More than 3000 students, many athletes, involved in UNC academic scandal

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.

You can read more about the scandal in the Washington Post or the New York Times, and the story has appeared in nearly every major publication over the past few days.

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.

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James
6 years ago

To me this is a symptom of a larger problem in college athletics. You can’t have 2 priorities…school and sport. At the end of the day even a very good student athlete will see one or the other suffer when full attention isn’t given one direction. Why do you think so many swimmers are thriving in the post-graduate professional swimming environment? They can put all their eggs in that basket and ideally not have to worry about something like a final.

swim
Reply to  James
6 years ago

That is completely and utterly false.

James
Reply to  swim
6 years ago

Really? I’m not saying you can’t be successful in both, but the simple definition of “priority” is that something takes precedent over another thing. I suppose you think that every athlete gets into a university on the same academic profile as the rank-and-file student?

Steve
Reply to  swim
6 years ago

Swim is correct when you look at someone like Connor Jaeger
200 Fly & 400 IMer – transitions over to 1650 & 1500
Makes Olympics all while pulling I believe a 4.0 in a major Engineering Program

College is not for everyone
When you take a student who is NOT capable of college and accept them for their Athletics only and the money they can make the university – this support of grades is the result

swimmer
Reply to  Steve
6 years ago

Good… you named 1…

law Dawg
Reply to  Steve
6 years ago

I heard he had a 3.2 GPA. That’s a huge difference.

Student-Athlete
Reply to  James
6 years ago

As a current student-athlete, a swimming All American, and a Capital One Academic All American I am upset by this comment. Athletics and academics can both be (and for me both are) priorities. In name, student should come first, but the reality is they work together. I can’t do well in the pool if I’m not excelling in the classroom and I can’t do well in my coursework if I am unhappy with my practices. The two work together. The student-athlete identity exists so that we can have these two priorities coexist and actually help each other. Neither needs to suffer.

ACC swim
6 years ago

I swam. I went to college. I had two priorities. I succeeded without cheating. Neither suffered.

theroboticrichardsimmons
Reply to  ACC swim
6 years ago

I think it might be difficult to claim that neither suffered. I also swam in college, did pretty well in the pool and in school. At Princeton, our coach enforced his ASS principal – in other words, our priorities were Academic, Swimming, Social, in that order. For many of us, it worked out fine (thought it was sometimes a sliding priority).

However, when I attended grad school and hung up the speedo and goggles, I quickly discovered that it was much, much easier to focus on school work and excel in the classroom. It wasn’t even close. But of course it would have been – I had 4 extra hours every day and I wasn’t tired as a dog.… Read more »

Big Ten Swim
6 years ago

I completely with ACC Swim. There’s no excuse for this.

Steve Schaffer
Reply to  Big Ten Swim
6 years ago

Yes, but to say or imply that academic do impact athletic performance, or vice-versa, in just a negative way is also simplistic. When I swam my grades suffered when I had to quit swimming. I no long had the descipline that the training/study schedule forced me to keep. I was much more successful with swming than without it. When I went to graduate school, my grades increased when I began training with a high level Masters program and playing on the club water polo team.

One does impact the other, but it depends on the individual as to what that impact may look like.

6 years ago

In the eyes of the NCAA, nothing to see here, so move along. But substitute “S” for “N” and it becomes a scandal.

But seriously, 1500 student “athletes” over a period of 18 years? Lack of institutional control with even participation by UNC’s Director of the Parr Center for Ethics?

By the USC standard of scandal and sanctions, the Tarheels should get multiple “death penalties” for both Football and Men’s Basketball. The problem is that the USC standard (monitoring of “high profile athletes” and athletic administration “should have known”) are subjective and have never been applied to any other school.

The NCAA is at a crucial point in how it administers this case.

anon
Reply to  SwimPhan
6 years ago

Are you kidding? USC gets away with many violations. SOCAL swim and USC alumni and friends do WHATEVER it takes to give this program an “unfair” advantage. The LSC even went as far as adding rules to the rulebook for “college” athletes, but if you attend any college other than USC or UCLA the rules do not apply. Alumni and friends are untouchable – follow the trails.

John Dussliere
Reply to  anon
6 years ago

ANON,
Name names. Your vague anonymous attack has no substance. You will then get a factual response. You sound bitter. That’s no way to live.

anon
Reply to  John Dussliere
6 years ago

John,

At the Convention, the Governance Committee Minutes (9-18-2014), Bruce Stratton indicated that he felt it was time to re-consider the issue related to LSC employees who serve on the USA-S Board of Directors and whether or not this scenario created a conflict of interest. Mary Jo Swalley, who earns approx. $100,000 from the LSC and use to sit on the Board is a definite example of a conflict of interest.

SOCAL was forced to change their rulebook, recently, to reflect the “rules” that do apply.
SOCAL created a “rule” in their rulebook which allowed “college” athletes the ability to enter sanctioned USA Swimming meets in the LSC even though they did not have recorded times from a sanctioned… Read more »

anon
Reply to  anon
6 years ago

Remember what happened to Tara Kirk at the hands of USC alumni and friends? Not pretty!!!

Reply to  anon
6 years ago

Anon:
We may be talking two different worlds here. These UNC episodes relate to major Division I programs and specifically revenue sports of football and basketball. My comments were relating to the NCAA football sanctions unevenly applied to USC, Ohio State, Miami, Auburn and Oregon. This is the big time world of NCAA D1 athletics where the NCAA ought to be competently monitoring compliance but isn’t.

Your focus is specifically on swimming. But I find your claims about “violations” and “unfair” and “USC gets away with….” and “untouchable alumni and friends” are nothing more than vague generalizations. Trojan fans constantly hear the mantra that “USC cheats” but when pressed for specifics and evidence that argument evaporates.

You’ve… Read more »

anon
Reply to  SwimPhan
6 years ago

Swimphan,

Your first comment made it seem that USC is being signaled out and unfairly targeted. I am very familiar with USC and the tightness of their Alumni. I also know that it is much easier for students to get in a private school via their connections and not necessarily their GPA. The UC system has stricter policies than many private schools. The articles I’ve been reading about speak of the inflated GPA’s, does “A” stand for average, poorly educated college graduates, etc. A tutor was recently arrested for hacking a school computer and changing grades. GPA’s are not impressive when one realizes that comparing GPA’s across school districts is like comparing apples to oranges.

You’re right – there is… Read more »

rjcid
6 years ago

I have always considered swimmers, to be really good in academics. For some reason swimmers and swim teams have highest GPAs (atleast from my view). This may have some swimmers, but definitely not like the big programs.

Oh NCAA – you so cray

Accfan
6 years ago

Will virginia tech repeat as acc champs?

jamam
Reply to  Accfan
6 years ago

First of all, that has nothing to do with this subject, second of all no they will not…

CT Swim Fan
6 years ago

I wish I could find it, but a bunch of months back there was an example online of a “final paper” from one of these paper classes. The paper got an “A” and was half a page long and a very basic synopsis of a book that a 3rd grader could have written better. It was pretty disgraceful and I wonder how they got away with it for so long.

CT Swim Fan
6 years ago

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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