UNC records show some unauthorized help

dkane@newsobserver.comJuly 18, 2012 

One football player turned in a paper largely copied from another athlete at UNC-Chapel Hill, and appeared to have other students who were not athletes providing or padding other written assignments. Another emailed a friend the beginnings of a 10-page paper, who then sent him back a completed paper with the comment, “I got you to 10 pages.”

And at least two football players confirmed that they and others met with someone – believed to be a former tutor who was a central figure in an NCAA investigation – the evening before they were to be interviewed as part of the probe. None said they were there to try to get their stories straight, but one acknowledged making an incorrect statement claiming that he had not seen the tutor the previous evening.

These are details that emerge from roughly 200 pages of heavily redacted documents that UNC-Chapel Hill officials turned over in recent days. The documents have been purged of names, email addresses, what year the class work took place and other details. Also not included are the assignments, either the drafts that often ended up on someone else’s computer or the final version often sent back to the football players.

The documents are listed as “Academic Statement of Facts” and “situation” reports that either identify potential misconduct or ask the NCAA whether such conduct might result in a violation. The redactions and lack of other information make it unclear how much of what is in the reports turned out to be NCAA violations, or how those facts affected the football players under investigation.

They do quote email correspondence and snippets of interviews with investigators. In one example, email correspondence showed someone believed to be a tutor was struggling to fulfill an athlete’s written assignment: “(I)t’s 2 pages but I can’t expand anymore. I already feel like I am being redundant. I’m sorry but it’s better than nothing.”

Asked whether he did the work on that paper, the football player told investigators: “Not really I guess.” He later said he didn’t remember what he did, then denied that the tutor wrote the paper for him.

In March, the NCAA hit the football team with a one-year bowl ban and the loss of scholarships. It found that a former tutor, known to be Jennifer Wiley, provided impermissible free academic help to 11 football players, and committed academic fraud involving three football players by constructing significant parts of writing assignments for them. Wiley refused to be interviewed by investigators and has declined media requests for interviews.

“The former tutor wrote conclusive paragraphs for papers, revised drafts, composed ‘works-cited’ pages, researched and edited content and inserted citations, among other violations,” the NCAA’s report said. It makes no mention of other cases in which someone other than a tutor did a football player’s academic work.

University officials could not be reached for comment about the newly released records. Officials have taken several steps in the wake of the NCAA probe to try to ensure that student athletes aren’t cheating.

Kane: 919-829-4861

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