UNC-system Board of Governors releases its final scrutiny of misconduct
The UNC-system Board of Governors’ independent review of academic misconduct at UNC-CH, released Thursday, mostly agreed with known findings — but it raised new concerns among some members about the role of athletic advising.
The board’s Academic Review Panel presented its final report to the full board Thursday. In the report, the panel reviewed five other campus-initiated investigations and attributed the misconduct to former Department of African and Afro-American Studies chairman Julius Nyang’oro and administrator Deborah Crowder.
The most recent review was conducted by former N.C. Gov. Jim Martin, who presented his results at a Dec. 20 UNC Board of Trustees special meeting. The report showed irregular classes in the department that dated back as far as 1997.
“It was like the chairman had a fiefdom and he was the king — and no one was looking at what the king was doing,” said panel member Jim Deal.
Not all board members were convinced by the panel’s report. Board member Burley Mitchell said the role of athletics advisers should be scrutinized more.
“You don’t wind up with 45 percent of the students in classes like this being drawn from 5 percent of the student body by random. They were guided,” he said, referring to the proportion of student athletes in 172 total anomalous courses found since fall 2001.
The report suggests academic counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes steered student athletes into courses during the periods under review — without knowing they were anomalous.
But other board members, including David Young, said the recommendations in the report allayed their concerns. Recommendations include using technology to track suspicious clustering in courses and ensuring that student-athletes meet with nonathletic academic advisers annually.
“I’m not concerned from an athletic standpoint at all,” Young said. “But I am concerned that we fix the problems.”
Another concern that has emerged since the Martin Report relates to his finding that members of the Academic Support Program for Athletes previously approached members of the Faculty Athletics Committee about students taking questionable lecture courses and independent studies.
Martin said several members of the committee have since said they were never approached and were upset that Martin’s report implied they ignored these concerns.
Martin released a clarification on Feb. 5 which said he did not mean to imply committee members were aware of the issues prior to reports of anomalies, but in hindsight he might have “missed an opportunity for inquiring further.”
“We should have talked with more people, I admit that,” Martin said in an interview. “I guess after four months I was entitled to some haste, but that’s an error on our part.
“We should have gone into that more and found out if there was anybody that had a different view.”
Although Martin said his work is done, an investigation is still in progress by the State Bureau of Investigation, which should conclude by the end of this month.
Board Chairman Peter Hans said he will survey board members about the report and consider taking further action if the SBI report uncovers more wrongdoing.
Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities, will also analyze the relationship between the University’s athletics and academics, though a time frame is unknown.
Yet no matter how many investigations are conducted, panel members acknowledged that some facts about how the scandal transpired might never be revealed.
“It is still difficult to comprehend why no one came forward effectively to identify and attempt to stop this past academic misconduct,” the panel report states. “It is frustrating that we may never know.”
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