The University of North Carolina announced the results this week of an independent investigation into its past academic programs, concluding that over 3,000 students, nearly half of them athletes, had benefited from grade-inflated “phantom” courses.
A basic synopsis of the program: the University offered “paper courses” in its Afro-American studies department, courses that didn’t require students to do coursework, attend class, or even meet with professors. The only requirement of the class was a final paper at the end of the semester, and the investigation found that those in charge of the paper courses would automatically give out passing grades to many athletes to keep them eligible, most often members of the football and basketball teams.
School officials found out about the program in 2009 and started making efforts to clean up the system, while also hiring former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein to investigate the situation more deeply. Wainstein’s report is the one UNC released this week.
Both the Post and the Times report that it was over 3,100 students who were involved in the scandal over its 18 year run, nearly half of them athletes. The Post reports that the majority of the athletes involved were from the school’s high-profile football and basketball programs. It’s unclear whether any swimmers were ever involved in the program, though the swimming programs were not named among the five specifically in the report (football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, and women’s soccer). The impact of this investigation, though, will undoubtedly touch the entire athletics department.
UNC released Wainstein’s entire report on its website. You can find it, plus more information and the school’s initiatives and action programs, here.