Earth to Art Chansky: It Wasn’t About the Women

Editor’s note: Art Chansky’s Sports Notebook on July 14th was about UNC Coach Sylvia Hatchell. Chansky followed with a longer Art’s Angle on the subject of Coach Hatchell on July 15th. The commentary below is from Mary Willingham and Jay Smith of, and was published to their blog on July 16th, but only in response to the July 14th Sports Notebook. On July 20th, Art Chansky shared his answer to their blog post in a Sports Notebook. Mary Willingham’s commentary can be heard on WCHL in an abbreviated version on July 21st. Below is the full version.

In a recent commentary on WCHL, ardent UNC sports fan Art Chansky revealed his strategy for combating the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations [NOA] against the university’s athletic program: Blame it on the women! Complaining of women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell’s (alleged) behind-the-scenes efforts to lobby for a contract extension comparable to the one recently offered men’s coach Roy Williams, Chansky griped that “an exit strategy should be [Hatchell’s’] play.” After all, Chansky claimed, “Hatchell’s program is in the most serious trouble from the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations,” given the high profile of women’s academic counselor Jan Boxill in the email documentation provided in the NCAA report. The whole NCAA investigation is a “witch hunt” with many victims, Chansky suggested, but the uncomfortable reality for women’s basketball is that “[Roy] Williams’ program was not cited in the NOA and Hatchell’s was.” Hatchell should therefore prepare herself to leave UNC “with grace.”

The propaganda purposes of this particular commentary are obvious even by Chansky’s standards. No team is “cited” in the NOA if by cited one means singled out for likely punishment. As a team and as a program, women’s basketball is cited in the NCAA document no more and no less than any other team or program. (The NCAA’s NOA did note, however, that the “special arrangements” used for eligibility purposes at UNC had particularly benefited “the sports of football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball.”) Chansky, in other words, is only continuing and amplifying the PR drumbeat that Roy Williams, Larry Fedora and others began some weeks ago, presumably at the urging of university lawyers. They have repeatedly announced that the big-time men’s revenue sports would seem to be in the clear and should expect no further punishment from the NCAA. They would have us believe that the NCAA is prepared to give football and men’s basketball a free pass even after the exposure of decades’ worth of fraud that clearly benefited the football and men’s basketball teams. And they are evidently all too happy to point the finger of blame in the direction of a women’s team in order to lower expectations about the sanctions likely to be imposed on the men’s teams.

Leaving aside the gender politics of this shameless PR strategy–will advocates for women’s sports stand by while male coaches, boosters, and UNC insiders labor to persuade the NCAA that the Crowder-Nyang’oro scheme was merely a big plot to help women?–Chansky and company face one very high hurdle in pursuit of their propaganda campaign. A mountain of direct and circumstantial evidence makes clear that UNC’s distinctive pattern of academic fraud was developed specifically to meet the needs of the men’s basketball team, and that the corruption reached its highest levels on Roy Williams’s watch. The first suspect independent study courses offered by Julius Nyang’oro in the late 1980s were offered to men’s basketball players, some of whom had abysmal SAT scores and perilously low GPA’s before they met professor Nyang’oro. Faculty friends in geography, French, and the school of education had been very helpful to the team throughout the 1980s. But when leadership of the AFRI/AFAM department fell into the laps of two allies of men’s basketball around 1990–Nyang’oro and his assistant Debby Crowder, whose close friend Burgess McSwain served as academic counselor for the men in her remote Smith center office–that department quickly became the go-to academic center for struggling (or academically uninterested) men’s basketball players. The fraud would morph into a multi-team and three thousand-student debacle before all was said and done, but men’s basketball was always first in line for favors and fake classes. The needs of men’s basketball always came first in the eyes of Debby Crowder. And the 2005 men’s team, whose roster was stocked with players for whom both McSwain and Crowder felt great sympathy, benefited from unprecedented levels of favoritism. The team as a whole took well over one hundred paper classes; as one would expect, the starters on that team benefited disproportionately from the scam. Star forward Rashad McCants has had the guts to admit this publicly and to show the evidence of the fraud in his own student transcript. His teammates, though quick to denounce him, have kept their transcripts hidden. It is unlikely that anyone else from that team–Sean May, Raymond Felton, Jawad Williams, Marvin Williams, Reyshawn Terry, Jesse Holley, etc.–will ever step forward with transcripts in hand to have a frank conversation about their classroom experiences. But the truth is in those transcripts.

Chansky, Williams, and the friends of men’s basketball would have the world believe that twenty years of bogus class scheduling was done without the knowledge of anyone actually connected to the men’s basketball program. Coaches (who are paid millions to know everything) supposedly knew nothing. The only academic counselor who was knowingly, inexcusably corrupt, they say, was philosophy instructor Jan Boxill, counselor for the women’s basketball team. This “powerful” figure, they say, corrupted women’s basketball of her own volition. Thankfully, all other counselors were innocent–even if it is unfortunate that they failed to detect the shenanigans of Crowder and Boxill.

The layers of absurdity in this line of argument become hard to distinguish. One might start, however, with the simple fact that Jan Boxill, whatever her flaws, was far more vulnerable than powerful. She was an untenured instructor whose employment at UNC was always partially contingent on her services to the athletic program. She was a highly valuable cog in the machine because of her go-between status and her ability to negotiate academic protocols for counselors who were physically segregated from the main arteries of the campus. But her great value also increased her vulnerability. She was pressured constantly by other personnel in the Academic Support Program to call in favors, to make phone calls, to ask for benefits that were “needed” by athletes with low GPA’s, travel commitments, or other handicaps.

Among the people who leaned heavily on Jan Boxill were the counselors for men’s basketball–first McSwain and then Wayne Walden, Roy Williams’s handpicked deputy who followed him to Chapel Hill from Kansas in 2003. When Roy Williams touts Walden’s ethics, he is not just blowing smoke. Walden was a decent guy who worked within a system that had been built long before he arrived. (Where is he now? Why won’t he and the other counselors step forward to tell their stories?) Walden had a conscience, and he was not happy to have to resort to “paper classes” and wink-wink independent studies courses to help keep certain players afloat. But he also knew what had to be done when push came to shove. Mary Willingham and Wayne Walden spent countless hours together in the old east end zone building talking about how difficult it was to keep challenged players eligible, and how much harder it was to navigate the UNC curriculum in comparison to the Kansas curriculum. (Thank the heavens for Debby Crowder and the few friendly faculty out there…) The course selection process they managed was never about offering players a world-class education; Willingham and Walden worked together–quite often with Boxill’s help, even more often with Crowder’s help–to keep basketball players eligible and in school. They were quite good at it, though Walden was constantly worried about getting Jan or Debby in trouble by asking for favors that would raise red flags. (One reason Boxill had so many emails to be plundered by Kenneth Wainstein and the NCAA: she worked in an office in Caldwell Hall, distant from the ASPSA. Deals, trouble-shooting, and schedule-engineering that were done face-to-face in the ASPSA had to be done through email whenever Boxill was involved. Conveniently for certain other key players in the drama, Boxill’s email was on the main UNC server rather than on the athletic server; her emails could not be expunged.)

Roy Williams has tried to take credit for steering players away from AFAM in 2006-7 (even as he disavows any knowledge of funny business in that department.) But the fact is, the transcripts of the 2009 national championship men’s team look different–with some but far fewer paper classes–only because a new fear of getting caught had set in around 2006. Remember the Auburn scandal and the panic it seems to have caused among ASPSA officials, the Faculty Athletics Committee, and Dean Bobbi Owen (who decreed that the numbers of AFAM independent studies had to be sharply reduced)? The upshot of the Auburn scandal, in the UNC men’s basketball program, was a new caution about cheating. The large-scale, team-wide stuff had to end. Paper classes, Walden decided, should be used only for the athletes who desperately needed them – such as the one guy who “couldn’t read very well.” That particular player, whose needs forged a particularly close relationship between Walden and Willingham (a reading specialist), took between ten and twelve paper classes. That figure–compiled in the years after Roy Williams claims that he cleaned up the basketball program–is significantly higher than the number of paper classes ever taken by ANY women’s basketball player. The number of AFAM majors on the men’s basketball team may have dropped off after 2005, but the need for paper classes remained (for both current and former players), and men’s basketball stayed at the front of the line at least through 2008.

Art Chansky and company are desperately trying to persuade the NCAA and the public at large that UNC’s course fraud scam was all about helping the women’s basketball team. Chansky urges Sylvia Hatchell to play sacrificial lamb for a UNC athletic department that benefited broadly and egregiously from academic fraud that unfolded over twenty years. The NCAA has all the emails, with all the unredacted names, and so one can assume that the Committee on Infractions will be able to hold up against the propaganda winds. But regardless of what the NCAA does or does not do, people of good conscience in and around UNC must not allow the dreams of Chansky, Williams, and Fedora to come true. Collective amnesia is not an option in Chapel Hill. Owning the reality of the scandal is important because only after accepting the true dynamic of the academic-athletic scandal–only after Tar Heels have come to terms with the fact that our love of men’s basketball and our passionate commitment to winning fostered an uncontrollably corrupt academic environment here–will the institution be able to move on with open eyes, a clean conscience, and a healthy plan for the future.

Chansky asks Hatchell to leave with “grace.” But grace has never been about willful blindness, nor should it be about taking one for the team. “Was blind but now I see,” goes the beloved lyric. Those touched by grace are not asked to go into exile; they are reconciled to a higher power and beckoned to a welcoming place (“grace will lead me home.”). Asking Sylvia Hatchell to go away is not the answer to UNC’s disgrace. The institution should instead be asking for its own gift of grace—the gift of clear-sighted reconciliation with the sins of its past.

Art’s Angle: Hatchell Should Go Gracefully

Hiring Sylvia Crawley as an assistant coach is the right play for Sylvia Hatchell. Getting her friends and colleagues in the university to lobby for an extension to her contract is the wrong play.

Crawley, a star player and captain of the 1994 Tar Heels, will be seen by many people as Hatchell’s successor after she resigns following the 2016 season or is fired. Hatchell cannot survive as the Carolina coach for reasons that go beyond her program’s complicity in the NCAA allegations.

That first. Her support group calling women’s basketball a “sacrificial lamb” is ill-advised, some would say stupid. Anyone who reads the Notice of Allegations can see where Hatchell’s program is cited through the actions of former academic advisor Jan Boxill, the long-respected faculty member who was fired for her role in the AFAM scandal. Beyond the substantial fine the university will receive for a “lack of institutional control,” women’s basketball is the sport most likely to be penalized. One of the five allegations is entirely devoted to emails between Boxill and the AFAM department.  If so, Hatchell will be held accountable as the CEO of the program.

Just as Butch Davis was fired for, among other things, violating his contract by hiring a coach (John Blake) who broke NCAA rules. UNC firing Davis “without cause” and paying him the balance of his contract worth between $11 and 12 million seemed foolish, but the university did not want to invest the time and legal fees to defend a prolonged lawsuit that Davis surely would have filed. Any Carolina coach whose program breaks NCAA rules, including Roy Williams, should be and would be fired.

Second, the collateral damage from the NCAA probe that has injured almost every Tar Heel sports team in recruiting has just about killed women’s hoops. Hatchell has lost the No. 1 recruiting class of 2013 — from Diamond DeShields transferring to Tennessee after her All-ACC freshman season to Jessica Washington, Allisha Gray and Stephanie Mavunga leaving this summer. Only Gray acknowledged that the stigma of the NCAA investigation caused her departure, but surely Washington and Mavunga feel the same way. These women worry that their association with a tainted team will hurt their professional careers, in and out of basketball, moving forward.

Clearly, Hatchell’s program has become fatally flawed and a change must be made to start over. Hatchell is a Hall of Fame coach who has won a national championship (1994) and more than 900 games. She also won her courageous battle against Leukemia that kept her off the bench during the 2014 season. She has been a great representative of the university until the NCAA revelations that have divided the campus and caused fractures in the athletic department itself.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham must negotiate an athletic program, 98 percent of which still operates and succeeds at the highest level, through the awful hand he was dealt when he took over for Dick Baddour in November of 2011. Aware he was inheriting the three-year probation in football for impermissible benefits during the Davis era, Cunningham said recently that he had not heard the acronym “AFAM” until a few months into his job.

The Rams Club continues to raise money at record levels, proving an angry alumni and fan base has not deserted the program, but by charter can only pay for scholarships and capital improvements. Cunningham is stuck with about an $80 million operating budget with most of its revenue streams maxed out. Sure, UNC gets an occasional windfall from additional post-season payouts from the ACC, but not enough to increase salaries and recruiting budgets for all but two of UNC’s 28 sports that do not make money.

When revenues are flat, expenses need to be cut. Cunningham and UNC are committed, for now, to a broad-based program driven by participation for as many varsity athletes as possible. But that will have to change one day. Current Title IX guidelines dictate any sport cut will be on the men’s side, and Cunningham has an opportunity to start by dropping the struggling wrestling program after he recently fired veteran coach and former Tar Heel All-American C.D. Mock. Wrestling gives out all 9.9 scholarships allowed by the NCAA, so that could save some money for the Rams Club. Also, coaches’ salaries and recruiting and travel costs would be eliminated from Bubba’s budget. Wrestling could still be offered as a club sport, where UNC’s program is among the biggest and most successful in the country.

Women’s basketball loses more money than any sport at Carolina. Hatchell earns about a million dollars from her state salary, stipends and her successful summer camp. The team draws sparse crowds to revamped Carmichael Arena, employs eight assistant coaches or support personnel and has significant recruiting and travel budgets. UNC has a “cost per athlete” metric computed by revenues versus  expenses divided by the number of players on a team. While losing about $2.5 million a year, Hatchell’s program has the highest cost-per-athlete of all women sports and one of the highest of all 28 teams.

Surely, UNC can play competitive women’s basketball for half the cost. The money saved could be spread across all other women’s sports, increasing subpar coaching salaries and recruiting budgets in most of them. It is truly amazing that Carolina athletics continues to finish high in the Learfield Director’s Cup (fifth in 2014-15) with an operating budget far behind schools like Stanford, Ohio State and Texas.

Changes are on the way. They need to include women’s basketball where, after one season as Hatchell’s well-traveled and accomplished assistant, Crawley becomes the new face of the program. She has already held three head-coaching positions and is respected in the profession. Her charge would be to rebuild the Lady Tar Heels for less than what it has cost UNC, monetarily and otherwise, under Hatchell.

Fraud Charge Against Nyang’oro Dropped

A prosecutor says he has dismissed a felony fraud charge against a former North Carolina professor linked to a scandal involving academics and athletics.

In a statement Thursday, Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall said he dropped the charge after Julius Nyang’oro cooperated with the criminal investigation and an independent probe into fraud in the department where Nyang’oro served as chairman.

A grand jury indicted Nyang’oro in December for obtaining property by false pretenses. He was charged with receiving $12,000 to teach a summer 2011 lecture class that did not meet. The class, filled with football players, was treated as an independent study requiring a research paper.

Former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein is leading the independent probe into the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department.

UNC’s Academic Scandal Oversight

Professor emerita of Slavic literature at UNC, Madeline Levine says the only way Julius Nyang’oro could have been caught cheating the system was if his colleagues or students reported the wrongdoings.

“Unless a chair’s colleagues comes forward with complaints, there is no way that a dean at any level will know that something is wrong—well, colleagues and students,” Levine says.

She says a certain level of trust has to be involved.

“If you approach your colleagues and faculty as if everybody is a potential scoundrel, how could you possibly run a university?” Levine asks. “How could you run a business if you thought all of your employees were potential scoundrels?”

Last week, UNC learning specialist Bradley Bethel said the deans of the College of Arts and Science should have been more involved in the review of Nyang’oro’s teaching and should have seen the signs. Levine served as interim dean during the 2006-07 school year when Nyang’oro was reappointed as chair of the African and Afro-American Studies Department.

Levine says Bethel’s thoughts are off base.

“He has no idea how a university works on the faculty side, and he clearly has not idea how the administration of the college works,” Levine says. “He mentions that he came from a K-12 background, which is great. But, he taught at a middle school at some point that probably had fewer students in it than the College of Arts and Sciences has faculty members who have to be overseen. So, to indicate that when he was in the K-12 system, classes were overseen by a head and the supervisor, and that was done all the time, and then to suggest that that should be done at the university level is totally to misunderstand the scale, the size, and what is done at a university where professionalism is supposed to reign.”

She adds that the steps that have been taken to increase oversight and the potential of adding additional oversight are unnecessary.

“Perhaps the decision to have people peek in and check that classes meet was a matter of desperation and to show the public that we take things seriously,” Levine says. “I doubt that during the peeping in through the doorway glass produced anything that would show that there is a problem at UNC with faculty not teaching.”

Nyang’oro’s term as AFAM chair concluded in academic year 2006-07, and a new chair needed to be selected. Arne Kalleberg was the Senior Associated Dean for Social Sciences and International Programs from 2004 to 2007. It was his job to review Nyang’oro’s work as chair by talking with faculty within the department.

Levine says all professors have their teaching and research reviewed, including post-tenure reviews, but Nyang’oro’s reappointment would not have included a performance review other than of his management of the department.

“There are all sorts of layers of review of teaching ability, review of research productivity, and so on that go on throughout the years,” Levine says. “There are post-tenure reviews, too. But, they can’t be conflated with the review of chairs as administrators.”

Kalleberg is currently in England and said in an email that he couldn’t be reached by phone. However, he confirmed what Levine says that the review did not cover research or teaching performance and that he wasn’t expected to submit any information.

He said his review was made up of interviews with faculty members assessing their satisfaction with Nyang’oro’s managerial performance as well as suggestions for who would be a good chair.

Kalleberg’s recommendation was passed on to Levine to make the final decision. He said he was convinced that Nyang’oro was the best person to hold the chair position for another term, which he said the department supported in the interviews.

The Chronicle of Higher Education posted a story on January 6 that includes a statement from UNC Department of Political Science Chair Evelyn Huber saying AFAM faculty members told her they had been unhappy with Nyang’oro’s leadership for a long time. She said she was told he acted like a dictator, not involving others in the department’s decision making. Huber was named interim chair of the AFAM department in 2011 after Nyang’oro resigned.

Huber told WCHL that she doesn’t want to comment further on what was said in 2011 versus 2006. She says the Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies (formerly AFAM) has a strong chair now in Eunice Sahle and that her colleagues want to move beyond the tainted past.

Levine says she continues to believe that athletics have played some role in the academic scandal at UNC, despite Jim Martin’s review. The former North Carolina governor reported that the incident only involved the AFAM department chair and his department administrator Deborah Crowder.

“If there was one rogue professor, why? For what reason?,” Levine asks. “What are the connections with athletics? It’s nonsense, I think, to say this is solely failure to academic oversight and that it doesn’t involve the department of athletics.”

Levine says she was recently interviewed as part of the Kenneth Waintstein investigation. She says she believes she was on the phone with Wainstein along with his associate Joseph Jay.

Wainstein is an attorney and the former Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. He is currently investigating UNC and has been instructed to go where the evidence leads him and uncover anything there is to uncover.

Levine says she wasn’t asked by Wainstein or Jay about the reappointment of Nyang’oro as chair in the 2006-07 academic year when she was interim dean.

Willingham Blasts NCAA For Academic Improprieties

CHAPEL HILL – UNC clinical instructor and academic advisor, Mary Willingham said the academic problems at Carolina and at colleges and universities across the country start with the NCAA. 

“This NCAA cartel machine is doing us wrong in this country and doing our young people some damage,” Willingham said. “Meanwhile, these folks are in Indiannoplis—and around the country, coaches and administrators—are making tons of money off the backs of these young people, and it’s got to stop.”

Those comments were made during an interview Friday on the WCHL Morning News.

***Watch the Full Interview***

***Correction from the interview: The IRB is the Institutional Review Board, not the Internal Review Board.

She said the admission of guilt by the university, and namely UNC Provost Jim Dean, that there were holes in the academic system is not enough.

“I really encourage (Provost Dean) to talk to us about what we know—Jay and I and others in the Athletic Reform Group—and open the door and have a real open conversation, because that has yet to happen at our university,” Willingham said. “It’s a university for crying out loud. We should all be able to sit around the room and have honest conversation and debate about what we know.”

Provost Dean was quoted in a Bloomberg Business Week article saying “We made mistakes. Horrible things happened that I’m ashamed of. Student-athletes and other students, too, were hurt. The integrity of our university was badly damaged.”

History professor Jay Smith was in the interview as well and announced that he—in collaboration with Willingham—is writing a book that talks about the history of the academic scandal at UNC in the African and Afro-American studies department and the illiteracy problems at UNC and at colleges and universities across the nation.

Smith said he, too, wants to see something more than just words come from the recent allegations of UNC’s academic improprieties.

“There’s nothing qualitatively different from any number of statements Holden Thorp made over the past several years before he left,” Smith said. “Holden, too, was willing to acknowledge mistakes had been made and that we had to be held accountable for them. Though, at least it does, on their part, signal a new willingness to look at the past and consider which lessons need to be derived from the past. So that’s…that is somewhat heartening.”

Willingham has been seen by many as an enemy to the university when she shared her research. She received death threats and was even called a liar by Provost Dean when he said in a Business Week article “she’s said that our students can’t read, our athletes can’t read, and that’s a lie.” Later in the interview for the article with Business Week’s Paul Barrett, the Provost said he had misspoken and doesn’t think that she’s a liar.

Willingham said she didn’t release the information with the intention of taking down the university.

“I really am a Tar Heel,” Willingham said. “I know what’s heard to believe, but I love this place.”

She said she wants to see a change in the way student-athletes are taken care of at the university and how they are viewed within the system.

“We had a countless number of athletes that I worked with during my tenure—nearly seven years—in the program that left without a real degree,” Willingham said. “We still don’t talk about those guys. They took all these bogus paper classes, and they left the university still woefully underprepared for probably even a high school. That’s wrong, and we owe them. We need to bring them back, and we need to offer them the possibility of a real, legitimate education. That’s what we promised them in the first place.”

She said that she’s not even saying that students who can’t read at a college level don’t have a place at UNC, but that those who are at a disadvantage need to be protected.

“I’ve never said that athletes or any students at Carolina don’t belong at Carolina,” Willingham said. “It’s a public university; it’s a university of the people. But I think if we’re going to take students in, then we need to meet them where they’re at academically and bring them along. That’s all students.”

“I think we still have this, some sort of arrogance or some level of problem—I don’t know exactly where it comes from—because in 1795 we had an academy at the University of North Carolina for young men from the state who weren’t able to read in Greek and Latin,” Willingham said. “That academy lasted for a decade or a little bit more. Why don’t we just reopen the academy, and we could have the best football team and the best basketball team in the country. We could recruit whoever we wanted, and we could provide a real education.”

Thursday evening the News and Observer shared a letter that former interim dean of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences and current Kenan Professor Emerita of Slavic Literatures, Madeline Levine wrote to Chancellor Carol Folt and Provost Jim Dean expressing her disappointment in the attack of the information shared by Willingham.

In the letter, she said she, too, saw evidence of students that’s were just pushed through the system and weren’t given a proper education.

Willingham said she expects this is just the first of many to follow in her push for academic reform.

“I have more than 2,000 emails,” Willingham said. “I’m hearing from people all over the country. They’re embarrassed; they feel some shame, because they don’t want to speak publically, and I’m certainly not going to bring anyone under the bus with me, because it’s not too pretty under here. But, nevertheless, I think that coming out and talking openly has given some people permission, and I think you’re going to hear from more people. I don’t think Dr. Levine’s going to be the only one stepping forward.”

Folt: UNC Responsible For Phony Classes, But “Getting It Right”

CHAPEL HILL – At a meeting of the Board of Trustees Thursday, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said the University accepts responsibility for past misdeeds regarding academic oversight.

But she also said she supports UNC’s current course of action to ensure those misdeeds don’t recur in the future.

“We’re saying very directly that we understand it, we accept responsibility for it, (but) at the same time, we’re putting in immense effort to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she told reporters.

Among other things, “it” refers to the anomalous and phony classes offered during a period of more than a decade in the African and Afro-American Studies Department (AFAM). Former department chair Julius Nyang’oro has already been indicted in connection with those classes; District Attorney Jim Woodall says more indictments may be yet to come.

It’s still an open question whether those courses were created solely to provide athletes with an easy grade to maintain their eligibility. UNC has avoided additional NCAA sanctions because there’s no direct evidence of that being the case—but Folt said either way, the problem was larger than that.

“Although we don’t have evidence that the anomalous courses were initiated in order to benefit athletes, close to half who did enroll were student-athletes,” she said. “(But) many students were involved in those courses, (and) all of those students who were involved in those courses deserved better from us.”

Afterwards, speaking to reporters, Folt went even further.

“Courses that have no faculty oversight – that’s a real betrayal of our commitment to our students,” she said.

And she said that betrayal was the result of a long-term “failure in academic oversight.”

“This too was wrong,” she said, “and it has undermined our integrity and our reputation – and it’s created a very unhealthy atmosphere of distrust.”

That “atmosphere of distrust,” of course, came to the surface in the last few weeks—in the emotional response to academic advisor Mary Willingham’s assertion that many UNC athletes read below an eighth-grade level and that officials in the academic support center turned a blind eye to evidence of phony classes and plagiarism.

High-ranking UNC officials—including Folt—spoke out vehemently against Willingham at a faculty council meeting last week; Provost Jim Dean called her research “a travesty.” But the attacks also got personal as well: Willingham says she even received death threats after going public with her concerns earlier this month.

In response to that, Folt sent an email to the campus community this week calling for civility—a call she reiterated on Thursday.

“This type of dialogue is essential to a University community,” she said. “But whether we’re going to agree or disagree, we have to really make this a healthy debate. We have to welcome it. And we have to respect each other in this debate, and do it in ways that show the true character of our Carolina community.”

But while she discussed the AFAM scandal in more detail, Folt had little to say about Willingham’s charges, which have occupied the more recent headlines.

“We have an external panel coming forward,” she told reporters, “and we’ll talk to you about it when that’s complete.”

Still, Folt did insist that Willingham was still welcome at Carolina.

“She absolutely is continuing her work,” she said. “The studies you’ve read have not been part of her job here.”

The central message of Thursday’s meeting, though, was that UNC officials—and the Board of Trustees—support what the University is doing now to address the ongoing issues surrounding academics and athletics. That includes a working group led by Provost Jim Dean and Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham.

“Our Board expectation is straightforward,” said Board Chair Lowry Caudill. “We want to compete academically and athletically at the highest levels with utmost integrity. We are pleased that our improvements over the past several years, and our current efforts, are leading to a sustainable approach.”

Speaking after the meeting, Chancellor Folt agreed.

“There isn’t a faculty member, or a staff member, or (anyone) that’s a part of this that don’t want to get it right,” she said.

Nyang’oro’s Story To Be Told In Court Soon

NEW YORK – Since news broke that African and Afro-American Studies Department Chair Julius Nyang’oro was holding fraudulent classes at UNC, everyone has wanted to hear his side of the story, but he’s been silent.

On January 7, Nyang’oro will be back in court after his first appearance in which he was also silent–not even entering a plea.

Sarah Lyall is a writer-at-large at the New York Times. On New Year’s Eve, she wrote an article ‘A’s for Athletes, but Charges of Fraud at North Carolina‘ in which she revisited the topic of AFAM and Nyang’oro.

Thursday on the WCHL Morning News, Lyall spoke with WCHL’s Ran Northam about the article and the case itself.

***Listen to the Interview***

Former UNC AFAM Chair Indicted By OC Grand Jury

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.

Chancellor Folt Catching Up On Post-AFAM Processes

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.

NCAA Finished With AFAM Investigation

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.