The chairman of the board of trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill said Sunday that the revelation of a summer class packed last year with football players who received grades without instruction is troubling in the extreme.
Wade Hargrove, chairman since last summer, said the new information about the class raises questions that still need answering.
Among them are documenting how the class was created and how the football players knew to enroll within days after it opened for registration. Eighteen members of the team and one former player enrolled in the class.
UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp, in a letter delivered to trustees late Thursday, said the university is seeking more information.
The News & Observer detailed information about the class in a report Saturday after receiving university documents through a public records request.
The records show that the class was created for the summer session last year and was taught by professor and former department chairman Julius Nyangoro, who is under scrutiny for his involvement in dozens of classes in which there was little or no instruction offered to students.
On June 14 last year, Nyangoro took steps to add the course, AFAM 280: Blacks in North Carolina, to the summer schedule. It was opened for registration on June 16, the first day of the summer session, records show. Within four days, the football players had filled it.
I am totally taken by surprise! Nyangoro wrote to the summer school dean, without mentioning the makeup of the class. An email message he wrote around that time said the class was going to be for five students.
Nyangoro was supposed to teach the class as a lecture, but instead treated it as an independent study course. The students wrote a 15-page paper to receive a grade.
Records show academic support staff for student-athletes at the university helped the football players register for the class and were aware of how Nyangoro would handle the course.
Hargrove said Sunday that the class and other questioned independent study courses in the department do not amount to a rigorous academic experience that every student at UNC-Chapel Hill should receive.
And it only adds to revelations over the past year, one in which the university was sanctioned by the NCAA, that are troubling and distressing, he said.
You cant love Carolina and not be heartbroken, Hargrove said.
Last year, after football player Michael McAdoo was shown to have plagiarized a paper in a class listed under Nyangoros name, Thorp said he did not intend to question the professor about it and said the matter was resolved.
Weve done a very thorough investigation on the academic side, Thorp said last summer.
A month later, The N&O obtained a partial transcript showing that football star Marvin Austin had taken an advanced, 400-level class under Nyangoro when he first arrived on campus. Austin later enrolled in a basic writing class, records show.
University officials launched another internal review and notified the NCAA of the swirl of questions.
A subsequent university report said no athletes had received favorable treatment in Nyangoros department.
But that report, issued last month, also detailed irregularities in the department and in classes under Nyangoro.
It was announced then that Nyangoro would retire, effective July 1. Thorp called the review thorough and diligent.
The N&O then sought records about payments to Nyangoro for his summer classes, and they showed that the professor received $12,000 for the lecture class that he handled instead as an independent study.
Officials said they would review the matter. A criminal probe began.
On Thursday, Thorp said the university now will take back that money from Nyangoro, who has not commented.
Hargrove said Sunday that Thorps handling of the ongoing crisis at UNC-Chapel Hill is not in question.
The universitys trustees support Thorp, he said, without elaborating.