainstein) … will bring closure to it.”
Cunningham and provost James W. Dean Jr. have also spent the past year leading a review of how UNC handles academics for athletes, from the admissions process to academic support programs and NCAA compliance education. It will last into the fall.
Along the way, UNC has put some facility projects to the side while dealing with everything else.
UNC is looking at updates for an aging Fetzer Field, home to the soccer, lacrosse and outdoor track programs. UNC is also mulling upgrades or even a replacement to the Smith Center, the 21,750-seat home to men’s basketball built in 1986. Both are still in planning stages.
“It’s not always going to be perfect,” Cunningham said. “I think what I have tried to bring to the department is a sense of calm, a sense of consistency that we are moving in a positive direction, that we do have a plan in how we can continue to improve and that we’re working together for a common goal: for these students to have an outstanding experience.”http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/cunningham-says-school-working-move-forward
Rashad McCants won’t answer whether he’ll speak with UNC or investigators, but he says the University and the NCAA are prepared to pay him more than $300 million.
The former UNC basketball standout appeared on SiriusXM satellite radio this week saying the NCAA is writing him a check for more than $300 million to help build sports education programs across the country. He said UNC is writing him a check for $10 million for exploiting him while he was on the men’s basketball team and for the lack of education he received.
The more McCants speaks, the less his story seems to be told. This is the fourth time he has spoken out nationally since his first interview on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”. In that interview, he said that tutors wrote papers for him and he remained eligible only because of “paper classes” that required no attendance – and that his coaches, including head coach Roy Williams, were fully aware of what was going on. He returned to ESPN June 11 with little new information after Williams was interviewed saying he can’t believe what his former player said was taking place.
McCants’ credibility has been called into question since he went behind the mic in June. In a 2004 interview with WRAL, he compared life as a college athlete to being in jail, which he said was originally his uncle’s thought. McCants said, “Once you get out of jail, you’re free. (I’m) in my sentence, and I’m doing my time.” He said he went to class, did all his work, and went to practice and that being a part of that program kept him from doing some of the things non-athletes were able to do in college like vacationing during Fall Break.
He appeared a week later in a press conference with head coach Roy Williams. McCants explained that he was attempting to show how regimented the program was and that he was misunderstood.
Williams shared how angry he was in that press conference saying he told McCants to leave the next practice as soon as he got there. He said he told him, “there (is) a big difference in playing college basketball and being in jail. Like the game Monopoly, I told him I could just give him a ‘Get out of jail free’ card and he could leave.” Williams said he later watched the full ten-minute interview and better understood what he was trying to say. McCants was allowed to come back to practice, and Williams said he didn’t have any other problems with him.
Former Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Homeland Security Advisor, Kenneth Wainstein is conducting an independent external review of UNC’s academic irregularities. He said he reached out to McCants in May requesting an interview. That request was denied, and since McCants’ appearance on ESPN, Wainstein said he has sent another request hoping he is now willing to speak.
The NCAA announced late last month that it has reopened its 2011 investigation into the University. In a statement, athletic director Bubba Cunningham said, “the NCAA has determined that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might now be willing to speak with the enforcement staff.”http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/mccants-awaiting-big-pay-day-unc-ncaa
A former UNC football player will testify Wednesday during a U.S. Senate committee hearing which is meant to check on the well-being of college athletes.
The News and Observer reports that Devon Ramsay, a fullback who graduated from UNC in 2012, is schedule to testify, along with a former Florida State football player and Rhodes Scholar, Myron Rolle, NCAA President Mark Emmert, civil rights historian and journalist, Taylor Branch, and Richard Southall—who previously led the College Sports Research Institute at UNC and now works at the University of South Carolina. Southall is also listed on former UNC academic advisor Mary Willingham’s research that led to the most recent chapter of the academic scandal at Carolina.
Ramsay was declared ineligible by the NCAA for the 2010 season after finding he received improper financial benefits from agents and improper help form a tutor. However, further investigation found that Ramsay didn’t receive any financial benefits and he only received help on a draft of a paper in which he was given suggestions on how to improve areas of the work.
He returned to the football field the next season for one game, in which he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee in the season-opening victory against James Madison. He was given an additional year of eligibility in 2012, but the knee injury was career-ending.
Mary Willingham was in Washington, D.C. last week to speak with members of congress. However, she told WCHL that she did not have any hearings scheduled yet, and she does not appear on any witness lists at this time.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation will start its hearing at 2:30 p.m. For more on the hearing, click here.http://chapelboro.com/sports/national-sports/devon-ramsay-testify-d-c
Updated 2:53 p.m., July 7, 2014
UNC has reached out to Rashad McCants, according to the News and Observer.
The University’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Compliance and Student-Athlete Development, Vince Ille, confirmed Sunday night that a registered letter was sent to the former UNC basketball standout’s residence on June 6. Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communications Steve Kirschner told WCHL that Ille has since followed up with two text messages. As of Monday afternoon, McCants had not responded.
The letter asks McCants if he will speak with Ille in greater detail about the potential NCAA infractions he says he witnessed while attending UNC.
In an interview that aired June 6, McCants told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that tutors wrote papers for him and he remained eligible only because of “paper classes” that required no attendance – and that his coaches, including head coach Roy Williams, were fully aware of what was going on. He returned to ESPN June 11 with little new information after Williams was interviewed saying he can’t believe what his former player said was taking place.
This request isn’t the first in the investigation of UNC’s academic irregularities. Former Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Homeland Security Advisor, Kenneth Wainstein is conducting an independent external review. He said he reached out to McCants in May requesting an interview. That request was denied, and since McCants’ appearance on ESPN, Wainstein said he has sent another request hoping he is now willing to speak.
The NCAA announced last week that it has reopened its 2011 investigation into the University. In a statement, athletic director Bubba Cunningham said, “the NCAA has determined that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might now be willing to speak with the enforcement staff.”http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-requests-interview-mccants