The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday September 27th

Two fired for role in academic scandal, four others cleared of wrongdoing

Brent Blanton and Travis Gore have been fired for their involvement in UNC's academic-athletic scandal, according to a letter posted by the University today.

Corey Holliday, Alphonse Mutima and André Williams have been cleared of all wrongdoing by the University, the letter said. 

Bobbi Owen, as her lawyer told The Daily Tar Heel prior to the letter's publication, will not be allowed to hold administrative positions, but has been cleared of any other wrongdoing.

"The Wainstein report was wrong about me. However, because it was regarded when released as factual, terrible public accusations were made about me that were completely unfounded," Owen said in a statement through her lawyer.

"Today, that error has (finally) been acknowledged."

Blanton, the associate director for the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, directed women's soccer players to the fradulent classes in the former Department of African and Afro-American Studies, the Wainstein report said. 

Gore took over for Deborah Crowder as an administrative assistant in the former department after Crowder, who created the paper class scheme with former department chairperson Julius Nyang'oro in 1993, retired in 2009. The report said Gore "stated that he never graded papers and he did not sign grade change forms or other paperwork unless a professor authorized him to do so on his or her behalf" but did have knowledge about the structure of the courses.

Holliday, an administrator in the Department of Athletics, knew about the paper classes but thought they were no different from the typical independent study classes. 

Swahili professor Mutima pushed back against attempts by Crowder to change grades and place students in his Swahili courses whom Mutima said misbehaved, the report said. Despite his frustration, the report says Mutima ultimately took advantage of the paper classes to get distracting students out of his classroom.

Williams, the report says, was in the room when the football tutors gave the now-infamous powerpoint following Crowder's retirement. The powerpoint highlighted the discrepancy between players' performances in paper classes and typical lecture classes, and the report says former football coach Butch Davis was in the room for the presentation. 

Williams, the associate director of development in UNC's Arts and Sciences Foundation, was aware of the paper classes in his former role as director of football student-athlete development, Wainstein's team found.

He told Wainstein's team that he did not raise any issues with the paper classes because they were available to the entire student body. 

Drama professor Bobbi Owen's lawyer, Doug Kingsbery, says the Wainstein report was wrong about the former administrator's involvement in UNC's academic scandal.

Kingsbery, a Raleigh attorney with the firm Tharrington Smith LLP, said UNC will release a letter today discussing the individuals who have been under disciplinary review since the October 2014 release of the Wainstein report.

When the Wainstein report was released, Chancellor Carol Folt said nine individuals would face disciplinary action.

Four of those people — former tutors Jaimie Lee and Beth Bridger and former faculty members Jan Boxill and Tim McMillan — have left the University.

One more individual, African, African-American, and Diaspora Studies professor Alphonse Mutima, confirmed to The Daily Tar Heel in October that he is also under review.

UNC spokesperson Joel Curran confirmed a letter discussing the evaluation of certain individuals will come out today, but he said UNC stands by the Wainstein report.

"We're not saying the Wainstein report was wrong," he said.

Kingsbery said UNC will not take any disciplinary action toward Owen, although they don't want her to hold administrative roles in the future. Owen was the senior associate dean for undergraduate education from 2005-14.

In April, Owen told The Daily Tar Heel she planned to retire in the next three to five years.

According to the Wainstein report, Owen asked then-chairperson of the former Department of African and Afro-American Studies Julius 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.”

In November 2006, Owen thanked Nyang'oro after noticing a decline in independent studies in his department, according to the report.

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.

"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."


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