Athletics isn’t Everything

The University of North Carolina is in serious trouble after an extensive investigation for academic fraud. The investigation says that academic advisors pushed fake classes over an 18-year period, but no coaches or former athletic advisors were named during that 18-year period. The initial statement said that academic advisors in the athletic department partnered with a manager of the African and Afro-American studies department to create classes for athletes to take that would boost their GPA’s and keep them eligible in the sports.
The classes were started in 1993 and concluded in 2011. Debby Crowder, who was the longtime manager of the African and Afro-American studies department, oversaw these classes. The classes that were given to athletes required only writing a 10-page paper, and not requiring attending classes or even meeting with professors at all. Crowder personally graded the papers and she wasn’t even a professor. The athletes normally earned an A or B-plus grade, which boosted their GPA. Crowder had ties with many academic advisers and she was informed of what the student-athletes needed to maintain the minimum 2.0 GPA to be eligible to play. Also included in the report, certain advisers pushed Crowder to make exceptions for athletes. For example, allowing athletes to enroll in classes after the registration period had ended. When Crowder retired in 2009, Julius Nyang’oro took over and was urged to continue what Crowder had started. But in 2012 Julius was forced to retire and was charged with fraud for holding summer that classes that didn’t even exist.
UNC president Thomas W. Ross said, “The Crowder/Nyang’oro scheme marked a horrible chapter in the history of this great university.” Many academic advisers saw the classes as “GPA Boosters.” Also included in the report, coaches knew that athletes were taking really easy classes to get by and maintain their GPA. This investigation includes both the academic and athletic departments of the university. UNC president said, “From the beginning, the university has taken the position that these classes started in an academic department by a person employed by academic side of university, and the athletic department took advantage of it.” In 2009 academic advisers with the football staff held a meeting. During the meeting, Crowder retired and there was a slide show that noted that the classes were “part of the solution in the past.” Also these classes allowed athletes not to attend classes, take notes, or even meet with professors. Former UNC head football coach does not recall the presentation, but was aware that there were easier classes available. Though he did not know that an administrator graded the seminar classes. The easy classes that no longer exist were available to all students, not just the athletes. It’s estimated that more than 3,000 students participated and student-athletes accounted for almost 50% of that total.
This investigation has led to some disturbing discoveries. I have always looked at UNC as a prestigious university and could not believe what I was reading in the article. What these administrators did was so wrong that, it significantly lessens the integrity of a degree from UNC during this period. But that is the struggle that many of these top universities face when recruiting top athletes who cannot handle the academic requirements of an academic based university. It’s nice to see the NCAA cleaning up this situation and setting things straight. UNC has made many strides since this investigation went public and I hope they will be able to regain their degrees integrity.


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