UNC’s athletic scandal has prompted a plethora of investigations, and an outside group is hoping to get the federal government involved.
The Student-Athletes Human Rights Project, a Durham-based organization, filed a complaint Friday with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging that black male athletes were discriminated against by UNC.
The complaint states black men were subject to discrimination by being disproportionately enrolled in no-show courses in the department of African and Afro-American Studies between the 1990s and 2011.
“Athletic department and senior university administrator officials have failed to remedy the disproportionality and to provide remedies for the males and people of color affected by the unequal treatment,” the complaint stated.
Group national coordinator Emmett Gill said UNC’s lack of response to the scandal prompted the complaint.
“The most important part is that our actions have come as a result of UNC’s unwillingness to allow us to be a part of the conversation,” he said.
Gill said the complaint was based off various reviews and media reports in the past three years.
At the Faculty Athletics Committee meeting Monday, Chancellor Carol Folt said UNC had not received the complaint yet, so she could not comment on it.
“We will wait until OCR comes back to us,” she said. “There could be years, with all of the things generated to OCR.”
Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw said he was unsure of the complaint’s status.
“We can neither confirm nor deny that the office has received a complaint in this matter,” Bradshaw said.
Gill said evidence of discrimination did not come to the group’s attention until December 2013 when former learning specialist Mary Willingham revealed her findings, which Gill said makes their claim valid as complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged misconduct.
“It was based on that reality that the data Mary provided was from December 2013. However, if the Office for Civil Rights comes back and says, ‘Well, that doesn’t count, you didn’t file within the 180-day period,’ then we will argue that the data just came to light within the last year,” he said.
UNC law professor Erika Wilson said in these cases, OCR investigators determine whether the complaint fits the 180-day window, which she thinks is questionable in this case because Gill’s organization is alleging an ongoing pattern of discrimination.
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