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New evidence puts UNC academic scandal back on the front burner

Jun 8, 2013, 11:09 PM EDT

North Carolina coach Williams and players watch the final minute of Kansas' win in the third round of the NCAA men's tournament in Kansas City, Missouri Reuters

We began hearing about possible academic malfeasance at North Carolina-Chapel Hill about a year ago. At first, the evidence pointed primarily toward the football team. Allegations of no-show classes, grade inflation, excessive assistance from tutors and other improprieties have been flying.

Then the true pride of the Tar Heels, the basketball team, became implicated.

Click here to read UNC academic scandal deepens, staffer says some Tar Heel athletes she oversaw had never read a book

Over time, other scandals pushed the UNC story out of the public consciousness (well, hello there, Scarlet Knights), but at least one professor at Chapel Hill refused to let the matter drop.

Now, a new investigative report from the Charlotte News Observer has shone a little more light on the subject. And what that light revealed was not pretty.

Julius Nyang’oro, the former UNC African studies chairman at the heart of an academic fraud scandal, had a cozy relationship with the program that tutored athletes, according to newly released emails.

Members of the academic support staff offered Nyang’oro football tickets and the chance to watch a game from the sidelines. One counselor offered to discuss athletes’ coursework over drinks, and another negotiated with Nyang’oro to schedule a no-show class.

And why are we just learning this now? The News & Observer reports that a public records request filed nearly a year ago was just honored this month. Some of the email exchanges sound really bad, though the author of the article notes that the bantering context could imply humorous intent.

Still, this kind of thing is a bombshell:

In one email from September 2009, Cynthia Reynolds, a former associate director who oversaw academic support for football players, told Nyang’oro in an email that “I hear you are doing me a big favor this semester and that I should be bringing you lots of gifts and cash???????”

It will take a little time to digest all of the implications of this latest evidence, but you can bet it will re-ignite interest in the relationship between athletics and academics at one of the nation’s blue blood hoops schools.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

  1. lundy337 - Jun 9, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    I’m surprised at the silence on this board so far. Where are all the tar holers in fanatical defense?

    Let me start with the usual responses;
    1. This is a football / academic issue.
    2. This is nothing new, rehashed info to keep dragging the hallowed institution through the mud, move along, in the past…
    3. Everybody does it.
    4. You didn’t get into unc, your academics aren’t as good, therefore you’re jealous, you suck.

    Now when will the NCAA grow a pair and do what needs to be done?
    I mean it’s not like one of their main players was arrested without a drivers license in a rented SUV, (paid for by whom) with a gun and drugs? Oh wait…

    • krissya1a - Jun 11, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      Only because I just found the site. I am a rabid TarHeel fan and alumni and if this is proven then it should be rip out by the roots and remedial processes put into place.

      That being said perhaps there is a another story that we should be talking about which includes my school as well as all the rest. The fallacy of the “student-athlete” Whether we are talking college football, basketball or any of the other major sports we are discussing what we are really talking about is “big business”. All of these schools make big money off of these kids and yet give them a scholarship? Please that’s like Lebraun playing for minimum wage. We like to kid ourselves that these athletes are here to learn when in fact most of them use college as a farm team for the NBA, NFL, MBL…etc.

      Where else in this country are people asked to work for nothing. Sorry but this is the overarching issue in college athletics that simply must be addressed. The schools make the big bucks and the kids take the risks of major injury and the end of any future as a professional, that simply put is a joke.

      • bqblog - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:17 AM

        Most of these players don’t go to the pros so the scholarship is pretty valuable from a life time earnings standpoint. On top of that you are discounting is the value of the coaching, facilities, and exposure that these players are receiving. They are receiving more than six figures worth of services and education in exchange for playing a game.

        While I can agree that the very few top of the talent pool players in basketball could benefit by making the jump to the NCAA, this is not true for football. Football players receive top of the line training and are much more valuable when they leave college than when they enter. So NFL level players are actually being trained for their future employment. Yes, athletic departments make tons of money on sports, but they reinvest that money into better facilities and coaches for the athletes. I don’t really see how they are taking advantage of these kids when you count all that athletes receive.

  2. japanklub - Jun 9, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    Nothing to see hear…Keep moving…

    UNC final four 2013

    • satcheluk - Jun 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      I see you benefited from the same rigorous academic standards.

  3. minibull - Jun 9, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    I’m not a UNC fan or hater, but to me, if the alleged academic fraud actually occurred at UNC, they should be hit harder than USC, Miami, and OSU combined. Isn’t academics at the heart of the NCAA? Or do they just pay lip service to that part of their name?

    • Anoesis - Jun 10, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      National Collegiate Athletic Association does not have “academics” anywhere in its name so, no, they don’t pay lip service to something we all know they don’t care about. It’s a business, one designed to make big bucks off the backs of “students” who are only compensated with an “education” that is often way over-priced to begin with.

      To attend a for-profit university you are either A) a child of well-off or wealthy parents; B) intelligent and/or lucky enough to land financial assistance; C) athletic enough to be awarded a scholarship; or D) willing to take on crushing financial debt for years after graduation.

      Grades do matter (high school, junior college) in A, B, and D, but all bets are off regarding C when the potential for millions of dollars in income for the school trumps any sort of illusion of “academics.” No school is immune to the lure of money, but some do a better job of either resisting it or hiding it than others.

      • djokinme - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:31 PM

        a) You claim the NCAA doesn’t pay lip service to something we all know they don’t care about (academics), which isn’t true. They may not have “academics” in their name, but, per the NCAA mission statement… “Our purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.”

        You can argue about the role of the NCAA or their true motivations, but to say they don’t pay any lip service to academic excellence is not true.

        b) I think you’re a bit confused about what a “for profit” university is. UNC is not a for profit university.. university of Phoenix is.

  4. satcheluk - Jun 10, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    I’m pretty sure there are no “for profit universities” in the NCAA, unless maybe the University of Phoenix or DeVry have teams I am unaware of.

  5. kingghidora - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Trust me when I say this. The NCAA will sweep this under a rug. They always do when it comes to the Tobacco Road schools. It’s a farce of a system. Kentucky would have received the death penalty by now. We constantly hear how UK cheats but when actual proof pops up it’s always about someone else. There has been ZERO evidence UK has done anything wrong since the early 50’s and then it was players doing it on their own. But I bet I’ve seen remarks about Cal cheating 5000 times. The truth is UNC CHEATS!!!!!!!!!! It’s obvious as it gets. But like Corey Maggette who took money from an agent and admitted it nothing will be done. Like Josh Selby very little might be done. But you can bet it won’t be like Enes Kanter where the hammer came down despite him always doing exactly what the NCAA told him he should do. Ohio St. has had so many mulligans I couldn’t count them. Players getting shopped around for $180K. Nothing happens. UK gets accused of not having players go to class despite having one of the best academic records in all of college sports. Cal gets bashed for things he had absolutely no control over. They even bash him for things he turned in knowing it would cost him a final 4 appearance.

    But like things have always been, the ACC skates on everything. I actually loved it when Duke got falsely accused of the Lacrosse team doing horrible things. That’s how it feels to be a UK fan ALL THE TIME. But Duke fans don’t remember that. They go right back to bashing UK when the fact is that Corey Maggette should have cost them voided seasons. Now UNC is looking at losing mulitiple NCAA titles. Ha! It will never happen because they bring in a lot of money.

    You people couldn’t carry UK’s jock when it comes to morals. You’re the dirtiest program I ever heard of Tar Heels. That’s saying a lot and I’m not the only one that has said that. CBS Sports writer Gregg Doyel said, “There are some banners at the Smith Center that need to come down.” He also called it maybe the ugliest academic scandal in NCAA history. But since he said that NOTHING has been done. They pretty much had it buried until today. They will never hold UNC accountable. I’m still waiting for the to take down the banners at UCLA for the role Sam Gilbert played in that dynasty. The NCAA is dirty from top to bottom. They push for the big money teams to win and for the tradition rich schools (like UK) to not only fail but to get banned completely.

    I’m shocked so many people watch it without barfing, I really am. It’s worse than boxing. It’s worse than pro wrestling.

    You might get to slide Tar Holes but we know who the real cheaters are, don’t we? You dirty slimebuckets.

    • idgaf4u - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      Your day will come too kentucky. ALL universities cheat in some form…yes, even you duke!

      • kingghidora - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:49 PM

        Boy this is rich. You bash me for telling the TRUTH when every word can be backed up with FACTS. You blast Doyel for not stated reason but we’re supposed to take your word for it that he’s lying. How typical of a UNC fan. Even when confronted with a mountain of evidence of UNC being horrendously dirty you blast Kentucky for being dirty. I can’t top that. Thanks for the laughs. Who needs Leno when we have Tar Hole fans to laugh at.

        This isn’t going away apparently. You’re going to lose TWO national championships. I’ll be LMAO when it happens because no one deserves it more than you. Your program cheated like crazy. You wouldn’t have won without cheating like that. There is EVIDENCE and you ignore it. You can’t make this stuff up. You are probably paid by the Tar Holes to go on boards and defend the indefensible. No one is as stupid as you pretend to be here.

        The governor wants a chunk of the Tar Holes you know. I think I’ll write him an email and point out what your team is doing for the reputation of your state. I know he doesn’t like it one bit. Hearing from me might be just the push he needs to give YOU the death penalty like you’ve been wishing on UK for 70 years. Won’t that be fun? I certainly think so.

        Face it. They CHEAT big time. You voted against me here. Seriously no one could make this up. If a mountain fell on you you’d swear it was just a little bit of dust. That attitude just makes you look even worse. LOLOL Stick that in your tar hole.

    • protectthishouse54 - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      You’re living in a fantasy land if you think your school is immune. And quoting a total tool like Gregg Doyel is not going to help your case.

    • kevinfederlane - Jun 11, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      That is all you Kensucky fans do is cry. Cry cry cry.

  6. coach1959 - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Note to kingghidora: I agree with most of what you say; however, you demean yourself (and lose credibility) via the filthy language you are using. The same message with respectful use of verbiage will get more readers to appreciate what you are saying.

    • satcheluk - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      Agreed. And I’m a UK grad.

  7. kingghidora - Jun 11, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    Filthy language? You seem to interpret things in a way they were never meant to be interpreted. I think you’re the ones with the dirty minds. And these people are never going to accept that UNC cheated. They just don’t do that. They have already swept the whole ordeal under the rug once Did you miss that? I suppose that was my fault. They all knew a year later I was going to insult them.

    Do you know how often these people insult us? Try going to NC some day. It’s not a pleasant place to be in many areas. I’ve been there. I’ve had people insult me for a pastime when I had absolutely no contact with them prior to their insult. They bashed me for looking at a car I liked. Yeah tell me all about how they are reasonable people. They aren’t. Notice too how they have swept P.J. Hairston’s impaired driving under the rug too. They all say “it’s just pot”. Wrong! It’s just driving while intoxicated. They also make up all sorts of excuses for the gun when they clearly don’t know the actual facts. I don’t either and I don’t act like I do. But I do know how they act about the fake classes. They act like it didn’t happen. Yeah that’s a bunch of people you can reason with. The university promotes the idea that those fake classes didn’t happen. Do you expect the fans to act differently?

    IMO they deserve some of the treatment they dish out constantly. Do you know what awful things get chanted in ACC venues? Yeah they’re reasonable alright. As reasonable as a punch in the nose.

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