HILLSBOROUGH - Former UNC African and Afro-American Studies chair Julius Nyang’oro faces one felony charge placed by an OrangeCounty grand jury Monday morning.
Orange and Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall says hundreds of thousands of documents were part of the investigation that concluded about a month ago and lasted nearly a year and a half. He says, from the beginning, he said that he didn’t believe there would be many if any criminal charges against anyone involved, and he couldn’t justify continuing the investigation.
“Quite frankly, we could have continued the investigation, because there are always avenues, more people that could be interviewed,” Woodall says. “But the agent and I decided the active investigation needed to be shut down because we had taken it as far as we felt we should.”
Woodall alleges Nyang’oro accepted $12,000 for a summer class he did not teach. If convicted, that charge will likely not result in time in prison.
“Whenever this investigation started, I told media outlets that I doubted there would be criminal charges,” Woodall says. “If there were criminal charges, I felt like they would be relatively minor. Now this is a felony charge which is a serious charge, but in the scheme of things, it’s one of the lower-level felony charges.”
He says the legality of the issue has been somewhat overblown.
“I felt that this was primarily an issue of academic integrity with the University,” Woodall says. “People have referred to this as academic fraud which is not a good thing obviously, but it’s not necessarily illegal.”
Woodall says while the investigation has concluded, there could be additional charges.
“There’s the potential for at least one other person to be charged,” Woodall says. “If that person is charged, that would probably happen in January. There are no current UNC employees who are the subjects of any investigation.”
Woodall did not name any names, but those charges could come against longtime AFAM department manager Deborah Crowder.
UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement, ““The action described in today’s indictment is completely inconsistent with the standards and aspirations of this great institution. This has been a difficult chapter in the University’s history, and we have learned many lessons. I am confident, because of effective processes already put in place, we are moving ahead as a stronger institution with more transparent academic policies, procedures and safeguards.”
Click here to read the full statement.
An external review by former North Carolina governor, Jim Martin found abnormalities in classes in the AFAM department dating back to 1997. The UNC administration says procedures have been put in place to make sure problems like these don’t happen again.
Nyang’oro was the department’s first chairman and took the position in 1992. He held the position until August 2011 when internal investigations into the department began at which time he stepped down. He retired from teaching in June 2012 amid ongoing investigations.
Governor Martin’s review stated the issue was not athletic in nature as non-athletes had equal access to the benefits.
The Martin Report found that the academic fraud included in excess of 200 lecture classes that never met and more than 500 grade changes, averaging B+.
State Bureau of Investigations probes have identified both Nyang’oro and his department manager, Deborah Crowder, as the two mainly responsible for no-show classes. Crowder retired from UNC in September 2009.
Five people were recently indicted by Secretary of State Elaine Marshal for breaking the Unified Athlete Agent Act. Former UNC tutor Jennifer Wiley Thompson was among those charged with athlete-agent inducement in connection with Georgia-based sports agent, Terry Watson. Watson was also indicted as he is accused of luring athletes to use him as an agent once they decided to go pro.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/former-unc-afam-chair-indicted-oc-grand-jury/
CHAPEL HILL – UNC Chancellor Carol Folt says there are too many new processes that have been put in place since the AFAM scandal for her to be up to speed on the specifics of them in the five months she’s held the position. These comments were made in a WCHL News Special with Jim Heavner.
“They put in a lot of oversight—how many independent projects are being done by a single person, the way that’s followed through in the department, the way that then goes from the department up to the dean,” Chancellor Folt says. “So there’s many, many checks and balances in place that are observed on a term-by-term basis and reported on with metrics to follow.”
She says the deans are taking responsibility of the necessary processes and that she’s getting good reports of the oversight.
However, she says—while the steps that are being taken are good for the University—they weren’t necessary in every area.
“Sometimes one really distressing, bad set of happenings become the poster child for the way the institution is working, and of course that was not the case,” Chancellor Folt says. “In most cases, the processes were safe; in most cases, people were doing all the oversight and management you could ever possibly want.”
She says it’s not always the case that every department needs to change when something like this, but that even more oversight is necessary to find the outlier who is taking advantage.
You can hear the interview in its entirety on WCHL Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
For part four of the interview, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/chancellor-folt-catching-up-on-post-afam-processes/
CHAPEL HILL – The NCAA tells North Carolina athletic officials that it isn’t considering additional charges connected to academic fraud in the university’s African studies department.
The school on Saturday released two emails from Sept. 26 after a records request.
The first is from UNC senior associate athletic director Vince Ille to NCAA associate director of enforcement Mike Zonder. Ille asked whether he correctly assumed the NCAA wasn’t planning additional investigation or charges of irregularities in the school’s African studies department. Zonder replied that “you are correct in your assessment.”
The NCAA sanctioned UNC for academic misconduct within its football program in March 2012.
The school said that August that the NCAA had reviewed irregularities including no-show classes and unauthorized grade changes in classes with significant athlete enrollments and found no rule violations.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/ncaa-finished-with-afam-investigation/
ORANGE COUNTY – Lately, all the focus has been on five indictments handed out on charges of breaking the Uniformed Athlete Agents Act (UAAA), but Orange and Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall says there are other ongoing investigations involving UNC.
“There is an ongoing investigation in the AFAM department,” Woodall says. “That’s been ongoing for a while.”
Former African and Afro-American Studies Department chair, Julius Nyang’oro was found to have conducted classes he didn’t actually teach. An external review of the department by former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin found that the problem dated back to 1997.
Woodall has not announced who he and the SBI have been investigating, but the question still lingers of whether Nyang’oro and other members of the AFAM department at UNC committed fraud by collecting paychecks from the University.
Wednesday, Georgia-based sports agent, Terry Watson had his first court appearance on 13 felony counts of breaking the UAAA with athlete-agent inducement and one court of obstruction of justice.
Last week, former UNC tutor, Jennifer Thompson appeared on four counts of athlete-agent inducement.
Woodall has said these five indictments are the first in the history of the UAAA that anyone can find. North Carolina adopted the law in 2003, and according to the NCAA website, as of 2010, 40 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands adhere to it. Three other states have non-UAAA laws in place to regulate agents.
Woodall says he can’t say for certain whether or not other states are likely to file similar charges.
“I think, because of what’s happened here, they’re certainly going to become more aware of this, and I think there are some states that know that we have information that we’d certainly share with them if they want to approach us about it,” Woodall says.
Wednesday the News and Observer published a story with the headline: ‘Orange DA adds staff to pursue sports agents…’
“That’s a very misleading headline,” Woodall says. “The DA’s office here has added no staff. I’m going to have a prosecutor who’s already been sworn in to work on this case; his name’s Mitch Gerrell—a longtime prosecutor from DurhamCounty. He’s going to be working on this case, but he’s not truly a member of my staff.”
Gerrell works for the North Carolina Conference of DAs as a special prosecutor to prosecute white-collar crimes. Woodall says his job is to assist DA offices in these types of cases and that’s just what he’ll be doing.
He says he’s also using the assistance of members of the Secretary of State’s office.
“There’s a statute that allows attorney’s from the Secretary of State’s office to be sworn in as assistant DAs to work on cases that the Secretary of State’s office has jurisdiction over,” Woodall says. “So, two of their attorneys are going to be sworn in as assistant district attorneys.”
He says while they will still be working for the Secretary of State’s office, they’ll work under the supervision of Woodall.
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall began this investigation three years ago since the UAAA states agents in North Carolina have to register with Marshall’s office. Woodall wasn’t brought into the investigation until about a year and a half later.
Now the waiting games continues for the remaining three indictments, and Woodall says it could still be a little while until we know who else is being charged.
“We’re waiting for other people to be served,” Woodall says. “That can be by them turning themselves in or them being served wherever they happen to be. I really don’t have a specific timeline on that; I think it will be over the next couple of weeks.”
For more on the charges against Terry Watson, click here.
For more on the charges against Jennifer Thompson, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/five-indictments-possibly-not-the-end/
CHAPEL HILL - Just one student out of the 46 current students who took fraudulent courses in UNC’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies has registered for a free make-up course since the option was made available in May, the director of Communications for the College of Arts and Sciences, Dee Reid says.
The make-up courses are part of a plan the University is implementing to protect the integrity of the school; after a review of the department by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, known as the “Special Committee,” determined that the courses were fraudulent. These courses are collectively known as “Type 1” courses, according to a report released by the University.
The report says the university notified the 46 students who are affected by the review. Students received two letters in the mail notifying them that they would not receive credit for the courses.
In addition to the letters, each student’s school account was put on hold until he or she met with an adviser to discuss options to make-up the fraudulent course. UNC’s website says a hold on a student account prevents students from registering for future classes. Additionally, students cannot receive a diploma or a transcript while their account is on hold.
One letter explicitly stated to students that they would not receive credit for the “Type 1” courses. It said, “The University has discovered that [course name] was not conducted appropriately and therefore will require an additional course to supplement the requirements for a baccalaureate degree.”
The report says students may choose to enroll in another course to make-up the lost credit hours. The expenses for these courses will be paid in full with private funds from the university, including enrollment costs, textbooks, and other materials.
The report says students have two other options as well. They may take a challenge exam to test their knowledge of the material taught in the fraudulent course. If they pass, they will receive credit for the course, and do not have to take a make-up class.
They may also submit their coursework from the fraudulent class for review by a committee educated in the course material. If the coursework is considered ample for credit, the students do not have to take the make-up course.
Only one student at UNC has chosen to take a make-up course, Reid says. It is unclear how many of the effected students have chosen the other two options.
Out of 384 students enrolled in “Type 1” courses, 80 of them had not completed graduation requirements when the university submitted its report to the Special Committee on March 15, 2013.
Those 80 students were assigned to 2 categories: “No Impact” and “Impact”. Students in the “No Impact’ category did not receive credit for the course. If they did receive credit, they obtained the 120 required hours for graduation without the course, or completed their undergraduate degree at another university.
The 46 students mentioned before, were placed in the “Impact” category. They will have to make up the lost credit. This includes not only students majoring in African American Studies; but also students who took the class to fulfill general education requirements
According to the report, UNC has verified that the students who took a “Type 1” course and graduated in or after May 2012 had fulfilled more than 120 credits required for graduation, and did not need the “Type 1” course to obtain the degree.
According the report, the Special Committee found fraudulent courses dating back to 1997. Because university policy states that transcripts are “frozen” one year after students graduate, the diploma’s of students who graduated before 2012 are not in question.
The report says UNC will provide an option for alumni to retake a class at the expense of the university if they feel deprived of any academic experience as a result of the review.
The expenses for these courses will also be covered with private funds from UNC. Participants will not receive a grade, there will be no affect on the former students’ GPA or hours; but, their participation will be noted on their transcript, the report says.
There has only been one inquiry from a former UNC student about these courses, Reid Says.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/students-alumni-not-taking-advantage-of-make-up-afam-classes/
CHAPEL HILL – UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp says if it was possible to narrow the investigation into the African and Afro-American Studies department down simply in regards to academics and athletics, it would center around two figures connected to the department’s administrative assistant, Debbie Crowder.
***Listen to Part V of the Interview***
“In terms of the athletics part, I think there’s been all this discussion about whether it was an athletics thing or it wasn’t an athletics thing,” Chancellor Thorp says. “Of course the athletes knew about this, and we have been transparent about the fact that Debbie Crowder is the long-time partner of Warren Martin. It was in the Martin Report—and in my opinion, maybe not acknowledged to the extent that it should have been—that Burgess McSwain, the long-time basketball tutor, was a close, close friend of Debbie Crowder. So, that provided the access to what was going on.”
The aftermath of the multiple investigations into the AFAM department—both internal and external—have left the University with a myriad of policies to try and make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again. However, Chancellor Thorp says he hopes it’s not too much.
“The only thing that worries me about the changes in oversight is whether its overkill and whether we’ll be able to sustain it,” Chancellor Thorp says. “So I think there’s no question that we’ve got lots of policies in place to catch this kind of thing. But I think more importantly in terms of the culture…is recognizing that this place isn’t perfect and things can happen here. This happened for 14 years, and lots of great, great people who served this university well were administrators during that time, and none of us caught this.”
These comments were made in a WCHL News Special end-of-term interview with Jim Heavner. The interview will be played in its entirety Saturday and Sunday.
To read about and hear part four, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/can-unc-maintain-new-policies-post-afam/
HILLSBOROUGH – Though February has come and gone, Orange and Chatham Counties’ District Attorney, Jim Woodall says he’s not ready to announce whether charges will be brought against anyone regarding the recent UNC academic scandal.
“I’m not going to give a timeline,” Woodall says. “I was hoping that we would announce any charges if there are going to be any by the end of February.”
Last May, he said he wanted to know if there was any academic fraud, financial fraud, computer fraud, forgery, or conspiracy to conceal any crimes in the African and Afro-American Studies Department. An external review by former Governor Jim Martin and consulting firm Baker Tilly confirmed that fraudulent classes were found within the department. It also found that the problem dated back to 1997 and that it was isolated to just two staff members.
Woodall says he got the final parts of the investigation from the SBI in early February, but that it’s an in depth process.
“There’s some more information that we’re looking at, some more documents that we’ve become aware of,” Woodall says. “When I say we, it’s the SBI and my office. I think that process is going to take just a little bit longer.
He says the idea behind waiting is that he wants to make sure there is one announcement about the case rather than changes along the way.
“What we want to do it, if—and again I emphasize if—if there are any charges, I want to announce all the charges at one time,” Woodall says. “I don’t want to come back weeks or months later with any additional charges. And that’s not to say that there are going to be any charges at all.”
Martin on AFAM: “This Is Not An Athletic Scandal…It’s Academic”
BoG Panel: Time To Move On From AFAM Scandal
UNC BoT Chair Says ‘Martin Report’ Confirmed Validity Of Internal Investigation