How Julius Peppers’ transcript was exposed

August 31, 2012 

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp on Thursday explained how former UNC football and basketball player Julius Peppers’ academic transcript was exposed on the Internet.

Appearing before a UNC Board of Governors review committee looking into the university’s handling of academic fraud, Thorp said he had apologized to Peppers for the lapse.

Thorp said the issue dated back to 2001, when a staff member created a test record, using Peppers’ transcript with personal information removed. The original transcript was saved on a secure server, Thorp said, and a second staff member mistakenly moved that file to an unsecured directory during a technology migration in 2007.

The first unidentified staff member has been disciplined, Thorp said, but the university would not disclose the nature of the punishment. The second staff member left the university previously.

Thorp said the exposure of a former student’s private grade records was “extremely troubling.”

“We greatly regret this incident, and we have apologized to Mr. Peppers,” Thorp said.

University officials initially dismissed the 2001 transcript as a fake test document when recently questioned about it by The News & Observer. Later, Wolfpack fans from N.C. State University found a nearly identical transcript bearing Peppers’ name in an obscure related address. They immediately posted it on a fan bulletin board.

On Thursday, Larry Conrad, a vice chancellor who heads information technology at the university, issued a statement that said of the document: “It was discovered on the unsecured server through a sequence of targeted searches that ultimately yielded the URL of the transcript. The University has long since changed the protocol for how test student records are set up.”

The emergence of Peppers’ transcript added more evidence that UNC-CH’s African and Afro-American studies department operated in ways to allow athletes to remain academically eligible. The transcript showed a 1.82 grade point average and 11 grades of D or F in various subjects, along with much higher grades in African studies.

Thorp did not comment on the lack of rigor in Peppers’ schedule, but said his main interest going forward is that “all of our students get the high quality educational experience they should expect at Carolina.”

Peppers is now a defensive end for the Chicago Bears.

Staff writer Jane Stancill

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