Source confirms 9 employees who will face disciplinary action
A person familiar with the matter has confirmed the names of nine people facing disciplinary action — including at least four terminations — after they were implicated in Wednesday's report from independent investigator Kenneth Wainstein.
The person could not confirm whether each employee was terminated or facing other disciplinary action because of the University's policies on handling terminations. According to the person familiar with the matter, the nine people currently facing disciplinary action are:
Lee, an academic counselor in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, was “aware of every irregular aspect of these paper classes," according to the Wainstein report.
Wainstein defined paper classes as those courses where students would not have to attend class or complete any assignments, except a paper due at the end of the semester that Deborah Crowder, a secretary in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, would grade leniently.
Lee and fellow football counselors Beth Bridger and Cynthia Reynolds sent an email to athletes urging them to rely on Crowder, who had no credentials to grade papers.
"Debbie Crowder is retiring … if you would prefer that she read and grade your paper rather than Professor Nyang'oro, you will need to have the paper completed before the last day of classes," the email read, according to Wainstein's report.
McMillan, a senior lecturer in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies, was close to Crowder and did not report numerous “red flags” from his interactions with her, according to the report.
McMillan has led the campus Black and Blue Tours, which explore UNC landmarks in the context of racial history on campus since 2001. In the report, Wainstein found that Crowder had created paper classes and designated McMillan as a professor. At least seven times, McMillan signed the grade sheets for the bogus classes, the report said.
"I don't know why (my signature) is there, but it is there," McMillan told Wainstein and his team, according to the report.
Owen is a tenured professor of dramatic art and was senior associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences from 2005 to 2014.
According to the report, she asked Nyang’oro to cut back his volume of independent studies in 2006 and was aware of uncertainty about the veracity of Nyang’oro’s signature on grade change forms, but apparently did not mention these issues to “anybody above her in the administration.”
Carolyn Cannon, then the dean of academic advising, once told Owen she was concerned that someone had been signing professor Julius Nyang'oro's grade sheets for him. Nyang'oro, then the chairman of the African and Afro-American studies department, was Crowder's main accomplice in the bogus paper classes scheme. The University asked Nyang'oro to retire in 2011.
"In response to Cannon's concerns, Owen got a sample signature from Nyang'oro and gave it to Cannon to use as a comparison for future grade forms," the report said. "Owen took no further action."
Boxill served as chairwoman of the faculty from April 2011 to June 2014 after spending years as the women’s basketball academic counselor.
She had an extensive understanding of paper classes and Crowder's management of them, according to the report, although she told investigators she thought Nyang'oro did participate in the classes some way.
While she is no longer listed as director of the Parr Center of Ethics on the center's website, no one from the University would confirm whether she faces termination. An automatic email response from her account said she will be out of the office until Monday Oct. 27.
Crowder and Boxill admitted to colluding to beef up grades to ensure athletes could play and subsequently graduate. In one email exchange, Crowder asked Boxill if a D would suffice for a player to graduate.
In response, Boxill said, "Yes, a D will be fine; that's all she needs. I didn't look at the paper but figured it was a recycled one as well, but couldn't figure out from where."
Mutima, a lecturer in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies, did not share McMillan's close relationship with Crowder but apparently did "have some knowledge of the paper classes," according to the report.
Mutima's involvement in the paper classes began in frustration. According to the report, the Swahili professor was annoyed by student-athlete's apathy toward his classes and blamed Crowder for putting players in his classes.
"Faced with the choice of having a disruptive student-athlete in his class or off-loading the behavior problem to Crowder's paper class … Mutima occasionally opted for the latter," the report said.
As the associate athletic director for football operations under former football coach Butch Davis, Holliday was aware of the paper classes but thought they were similar to independent studies in any department, according to the report.
Holliday told investigators he knew the paper classes were easy and players likely took the classes to balance their tough schedules, the report said.
"He never heard that they were used specifically to keep players eligible," the report said.
Gore assisted Crowder before her retirement in 2009. After she left, Gore took on more responsibilities, including direct interaction with former chairman Julius Nyang’oro. Gore told investigators he understood the nature of paper classes but, unlike Crowder, he never graded papers.
In one email exchange used by investigators, Boxill told Gore she felt a player deserved an "A- or at least a B+" on a paper. The student eventually received an A- for the class.
"When we pressed Gore about this exchange, he denied having assigned the A- himself, but suggested that he may well have passed Boxill's suggestion on to Nyang'oro, who was the instructor of record for that paper class," the report said.
As the former women's soccer counselor, Blanton knew his players would travel extensively to play on national soccer teams. He worked with Coach Anson Dorrance to use the ease of the bogus paper classes as a benefit to lure potential recruits to UNC.
Blanton, now the current associate director of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, told investigators he did not know Crowder ran paper classes without faculty interaction. But the report said he was aware of paper classes and "directed some of his players toward" them.
"Although we have no reason to believe that he understood these classes were unorthodox at best, we have no evidence to dispute his claim that he was unaware that Crowder was handling and doing the grading for these classes with no involvement by a faculty member," the report said.
Bridger, former associate director of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, worked at UNC-Wilmington until Wednesday, the News & Observer reported Wednesday night.
While at UNC, Bridger and Lee made a presentation to the football coaching staff in November 2009 that discussed the football team’s past reliance on paper classes.
A slide from the presentation is in the Wainstein report and details how the classes that football players had been taking to maintain eligibility would be ending thanks to Crowder's impending retirement.
A PowerPoint slide titled “What was part of the solution in the past?” listed the ways players were able to avoid doing actual work in the paper classes.
“THESE NO LONGER EXIST,” the bottom of the slide said, alerting the coaches.
The presentation also highlighted how Crowder's retirement might impact athletes' grade point averages.
“The average (African and Afro-American studies) paper class GPAs for these players was 3.61 — far higher than their average GPA of 1.917 for their other classes,” the report said.
The Daily Tar Heel will update this list as more information becomes available about employees' statuses with the University.
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