UNC's Roy Williams on AFAM controversy: It’s not a basketball issue

acarter@newsobserver.comJune 14, 2012 

— North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he has been saddened by academic improprieties that occurred within the African and Afro-American Studies department at North Carolina. But, Williams said on Thursday, “I strongly feel that that’s not a basketball issue.”

An internal investigation at UNC uncovered numerous academic improprieties in more than 50 courses in the AFAM department between 2007 and 2011. Some classes featured unauthorized grade changes, the investigation found, and other in instances classes provided little to no instruction.

Among the students enrolled in the classes were a high percentage of athletes, according to documents The News & Observer obtained through public records requests. In the 54 courses that the university found to be “aberrant and irregular,” 58 percent of the students were athletes.

More than 35 percent (246) of 686 students in those classes were football players, while 3.4 percent (23) were men’s basketball players. UNC has maintained that students completed coursework in the classes, and the university’s investigation did not find that athletes received preferential treatment in the suspect courses.

One of the suspect courses featured 19 students, all of whom were football players. A single men's basketball player, meanwhile, comprised the entire enrollment of two other suspect classes.

“I’m concerned about it because going all the way back to the NCAA stuff, I’ve said the same thing consistently – it’s a very sad time, OK,” Williams said. “But I strongly feel that that’s not a basketball issue. I’m in charge of the basketball program as much the chancellor and the athletic director allow me to be. And it’s not a basketball issue.”

Williams said a given coach’s awareness of his players’ class schedule varies. But, Williams said, he is aware of the classes that his players take.

“I think it varies on a coach,” he said. “I mean, I’m pretty aware of what our guys are doing. And it’s not a basketball issue, guys. It is not a basketball issue. It’s a university issue.”

Still, Williams said he would continue to follow the investigation into the African and Afro-American Studies department.

“Regardless of what comes out, am I going to be interested? You’re darn right,” he said. “Am I going to be sad if some negative thing comes out? You’re darn right. But … am I worried about it? I’m worried about it from a university issue, but not from a basketball issue.”

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