The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday June 10th

Gage: athletic culture needs change

UNC’s top leaders are frustrated with continuing reports of academic fraud involving athletes at UNC-Chapel Hill, said Hannah Gage, chairwoman of the UNC-system Board of Governors.

Gage said academic fraud will likely dominate parts of today’s board meeting amidst ongoing investigations in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at UNC-CH.

Last week, Chancellor Holden Thorp said the University will take back $12,000 from former department chair Julius Nyang’oro for a summer class he agreed to conduct in lecture format last summer. Officials have since discovered that Nyang’oro taught the class, which was comprised of nearly all football players, as an independent study course where he didn’t meet with students regularly and asked them to hand in a 15 page paper at the end of the summer session.

The 2011 summer school class was conducted after UNC officials pledged reform following the discovery that members of the football team had received improper help from a tutor.

Gage said there is a culture throughout competitive sports programs, including at UNC-CH, that promotes winning at all costs and may obstruct reform efforts.

“This doesn’t mean that Chapel Hill is unable to get to the bottom of it, but they can’t snap fingers, make a few changes and hope that it will change,” she said.

“There must be a methodical, persistent effort to put greater oversight, policies and accountable people in place,” Gage said.

She said she has full confidence in UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp and the Board of Trustees, and said the UNC system currently sees no need to get involved with investigations. Thorp and UNC-system President Thomas Ross will speak at the meeting.

Joni Worthington, spokeswoman for the UNC system, said portions of the meeting on academic fraud may be held in closed session.

At the meeting, the board will elect a new chair and vice chair as Gage’s four-year term ends in June. Administrative efficiency and the approval of new degree programs will also be discussed.

Charles Perusse, the system’s vice president for finance, said the board’s budget and finance committee will discuss administrative efficiency and need-based financial aid.

Perusse said the board will discuss updates to the state’s biennial budget, which is currently being debated in the N.C. General Assembly.

The state Senate has proposed modifications to last year’s budget that increase funding to the system and use state lottery revenues to offset a $35 million cut in need-based financial aid — an amount Perusse said could help thousands of students pay for their education.

The educational planning, policies and programs committee will discuss discontinuing 15 degree programs and plans for establishing a doctor of nursing practice at six universities, including UNC-CH.

Worthington said the board will choose its officers at Friday’s board meeting.

She said there is no formal slate of candidates running for office.

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