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/
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/
Although the deposed Julius Nyang’oro had been teaching at UNC for 20 years, during which time taking Swahili had become somewhat of an inside joke among athletes, the period about to go under the microscope of the SBI is the summer of 2007 through the end of 2009.
Coincidence, or precisely between when Butch Davis began coaching at Carolina and his program fell under investigation by the NCAA? The very first piece of this so-call academia was Marvin Austin’s “B” grade in an upper level course he took the summer before enrolling as a freshman at UNC in 2007.
Nyang’oro was supposed to have taught that course, but it is still unclear whether it was one of the 45 that the former department chair arbitrarily turned from accelerated summer lectures into, “There will be no classes, just come back at the end of the semester with a paper about a prominent black leader.”
Or some such non-sense.
Austin then enrolled as a full-time student. One of his first-semester courses in the fall of 2007 had the adjective “remedial” attached to it. From advanced to remedial in one easy lesson, which is that a number of unqualified “student-athletes” Davis signed should have been at lesser schools or junior college somewhere.
Austin, of course, was the centerpiece of Davis’ first freshman class, for which fired assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator John Blake took and got most of the credit. Austin had been highly sought around the country after a star high school career in Washington, D.C., but not by Carolina. Yet the smooth-talking Blake waltzed up there and bagged the big guy.
That turn of phrase reminds me how one former UNC assistant coach under Dick Crum cracked over the summer, “Hell, everyone knew Blake was the bag man.”
Anyway, enough of that.
After Blake signed up Austin, you can envision a parallel conversation going on between the Davis camp and Nyang’oro that went something like: “We’ve got this stud defensive tackle coming in and he’s going to play for us right away. We need to kick start his GPA so there is no chance of him being ineligible after his first season.”
Sounds like a summer school course from “Easy B” Nyang’oro was the answer.
With so many classes that were supposed to be lectures turning into “come back with a paper” capers, it’s easy to see how tutors like Jennifer Wiley were pressed into overtime duty. Of course, the most publicized of which was Michael McAdoo’s plagiarized piece that got him thrown off the field by the NCAA and kicked out of Superior Court after he filed suit to regain his eligibility.
The time frame of all this is so curious one has to wonder why the preceding football regimes at UNC only had passing knowledge of Nyang’oro and his department in the first place. One former UNC coach remembers watching a game on TV and seeing a player’s bio come up on the screen with the major “African Afro-American Studies.”
He said, “What the hell is that?”
Carolina grad and Orange/Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall has called on the SBI to investigate this era of Davis, who by the way UNC still owes $1.8 million in severance pay even though the Butcher has taken another job with the Tampa Bay Bucs. But not to coach, only advise.
Sure, let’s pay Davis the 1.8 mil and then ask him to cover Carolina’s legal fees in this last episode of the scandal that clearly crossed the line.
All former football coaches and players know that summer has been the time for getting/keeping kids eligible, all the way back to when I was in school. In my day, it was Portuguese and education classes taught by Dr. Unks and Dr. Lovingood to beef up your GPA. Now, it’s Swahili and a bunch of other “Easy B” courses where athletes seem to migrate.
But as Roy Williams said snippily a week or so ago, “They went to class and did the work that was assigned to them.” Maybe all the basketball players did, but apparently not all the athletes enrolled in Nyang’oro U.
African Afro-American Studies is, or was, a legitimate major at UNC in the College of Arts & Sciences. Chancellor Holden Thorp was the Dean of Arts & Sciences for the 2007-08 school year, when the big trouble was just brewing. The notion that Thorp’s job could be in jeopardy is ludicrous, since it was obviously a football-engineered scam that turned the department into a sham over the last four years.
The most recent annual salary for Nyang’oro, who is being forced into retirement as of July 1, was $159,000 plus a $12,000 stipend for chairing the department. He also made $12,000 a summer for courses he was supposed to be teaching. The News & Observer reported last week that Nyang’oro was paid $120,000 for summer school work during his tenure. Some of which was never actually done. Some of which was taught outside the course description. Some of which resulted in grades that were changed and faculty members’ names forged on the forms.
All to be untangled by Woodall and the SBI, which can find criminal fraud if any of the cheating was conducted on state property or equipment.
Let’s hope it happens quickly and the right people are held accountable.http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/nyango-who-u/