Photo by Erik Andersen

CHAPEL HILL – In a letter signed by 16 UNC professors, faculty give Chair Jan Boxill their support and say that the media has largely distorted what Boxill was trying to do.

“It had nothing to do with the situation that was being investigated,” master lecturer at UNC Jean DeSaix says.

The issue commented on is the News and Observer’s July 20 story on Boxill saying she tried to cover up scandalous information about UNC’s athletic program. Dan Kane, writer for The N & O, alleged that Boxill did this to lessen the likelihood of further NCAA investigations.

DeSaix says that Boxill e-mailed the authors of an academic fraud report to change the description of one individual from an “athletic supporter” to a “booster.”

DeSaix says reports in state news outlets, particularly by the News and Observer, cast aspersions on the motives behind Boxill’s emails, which DeSaix traces back to her word choice.

“Just by using the phrase about it not being our intention to cause further NCAA concern, just using that phrase would make it seem as if we were trying to hide something,” DeSaix says.

The three authors of the academic fraud report itself were aware of Boxill’s intentions, according to another one of the letter’s signatories, Leslie Parise, professor of pharmacology at UNC.

“The faculty executive committee knows Jan Boxill and knows that her only interest was in accurate wording of the report,” Parise says. “This was affirmed by those faculty who were involved in authoring the report.”

WCHL reached out to the letter of support’s three authors and all of the professors who signed the letter of support. Other than the two quoted in this story, two of the authors said they didn’t want to comment or weren’t available and the third’s email had an out-of-town auto-response; the other signatories have not yet replied to WCHL’s request.