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.