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.