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Were UNC football and basketball players advised to take fraudulent classes?

R’uh r’oh, Ole Roy! According to a report from the Raleigh News & Observer, members of the University of North Carolina basketball and football teams may have been advised to take fraudulent classes in order to maintain their eligibility. An internal probe released on Friday found evidence of unauthorized grade changes and “little to no” instruction from professors in classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies:

“There were 686 enrollments for the 54 suspect classes. Of those, football players accounted for 246 of the enrollments, or 36 percent, while basketball players accounted for 23 enrollments, or three percent, according to UNC. Together, football and basketball players accounted for 39 percent of the enrollments.”

The News & Observer began their investigation after obtaining the academic transcript of former UNC football player Marvin Austin, who the NCAA discovered received improper financial benefits from an agent. Austin’s transcript showed he had taken an upper-level African Studies class from Julius Nyang’oro, the chairman of the department, during the summer before his freshman year and received a B+, a suspicious grade for a player who hadn’t even taken a remedial English class. Former state Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr, now a lawyer who has helped the UNC football team come back after the NCAA handed down its punishments for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, says that academic advisers, tutors, and members of the athletic department often encouraged athletes take Nyang’oro’s classes in order to maintain their eligibility:

“These kids are putting in enormous amounts of time, and in at least some of the sports that are very physically demanding, they are missing a number of classes because of conflicts, and then if they are a marginal student to begin with, you’ve got to send them to Professor Nyang’oro’s class. I think the academic counselors realized that and the tutors recognized it and frankly the folks up the food chain for the most part recognized that. But nobody wants to rock the boat because it’s big money.”

Nyang’oro stepped down as chairman in September 2011 and is set to retire from the university on July 1st. UNC’s president Tom Ross said in a statement that he sees no need to look further into the “isolated situation” and that the institution has taken steps to make sure it won’t happen again.

What does this have to do with Kentucky? Nothing, but it’s yet another sad chapter in the corruption of college sports, and maybe, just maybe, makes people rethink the reputations of some of these “squeaky clean” programs. The worst part? The NCAA won’t touch the UNC basketball program, but if something like this happened in Lexington, Mark Emmert would already be in his car.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

29 Comments for Were UNC football and basketball players advised to take fraudulent classes?

  1. Pikiville25
    12:25 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    We need to make this a bigger story and its a good start by putting it on here, I hate how we are always the bad guys, so do whatever u can to get this to the higher up media types and see if they bite…Lord knows if this had anything to do with Cal and UK the hammer would be brought down…

  2. The NCAA
    12:26 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    UNC can do no wrong. This story must be fabricated. We won’t stand for the type of slander against our flagship university.

  3. Everywhere
    12:26 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Dinosaurs and Disasters or at least thats what it was called when I was at UK. Easy “A” class that all athletes took. It happens everywhere, UK is no different, not surprising

  4. Matt
    12:28 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    @3 – Ha, I took that, too. There was also an astronomy class focused on the Solar System and the Moon. Also an incredibly easy A.

  5. Mark Emmert
    12:30 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    The NCAA doesn’t have the resources to investigate every school. Give us a call when you’ve got something on Kentucky.

  6. PatPattersonISwalkingthruthatdoor
    12:32 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Since I had enough free time to go knocking on doors in Birmingham in 2010, surely I can find the time to go dig in Chapel Hill. Right? RIGHT?

  7. minton
    12:32 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    They’re all dirty to some extent from H.S. level all the way up.

  8. cristoforouk
    12:41 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Big difference between a class just being an easy A in general (there are many at every school) and athletes being recommended to take a class from a certain professor to stay eligible.

  9. pioneer
    12:42 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    #3 & #4 who didnt take Dinos and Disasters at UK. Of course every university has their “bunny shot” classes, can you imagine some of the classes students take at other Universities? I am thinking about UCONN and tOSU. haha I bet there are some real dandys at those schools. I can remember hearing about Andy Katzenmoyer(LB at OSU) being really slow to catch on, and people making jokes about him taking underwater basket weaving and free fall knitting. haha

  10. Ole Roy
    12:50 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    This doesn’t sound like some easy A class. It’s academic fraud when grades are changed for eligibility. Why wouldn’t the NCAA investigate this?

  11. Dollar Dave
    1:04 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Happens everywhere. A similar thing happened at Auburn a few years ago. It was discovered that a Prof was doing directed independent studies with many athletes, to the point where timewise, it would have been practically impossible for the Prof to do the administrative work.

  12. Clam
    1:08 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    The issue is not athletes taking classes for an “easy A,” even if they have been advised to do so. This happens at almost all universities with athletics. I have a friend who was advised to take “easy” classes in college, and he was a walk-on swimmer at a low-DI school. The problems is athletes being enrolled in courses that they are not qualified for (like the entering freshmen who is in a 300-level course), a pattern of grades being changed without good documentation as to why, and courses with no legitimate academic content.

  13. strange brew
    1:08 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Like Cuse and UNCONN, they will get a love tap on the wrist. If UK was involved with this, our banner would already been taken down.

  14. UKBlue
    1:10 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    This happens everywhere; everyone acts all surprised when this stuff comes out. If this came out at UK, the NCAA would build an investigation OFFICE next to the Craft Center. Since grades are an easy thing to harp on, get released to the media, and because he actually gives a damn are the reasons Cal pushes these kids on grades. Well those reasons & because he doesn’t want to end up with APR problems like UConn & his bonus is linked to grades.

  15. jaxcats8503
    1:36 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    #12 Clam: you’re exactly right.

  16. stevie
    1:37 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Every one of us (UK fans) who post on other sites need to get this info out. Personally, I am going to post it on ESPN and CBSSports. We all need to do out part to keep this from being buried. It might even be a good idea to email Emmert and the NCAA.

  17. Bigbluecalizone
    1:44 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    If this were us, there’d be more News Trucks set up outside Rupp than there were at the O.J. Trial.

  18. jp7
    1:47 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Taking an easy “underwater basketweaving” class is no big deal. Altering grades is. And how many of theses classes do atheltes take before they finally have to take required core classes in general ed and classes in their major and minor? How many of these classes are counted in majors described as “General Studies”? The point is, everybody looks for some easy classes to offset all the hard ones they have to take. But at some point, most students have to bite the bullet and take the tough classes. Athletes know going in their path is harder than the average student and they have to organize and use their time better than most. That’s why they get to go to school free. Advisors who steer them into as many gimmes as they can are not doing them any favors. If UNC was changing grades and pushing students into lots of freebies, they should face the consequences-but they won’t. Like he said, if it were UK, the NCAA would be all over it.

  19. Fred
    1:48 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Here’s the quote that stood out to me.

    “Some professors interviewed for the probe said they did not authorize grade changes that students taking the classes had received and said their names had been forged on academic records.”

    That doesn’t sound like a “students were advised to take easy courses” – sounds more like academic fraud.

  20. Stratblend
    1:58 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Anyone going to looke into Duke and their “sociology” department?
    80% of those in the dept are Athletes.

  21. Hamburger
    2:05 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Maybe all the Twitter fans can tweet this story to @ESPNAndyKatz, @EvanDanielscout, @DaveTelep, @CBSSports and ask them what they think of the story.

  22. KB
    2:50 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    How is this any different from any other college student who takes a class because the prof is known to give “easy A’s?” There’s not a college student out there who hasn’t done this. Why should athletes be held to a higher standard?

  23. PatPattersonISwalkingthruthatdoor
    2:59 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    (22) There’s a difference between “easy A” classes and classes that don’t even have a professor…

  24. Al's IndiCats
    3:51 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    This story came out yesterday, and Pete Thamel was all over it, my question is why isn’t anything else coming out about what happened in Febuary and March where one can be ineligiable for three weeks, become eligible long enough to get a low seeding in their tournament, then be ineligible for the NCAAs and old Petey Boy hasn’t said word one about this, nor has the NCAA? Are they looking the other way…..again? Just because it’s The Big EATS, they won’t write a word on this.

  25. Dudley
    4:36 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Wow 39% of the students enrolled in AA Studies classes were football and Basketball players, which were………..wait for it……….African American. Geez. You would probably see similar stats all over the country. If they were recieving false grades then burn their ass. But the percentages of the students, should not be surprising. Last i heard non African Americans were not lining up for African American Studies classes. More Cats less nonsense.

  26. thenamerobdigity
    4:37 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Marvin Austin a big time 5 star football recruit somehow took the “class” before he even enrolled in the University! That should be enough to show you that this was against NCAA rules, as long as accurate information is being reported.

  27. Han
    5:02 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    No need to look further into this isolated situation because 1) it will make the university look bad, and 2) it could lead to further evidence of cheating.

    Just because someone is retiring, it doesn’t mean anything they did wrong never happened. Likewise with players who are no longer at the school.

  28. shelbyJoe3
    5:35 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    one thing is for certain – if this EVER happened at UL, the CJ would NEVER report it. The editor would ensure it got swept under the rug … as if they’d ever investigate such shenanigans at UL anyway.

  29. bookend
    7:23 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    in the ’70’s, athletes were often encouraged to take courses under certain professors who were friends of the athletic program….this happened at every university back then. That is all I will say.