Bradley Bethel’s “Unverified” Premieres

Unverified, the documentary made by former UNC learning specialist Bradley Bethel, shows another side the academic scandal that has rocked the campus for years now. It played Friday night at the Varsity Theater.

“I wanted to set the record straight,” he said. “I was really outraged by the narrative that was out there that wasn’t true, that was so skewed and that good people got hurt.”

The movie is narrated by and features Bethel, who stepped down from his position to make the film and his co-workers, athletic tutors Beth Bridger and Jaimie Lee.

Bradley Bethel

Bradley Bethel’s film ‘Unverified’ is set to premiere on Jan. 8.

After the Wainstein report was released in October 2014, Bridger and Lee were fired. Bethel said he thought his colleagues were treated unfairly by the university, which was one of the major reasons he decided to make the documentary.

“This was not athletics corruption, this was not athletics or anyone associated with athletics violating particular rules,” he said. “This was a failing on the academic side of campus.”

Many prominent figures appear in the film, including former head football coach Butch Davis, former football player Dre Bly, former chancellor James Moeser.

Former basketball assistant coach Joe Holladay said he got involved with the film help one of his co-workers.

“I don’t think the Wainstein report told the whole story,” Holladay said. “In particular, from my point of view since I was in basketball, I wanted to stick up for Wayne Walden, plus our other academic counselors, but I knew Wayne so well and had worked with him 20 years.”

Walden worked as an academic adviser under Roy Williams for 15 years at Kansas and six years at UNC. Walden left UNC in 2009, but his name was mentioned in the Wainstein report.

“A lot of people who are in the middle will see the other side of the story,” Holladay said. “I don’t think you’re ever going to change people from certain schools or some people who are looking at us who love this (scandal), you’ll never change their minds, but I think it will help a lot of people associated with UNC to feel better about it.”

Bethel said he hopes people who see the documentary start to see the scandal in a different light.

“I don’t think the university or the media or Wainstein are going to apologize to anybody,” he said. “But people’s stories got to be told.”

According to the Unverified Kickstarter page, there will be showings of the movie again in Chapel Hill on January 11 and 12.

To read Art Chansky’s review of the movie, click here.

Are UNC Athletes Prepared For Life After Sports?

From multiple NCAA investigations to last year’s Wainstein Report, UNC athletics has been under fire for years, charged with failing to take academics seriously. The scandal has many facets – including the so-called “paper” classes that professors never graded; the tutors who reportedly suggested grades to keep athletes eligible; and Mary Willingham’s charge that many UNC athletes couldn’t read beyond an eighth-grade level. Even now, faculty members are still raising concerns about “special admits,” or the practice (common to many universities) of admitting student-athletes whose academic records otherwise wouldn’t qualify them for Carolina.

But of course the juiciest bits of the scandal give us only one side of a complex, nuanced story. What actually is the life of a UNC student-athlete? What are the challenges, the advantages, the constraints? What resources are available to help? Does UNC really care about academics in athletics? At the end of the day, do student-athletes still receive a quality education at Carolina? Is the University setting them up to succeed in life after college and after sports?

Mike Ingersoll is a 2010 UNC grad and a four-year member of the Tar Heel football team; he was recruited by John Bunting and played under Butch Davis, starting for two years at right tackle. After a short professional career, he’s returned to UNC, where he’s now a second-year law student.

Ingersoll says – contrary to popular belief – that UNC really did care about academics, even before any violations were uncovered, and that all the recent reforms have made the situation even better. He also says the University does a fine job preparing student-athletes for lives and careers beyond professional sports.

Mike Ingersoll shared his story this week with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.

UNC Self-Reports Additional Potential NCAA Violations

UNC announced it has self-reported additional potential infractions to the NCAA.

The next chapter in the seemingly never-ending scandal at Carolina was unfurled on Friday with UNC announcing new potential violations were submitted to the NCAA regarding improper academic assistance with women’s basketball and the finding of possible recruiting violations with the men’s soccer program.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham spoke to the media on Friday, saying the ball is now in the NCAA’s court to review the submissions.

“We share the confidence, with the NCAA,” he says, “that this additional review can be concluded quickly – and within 60 days – to bring closure to the investigation.”

That means that the response from UNC to the NCAA regarding the Notice of Allegations that was issued in May, which was scheduled to be sent on Tuesday of next week, will be delayed until the conclusion of the NCAA’s review of the new material.

“I’m still hopeful that we can get through this portion of the investigation, receive the amended notice – if that is what is required – and still bring this to closure by the spring of [2016],” he says. “Intermediate dates, or even that date, are highly speculative. But that’s what I’m hopeful that we can achieve.”

Cunningham says the potential infractions with women’s basketball are consistent with what was put forward in the Notice of Allegations regarding impermissible academic assistance being given through Dr. Jan Boxill, who was the academic advisor for the Tar Heel women’s basketball team.

Cunningham says the new material was found while going through nearly six million files in preparation for the response to the Notice of Allegations. He did say he feels officials have gotten to the end of the most pertinent information; meaning new accusations are less likely to develop.

On the other hand, the new submissions from men’s soccer are unrelated to the Wainstein Report and the Notice of Allegations. Cunningham says the new revelations came about after the coaches took a compliance test.

“One of our coaches got a question wrong and came to get clarity on it,” he says. “We realized that the coaches misunderstood the rule and created some violations. And we immediately turned that in.

“So I feel reasonably good that the system somewhat worked.”

But Cunningham says this is still a negative mark overall.

“I’m very disappointed in the timing,” he says. “I’m very disappointed in the impact it’s going to have on the institution, on the program, and how it delays where we were.

“But I’m proud of the fact that people own the mistakes when it happens.”

The university continues to tout the 70-plus reforms that have been implemented to ensure the academic scandal that dates back to the 1990’s does not happen again.

Cunningham says he’s confident the review will be completed in the next two months. If the NCAA decides to amend the Notice of Allegations, Carolina would then have another full 90 days to formulate and submit its renewed response.

Cunningham adds he is frustrated by the process and knows that fans are, but points out this is the “Carolina culture” to want to know what happened, understand it, and fix it.

“We have been open. We have been transparent. We have followed all of these various processes,” he says. “Each time we did a different review, it wasn’t thought to be thorough enough, or long enough, or deep enough. And we felt that Ken Wainstein and his group created that sense of closure.

“But as you review all of those additional documents, some things do pop up that require a view through an NCAA lens.”

Listen to the full press conference with Bubba Cunningham here:


UNC men’s soccer coach Carlos Somoano released the following statement regarding the accusations facing his staff:

“We strive to run a program that abides by all University and NCAA regulations. However, our coaching staff unknowingly made a mistake and I immediately notified our compliance office.

“I would like to discuss specifics of the alleged violations but I am bound by confidentiality rules that apply during an active NCAA investigation. My staff and I will cooperate completely with the University and the NCAA. I can say that the investigation does not affect our current or former players on the men’s soccer team.”

You can read the full statement from UNC below:

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has notified the NCAA’s enforcement staff that, in the course of responding to the NCAA’s notice of allegations of May 20, 2015, it identified two new pieces of information potentially requiring further review. The University is fully cooperating with the NCAA and working within the NCAA’s processes to bring closure to the investigation as soon as possible.

First, while preparing for public release of a series of emails from the independent investigation conducted by Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, the University found additional examples of possible instances of improper academic assistance provided to a few former women’s basketball players, directly related to allegation number two in the May 20, 2015, notice of allegations.

“We identified this new information as part of our due diligence in preparing our response to the notice of allegations and materials for public release,” said Director of Athletics Lawrence R. (Bubba) Cunningham. “Consistent with NCAA process, we promptly notified the NCAA’s enforcement staff. We continue to work cooperatively and expeditiously with the enforcement staff to complete our review, and we are confident this can be done quickly to allow the NCAA to bring closure to the investigation.

“There is no question this has been a long and challenging process, and it is one we are committed to finishing as we started – by cooperating fully with the NCAA, adhering to obligations under the NCAA’s rules, and working tirelessly to secure a fair and just outcome for Carolina.”

The second piece of new information involves potential recruiting violations in the men’s soccer program that allegedly occurred over the past two years. While these potential violations are completely unrelated to the allegations in the NCAA’s current notice of allegations, the University is obligated to report this new information and did so as soon as athletics compliance staff became aware of the information. NCAA infractions procedures require that if this new information is deemed to be a Level I or Level II violation, the existing notice of allegations must be amended to include it even though they are unrelated to the prior allegations.

Said Cunningham, “The information we self-reported to the NCAA regarding our men’s soccer program does not meet the high expectations of conduct that I have set for Carolina’s coaches and our entire athletics program. We expect excellence in everything we do, including NCAA compliance, and we will accept nothing less. We will continue to work closely with the NCAA to investigate this matter and avoid unnecessary delays. While this development is very disappointing, it is important to recognize that our athletics compliance procedures detected the potential violations and our coaching staff came forward to report them.”

The University reported the new information to the NCAA Committee on Infractions on Aug. 10 as required by the NCAA infractions program. The University shares the NCAA’s confidence that the additional review to address both issues can be concluded quickly – within 60 days – to bring closure to this investigation. Upon receiving the results of the review, the NCAA enforcement staff will decide whether its current notice of allegations needs to be amended. Under these circumstances, the University will delay submitting its response to the current notice on the original Aug. 18 due date, consistent with NCAA procedures. The NCAA will set a new response date following the supplemental review of the new information.

“I know today’s announcement will cause some to ask when all of this will end,” Cunningham said. “I want to assure everyone that Carolina is doing all it can to bring these matters to closure as quickly as possible while also strictly adhering to the NCAA’s infractions process. While we need to address these new developments, we have already completed the majority of the work necessary to respond to the NCAA’s notice. We fully believe that we will be able to bring the investigation to a conclusion in spring 2016, as previously anticipated.”

After the University submits its response to the NCAA Notice of Allegations, it also will be posted on the Carolina Commitment website. The University can only comment about NCAA process and policies; it cannot comment on the substance of the case until its completion.

Wainstein Report Confirms Academic Scandal

Former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein has released the results of his eight-month investigation of academic/athletic irregularities at UNC, confirming many of the findings of an earlier study by former governor Jim Martin – but also implicating some academic advisors in UNC’s Office of Academic Advising.

Below is the full statement from UNC. You can read the entire report from Wainstein and his team here:


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today announced the results of an independent investigation conducted by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein into past academic irregularities at Carolina and took immediate action to address the findings. Today’s actions build on the reforms already undertaken in the years since first learning about the issues.
Mr. Wainstein’s investigation found:
·         Two people within the department formerly known as African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM)—Julius Nyang’oro and Deborah Crowder—were responsible for offering hundreds of irregular classes at UNC-Chapel Hill between 1993 and 2011.
·         These so-called “paper classes” were irregular in that they had no class attendance or faculty involvement, and Ms. Crowder, a non-faculty administrator, managed the classes and graded the papers.
·         Over the course of their 18-year existence, the paper classes affected 3,100 out of a total of 97,600 undergraduate students who were enrolled at the University during that time period.
·         Student-athletes accounted for 47.6 percent of enrollments in the irregular classes.
·         Many of the student-athletes were directed to the classes by academic counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes. These counselors saw the paper classes and the artificially high grades they yielded as key to helping some student-athletes remain eligible.
·         Academic advisors in the Office of Academic Advising also directed non-athlete students to these courses.
·         Various University personnel were aware of red flags, yet did not ask questions. There was a failure of meaningful oversight by the University.
Mr. Wainstein’s investigation found no indication of wrongdoing in any academic departments beyond AFAM, that no current coaches were involved or aware and that the reported wrongdoing ended in 2011.
“Mr. Wainstein has found that the wrongdoing at Carolina lasted much longer and affected more students than previously known. The bad actions of a few and the inaction of others failed the University’s students, faculty and alumni, and undermined the institution as a whole,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “This conduct could and should have been stopped much earlier by individuals in positions of influence and oversight, and others could have sounded the alarm more forcefully.”
“I apologize first to the students who entrusted us with their education and took these courses. You deserved so much better from your University, and we will do everything we can to make it right,” continued Folt. “I also want to apologize to the Carolina community – you have been hurt both directly and indirectly by this wrongdoing, even though you had no knowledge or responsibility for it, and many of you were not even here when most or all of it occurred.”
Based on Mr. Wainstein’s findings, the University will take the following actions and launch a number of new initiatives:
·         Launch a new public records website ( to enhance accountability, responsiveness and efficiency around records requests. That site is live as of today.
·         Add faculty to a group that reviews student-athlete eligibility and progress toward degree.
·         Establish a working group to ensure there are clear, consolidated and confidential channels through which people can raise their hand and share concerns. The working group will also recommend how best to oversee the University’s commitment to integrity and compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and policies.
·         Continue to align and advance existing advising and support programs for student-athletes, further integrating the delivery of academic and career advising to include intensive and early attention to major exploration and post-college opportunities.
·         Conduct an institution-wide policy and procedure audit that will allow the University to identify any remaining redundancies and gaps, and create a mechanism for periodic re-evaluation.
·         Develop and implement an expanded process for the systematic, consistent evaluation and review of every unit and department. The Provost or appropriate director will be authorized to launch a special department review as needed.
·         Immediately implement a plan to stabilize the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies. Similarly, director of athletics Bubba Cunningham has been executing a plan to bolster integrity and accountability throughout the Athletics organization.
·         Take fact-based personnel actions, including terminating or commencing disciplinary action against nine University employees. Others implicated in the report include former University employees.
“I appreciate Mr. Wainstein’s hard work, professionalism and diligence in bringing us to today,” said UNC President Tom Ross. “I expect the findings will enable Chancellor Folt to build on earlier reforms and take the decisive steps needed to bring to a close the remaining questions and concerns around this matter. I will work closely with her and with the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees and the UNC Board of Governors to take what we’ve learned and ensure that Carolina emerges a stronger university dedicated to our students and our state.”
“In February, President Ross and Chancellor Folt tasked us with conducting a comprehensive and independent investigation to get to the bottom of the irregular class scheme that went on for almost two decades on the Chapel Hill campus,” said Wainstein, a partner with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP. “We have spent the past eight months investigating every possible academic and athletic angle of that scheme, and today’s report lays out our findings and the full story behind the irregular classes. I want to thank President Ross, Chancellor Folt and the staff and students of the University for their exceptional cooperation with our investigation and for their commitment to unearthing the truth about this difficult chapter in the history of one of the country’s finest universities.”
Since first learning about these irregularities, Carolina has implemented numerous reforms, including new policies and processes to ensure compliance with teaching workloads and regular reviews of department chairs; ConnectCarolina, a new electronic student and course record database to help the University better track students enrolled in independent study and other courses; regular classroom visits to confirm classes are being held as scheduled; and additional oversight and support has been added for student-athletes for each sport in the Department of Athletics.
“Carolina is already stronger as a result of our journey over the past few years. Throughout our history, no single moment has defined us, but we are at our best when our most difficult moments teach us,” said Folt. “Our core mission as an institution is academics. I believe we can also offer strong and successful athletics programs, and that in fact athletics advances our academic mission. While we accept full responsibility for the past, the wind is in our sails for the future because our students, faculty and staff are so strong.”
Mr. Wainstein’s report can be accessed in its entirety at As previously announced, UNC-Chapel Hill will share publicly all documents cited in Wainstein’s report to enhance transparency around these records.

McCants: Williams Knew “100 Percent” About Paper Classes

Originally posted 9:20 a.m., June 6, 2014

Former UNC basketball star Rashad McCants has told ESPN that tutors wrote papers for him, he remained eligible only because of phony “paper classes” – and that his coaches, including Roy Williams, were fully aware of what was going on.

McCants made those comments – and more – on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.” The program is set to air today at 3:00 p.m.

Click here for the story.

“I didn’t write any papers,” he says on the show. “Some of the premier players, we didn’t write our papers…we would get a call from our tutors, we’d all pack up in one big car, or two or three cars, carpool over to the tutor’s house, and basically get our papers and go about our business.”

As for Roy Williams, McCants says “I think he knew 100 percent” about the misconduct. (This marks the first time a player or former player has suggested Williams himself may have been aware of what was going on.)

UNC officials haven’t yet commented to WCHL on the story, which broke Friday morning.

UNC released the following statements Friday:

UNC Head Men’s Basketball Coach Roy Williams:

“Our players have been deeply hurt over the last couple of years, and again today, by the comments and innuendo concerning their academic achievements. The young men who accepted scholarships to play basketball at this University have done so expecting a world-class basketball experience, in addition to a world-class education. Obviously, we pride ourselves on being one of the top basketball programs in the country, but equally important, in helping our players grow academically and socially, as we promised their parents we would.

Our student-athletes understand the value of a degree from the University of North Carolina and accept their academic responsibilities in earning that degree. They take seriously their efforts to, in some cases, become the first member of their families to graduate from college.

I love them for all they have meant to UNC and to me, and I will continue to believe in and support them.

With respect to the comments made today, I strongly disagree with what Rashad (McCants) has said. In no way did I know about or do anything close to what he says and I think the players whom I have coached over the years will agree with me. I have spent 63 years on this earth trying to do things the right way and the picture he portrays is not fair to the University or me.”

Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham:

“It is disappointing any time a student is dissatisfied with his or her experience. I welcome the opportunity to speak with Rashad McCants about returning to UNC to continue his academic career – just as we have welcomed many former student-athletes interested in completing their degrees.

The University hired former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein in January to conduct an independent investigation into past academic and athletic irregularities. While these are the first allegations we have heard from Mr. McCants, I encourage him to speak with Mr. Wainstein. We are confident Mr. Wainstein’s inquiry will provide us with a full understanding of these issues.

Since becoming Carolina’s director of athletics, I have gotten to know some of Mr. McCants’ teammates, and I know that claims about their academic experience have affected them deeply. They are adamant that they had a different experience at UNC-Chapel Hill than has been portrayed by Mr. McCants and others. I am impressed with their love for Carolina and passion for their education. Several of them have continued to take classes and finish their degrees and all of them are proud of their academic achievements. We, too, are proud of them.”

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham told OTL in a statement, ““It is disappointing any time a student is dissatisfied with his or her experience. I welcome the opportunity to speak with Rashad McCants about returning to UNC to continue his academic career – just as we have welcomed many former student-athletes interested in completing their degrees.

The university hired former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein in January to conduct an independent investigation into past academic and athletic irregularities. While these are the first allegations we have heard from Mr. McCants, I encourage him to speak with Mr. Wainstein. …

I have gotten to know some of Mr. McCants’ teammates, and I know that claims about their academic experience have affected them deeply. They are adamant that they had a different experience at UNC-Chapel Hill than has been portrayed by Mr. McCants and others.”

McCants starred on Carolina’s 2005 national championship team.

UNC Commissions “Outside Experts” To Review Willingham’s Data

CHAPEL HILL – UNC Provost Jim Dean said that he stands by the University’s analysis which refutes the claims made by Mary Willingham that a majority of student-athletes she studied had sub-par reading skills. At a Board of Trustees Committee meeting Wednesday, Dean said that the University has commissioned an independent review of Willingham’s data to verify if UNC’s take is true.

Dean said that Willingham’s raw data set and methodology will be independently evaluated by an outside group comprised of experts in educational testing, with a report based on the group’s findings to follow. He estimated that they will return the results within a couple of weeks.

Following the BoT University Affairs Committee meeting, Dean said that he couldn’t release the names of the experts at this time.

Willingham, a former athletics tutor, sparked the latest UNC scandal when she told CNN, in the now infamous article, that 60 percent of the 183 UNC athletes she researched read between a fourth and eighth grade reading level.

Last week, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, Director of Admissions Steve Farmer and Dean fired back, saying that Willingham’s methodology was incorrect and based on a vocabulary test that wasn’t designed to measure reading levels.

Willingham told WNCN Wednesday that the way Dean explained her data analysis was “100 percent incorrect.”

“I’ve already told you what I think [about the data]—but I think it is a fair question. We can verify that with outside experts. That process is going on right now. As soon as we have the data back, we will let you know,” Dean said.

UNC Faculty Chair Jan Boxill acknowledged that some student athletes come in less prepared than their peers and face many challenges.

“Can we say that everybody got the same kind of education? Nobody [can]. So I think that we provide an opportunity for everybody here to have a quality education. People make choices, and so they have the opportunities to do lots,” Boxill said.

Student-Athlete Academic Initiatives Working Group

During the committee meeting, Dean outlined the progress of the Student-Athlete Academic Initiatives Working Group.

The Working Group, which began meeting last September, is examining current practices and policies that govern the approximately 800 student-athletes at Carolina. The goal is to document student-athletes from recruitment to graduation. Members include Dean, Farmer and Bubba Cunningham Director of Athletics.

“This Working Group is one of the great symbols of a University that is striving, without perfection, but striving to try to integrate, in the best possible way academic life and athletic life,” Dean said.

There are 22 processes governing the lives of student athletes. Dean said the Working Group has documented 8 or 9 of them.

“We know we have documentation of the admissions process and some of the registration processes. This is how we are going to govern student athletes from the academic side going forward.”

Dean said the Working Group meets about every three weeks, including a meeting this Friday, with three coaches joining discussions on the topic of recruiting.

“We hope that the work that we do will be useful to other universities around the country because the issues that we are facing—and you know this—are not unique.”

A detailed public document mapping all of the changes that have been made will be released when the Working Group’s efforts are completed.

Boxill added that there will be a national sports summit held in Chapel Hill on May 2 and 3 called “True Sport You: The Impact of College Athletics on Education, Youth Sport, & American Culture.” The summit was organized by leaders from UNC and Penn State, two universities that have felt the effects of sports scandals.

Folt, UNC Leaders Say Whistleblower’s Data/Collection Methods Were Wrong

CHAPEL HILL – UNC Chancellor Carol Folt joined other University leaders Friday to counter the findings of former athletic tutor Mary Willingham, who raised concerns about the literacy levels of student athletes. Faculty leadership said those claims were “erroneous” and derived from a vocabulary test that was not intended to measure reading levels.

At a packed Faculty Council meeting, Provost Jim Dean said Willingham’s research that purported a majority of Carolina’s student athletes read at a level no higher than eighth grade were based on the Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA). It is a vocabulary test that the University used to screen some student-athletes for potential learning differences/learning disabilities until the 2012-2013 school year. The SATA is not affiliated with the SAT administered by the College Board.

Dean said it is not intended to measure reading competency.

“I will make this personal. My conclusion, based on working with the team doing the analysis, is that any claim made based on this data set is virtually meaningless. It has been grossly unfair to our students. Many of you are faculty and have had these students in class. Using this data set to say that our students cannot read is a travesty,” Dean said.

University officials said they had not seen the full data set that Willingham shared with CNN until Monday in the now infamous article.

Willingham stated publicly that she repeatedly tried to share the data with University officials to raise awareness about the literacy problems she said she had observed.

As reported in the CNN article, Willingham researched the reading levels of 183 UNC football and basketball players from 2004 to 2012. She said that she found that 60 percent read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels.

Folt joined Dean and Steve Farmer, the Director of Undergraduate Admissions, to refute Willingham’s assertion.

“Those grade equivalents were never meant to predict grade equivalence and reading levels. They may, at best, [show] something about vocabulary, but they are not meant to [be interpreted] that way. It is a part of a bigger analysis you do when you do the whole series of tests,” Folt said.

After examining Willingham’s findings, CNN consulted its own “academic experts” and determined that the threshold for being college-literate is a score of 400 on the SAT critical reading or writing test. On the ACT, that threshold is 16.

CNN’s investigation revealed that in most schools, 7 to 18 percent of revenue-sport athletes read at an elementary school level.

Released Thursday, Carolina’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions used CNN’s definition to analyze UNC’s own SAT and ACT data for special-talent student-athletes enrolled as first-year students.

UNC’s analysis found that between 2004 and 2012, the same time period examined by CNN, Carolina enrolled 1,377 first-year student-athletes through the special-talent policies and procedures.

More than 97 percent of those students met the CNN threshold, according to UNC. Thirty-nine students, fewer than 3 percent, did not.

This data was released the same day University officials revoked Willingham’s research privileges. UNC said the suspension was due to violations of federal and University policies regarding the identification of individual students.

During the hour-long presentation to faculty, Dean shared that this has been a period of hardship for the University.

“Whether you believe the allegations or do not believe the allegations, it has been a source of pain across the University to whatever extent you believe what has been said—it is painful. This is either because you believe that there are some really ugly facts about the University, our admissions process and our student athletes, or you believe that there have been unfair accusations made, or perhaps some combination of the two,” Dean said.

Folt said that Willingham’s raw data set and methodology will be independently evaluated by an outside group, with a report based on the group’s findings to follow.

Catching Up With Fmr. UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp

CHAPEL HILL – Former UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp returned to Chapel Hill this weekend. It was his first time back on campus since he departed this summer for Washington University in Saint Louis to take on his new role as Provost.

“It’s great being back in Chapel Hill, seeing old friends, and seeing a lot of the things I started and how they are doing,” Thorp said. “It’s good seeing the campus in such a great spirit and things going so well so well for Chancellor Folt.”

Thorp gave a lecture on Sunday about the importance of the study of the Humanities at the University.

Following his talk, he received several standing ovations from a crowd which included Chair of the UNC Board of Trustees Lowry Caudill and Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham.

Chancellor Carol Folt took over as the University’s leader on July 1. Thorp said he met with Carolina’s first female chancellor on Friday for an extended lunch to catch up.



During his time as Chancellor, Thorp led Carolina through academic and athletic scandals which still haunt the University to this day.

Last year, Thorp announced his intention to step down as Chancellor into a faculty role effective June 30, but he later decided to depart Chapel Hill and accepted the Provost position at Washington University.

“The Provost job is a job that is well suited to me. My boss and me are completely in sync on many different things. It is a university that is unapologetically bold in its aspirations for academic excellence.”

Thorp on UNC sports

Thorp, an avid sports fan, said he didn’t make it over to Raleigh to watch the Tar Heel football team defeat N.C. State 27-19 on Saturday, but he did find a way to celebrate the game here in Chapel Hill.

“My college roommate and I watched it on TV,” Thorp said. “At halftime, to feel like old times, we walked over to the Yogurt Pump for some frozen yogurt, which is what we used to do when we lived in Connor Dorm 30 years ago.”

Thorp said he wouldn’t be able to make it back for many basketball games in Chapel Hill, but said he was still nevertheless ready for UNC’s first game of the season this Friday against the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies.

“I hadn’t bought a television in a long time, and I bought myself a very large HD TV, so I’m looking forward to basketball season.”

On his legacy

Leaving a legacy of encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation at Carolina, Thorp said he was most proud of his part in improving college accessibility during his time as Chancellor.

“It’s something I knew would be important to provide the kind of opportunity in a college education that happens here [UNC]. When you leave, you see how precious and wonderful a thing it is,” Thorp said. “I know Chancellor Folt is really amazed by that, coming from private, higher education. This tradition we have of meeting 100 percent of need and being need-blind and having 1-in-5 of our students being the first generation of in their family to go to college—I mean, God, that is even better and more important than I thought it was when I was here.”

As far as his plans to return to Chapel Hill one day, he said, “I’ve given up on trying to speculate what will happen in the future.”

Thorp said he will remain with Washington University for as long as he is needed.

UNC’s Jan Boxill & Jim Dean Talk Athletics/Academics

CHAPEL HILL – Jan Boxill, UNC’s Faculty Chair, said Wednesday that significant progress has been made in achieving “balance” between athletics and academics at the University. In the wake of scandals that continue to haunt Carolina, the pressure is on to make changes and prevent future indiscretions.

“We can be a model for other Division I athletic programs,” Boxill said. “That doesn’t mean that we will reach complete agreement among the faculty as no policy will.”

In mid-July, Boxill was accused by the Raleigh News and Observer of a cover-up regarding information about UNC’s athletic program

Boxill told WCHL News that she was cast in a negative light by the N&O for trying to help the University’s image during tumultuous times with the NCAA, the media, and even the public. UNC faculty issued a statement supporting Boxill after the article was published.

Photo by Dan Sears

Photo by Dan Sears

While addressing a committee of the Board Trustees Wednesday, Boxill said that the work of the Faculty Council’s athletics focus group had been tedious, but that it was on a path toward progress.

Efforts have been on-going across campus to strengthen relationships between academics and athletics. The Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes was reorganized and now reports to Dean’s office.

Earlier this month, the Rawlings Panel issued a report on the role of athletics in campus life. It was commissioned by former UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp.

Boxill said that report was discussed by the Faculty Council on September 13 and will be dissected more thoroughly next month.

Chancellor Carol Folt and Provost Jim Dean both assumed their respective positions this summer. Boxill said this has given her a fresh perspective on Carolina’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Their visible presence and willingness to learn from all of us has presented opportunities for the faculty to find solutions to our old and new problems,” Boxill said.

Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham, Folt, and Dean together formed the Student Athlete Academic Working Group in August.

Dean said Wednesday that the three leaders were not making just a “casual effort” to improve the connection between athletics and academics

“And this group, because of the nature of the people who are on the group, is not a group that will be making recommendations,” Dean said “There is no one for us to make recommendations to. We will be making changes.”

UNC Provost-elect Jim Dean

UNC Provost-elect Jim Dean

He added that he, Folt, and Cunningham were going through “everything that has to do with student athletes with a fine-toothed comb.”

UNC Top Leaders Tackle Athletic/Academic Relations

CHAPEL HILL – In the wake of academic and athletic scandals, UNC is now in a unique position to turn negatives into positives and re-write the role of athletics in university life. Provost Jim Dean, UNC’s chief academic officer, in his first months in the position, said the process of examining academic support to student athletes has already begun.

Dean took over as UNC’s provost on July 1, replacing Bruce Carney, who returned to the faculty after four years in the position. Carney, and former Chancellor Holden Thorp, led the university through tumultuous times in the midst of an NCAA investigation of the University’s football program, that subsequently revealed “irregularities” in the African and Afro-American Studies Department.

“It is clear that there are some areas where we haven’t done as well as we should have, and so what we want to make sure is that we really have a very thorough, rigorous framework that we can use for everything that we are doing with student athletes,” Dean said.

UNC Provost-elect Jim Dean

UNC Provost Jim Dean

As former dean of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Dean watched as Carolina’s senior leadership dealt with the blows of the scandals. He said the controversies have been reported “thoroughly,” and as a result there may have been a misconception about how wide-reaching the academic scandals were.

“If you added up all of the things that people have talked about over the past few years, in terms of the number of people that it has touched, it is actually a really small number of people,” Dean said. “Again, I will emphasize that there’s 800 or so student athletes, and we are talking about a relative handful. If we are talking about courses, it is the same thing. If you are talking about faculty, we are talking about really, really small numbers in a university that has 30,000 students and 3,000 professors.”

Dean said in a few short months, he has forged a strong relationship with Carolina’s new batch of leaders, including Chancellor Carol Folt and Bubba Cunningham, now two years into his role as Director of Athletics. Together, the three have already begun work as the Student Athlete Academic Working Group.

“I think it is natural that when you have that many new people, we will come in and look around and say we have inherited a wonderful university, certainly one of the top universities in the country, but there’s always more that you can do and ways to make things better,” he said. “I do think that some of the problems we’ve had have inspired us to dig a little deeper and try a little harder to make sure that we are doing everything we can to live up to the standards of the university.”

Other members include Michelle Brown, who joined the University last spring as Director of the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes, and Stephen Farmer, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions. Dean said the group will also examine student athlete recruitment, admission and advising processes.

“It is important for me to say as Provost, I have a responsibility for the academic lives of all students, including all student athletes,” Dean said. “I am working closely with Bubba Cunningham as the Athletic Director, who has responsibility for the student athletes as athletes, and we have a great partnership that we are using to work together.”

Dean said the working group aims to build on recent progress made across campus in strengthening relationships between academics and athletics. Examples include the ongoing work of the Faculty Council’s Faculty Athletics Committee; the reorganization of and new leadership for the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, which now reports to Dean’s office; and the implementation of the new strategic plan in the athletics department, according to UNC’s website.

In a large scale operation such as UNC, Dean said it is impossible to control every aspect, but examining current processes is a starting place for improvement.

“Whenever you are dealing with people, you can’t really make any guarantees in any sphere of life. But really all well-run organizations have a way that they do things.”

In April, work also began on a college athletics round table discussion commissioned by Holden Thorp and led by Hunter Rawlings, President of the Association of American Universities. UNC asked the panel to make recommendations about the role of athletics in the life of a university, taking into account the recent challenges the university has faced.  In ongoing discussions, the panel is covering the NCAA, presidential control, amateurism, the current context of the model for college athletics, and the role of faculty.