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.