In July 2010, the NCAA launched an investigation that led to sanctions against the UNC-Chapel Hill football program. The probe helped uncover financial ties between a sports agent and UNCs top assistant coach, as well as improper academic help provided by a tutor and a range of gifts that were offered and accepted by football players.
The NCAA leveled its formal allegations against UNC in June 2011. The case led to a loss of scholarships and other penalties through a process that was finalized early in 2013.
But the investigation failed to catch an even bigger scandal: UNCs African studies department chairman and his assistant had created dozens of classes that were supposed to be lecture-style, but never met. Among multiple inquiries was one led by an auditing and consulting firm with former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin focusing on the African studies department.
• July 2011: Court documents filed by Michael McAdoo, a player seeking to restore his eligibility, make clear that he plagiarized a paper in a 2009 Swahili class, which was listed as being taught by Julius Nyangoro, the chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies. Nyangoro later tells UNC he didnt teach the class.
• Aug. 21, 2011: N&O obtains and reports on an academic transcript of former star football player Marvin Austin that shows he started his college career in the summer of 2007 with a 400-level African studies class and received a B-plus. Austins SAT scores required remedial writing, which he took later. The 400-level class was also listed as being taught by Nyangoro.
• Aug. 27, 2011: N&O reports on a sports agent who was hired by Nyangoro to teach a summer 2011 class. The agent is a former academic counselor to UNC athletes and a college professor in Texas.
• September 2011: UNC announces Nyangoros resignation as African studies department chairman and says it is reviewing possible irregularities with courses in the African studies department. The timeframe of the review is from the Austin class in the summer of 2007 through summer 2011. NCAA is notified of new issues with student-athletes.
• November 2011: UNC says it filed a report with its Public Safety department related to unauthorized signatures on grade rolls and grade change forms. UNC says Orange County district attorney and State Bureau of Investigation determined that activities while unethical ... did not rise to criminal liability.
• February 2012: UNC says a review of independent study courses in College of Arts and Sciences shows no significant problems beyond African studies department.
• March 2012: NCAA issues formal sanctions against football program from agent-driven probe that also uncovered improper tutor help, which had concluded in June 2011.
• May 2012: UNC releases faculty-led report that shows problems in more than 50 African studies classes, a finding Chancellor Holden Thorp says is surprising and shocking. The suspect classes include nine in which there was no evidence that a professor taught a course, with forged signatures on submitted grade rolls. In more than 40 other courses, there was little evidence of classroom teaching or other instructional contact, according to the review, though the courses were supposed to be lecture classes. Implicated along with Nyangoro is longtime administrator Deborah Crowder. The report also found a strikingly high percentage of cases in Nyangoros classes in which temporary grades were converted to permanent ones. UNC says the matter is not an athletics issue, but an academic one. The SBI begins a criminal probe of the African studies department.
• June 8, 2012: N&O reports that a majority of the enrollments in the nine most suspect classes were football or basketball players, highlighting one African studies summer class in 2011 that filled up within four days of its creation with 18 football players and one other student. UNC Board of Governors forms a panel to review universitys work. Later information shows that nearly two-thirds of the enrollments were athletes or former athletes.
• July 1, 2012: Nyangoro retires and $12,000 is withheld from final paycheck tied to the summer 2011 class he had not taught.
July 8, 2012: N&O reports that athletes made up a majority of enrollments in the more than 40 no-show classes. UNC says academic problems do not mean NCAA rules were violated.
• July 26, 2012: Faculty report calls for an outside review of academics and athletics at UNC on findings of a campus with two cultures.
• Aug. 11, 2012: N&O reports on a transcript, confirmed within days as belonging to former star player Julius Peppers, that shows mostly poor grades but significant help from the African studies department. The transcript shows that Peppers was in danger of being ineligible, but that several high grades in African studies classes kept him in action. The transcript covers classes held more than a decade ago. The classes were the same ones later identified as being suspect ones in the 2007 to 2011 timeframe.
• Aug. 15, 2012: UNC appoints former Gov. Jim Martin and a management consulting and auditing firm to examine classes in African studies in the years before 2007 for similar patterns indicating additional irregularly or aberrantly taught courses, if any.
• Aug. 16, 2012: Thorp announces that UNC will study its balance of athletics and academics on campus, with that work to take place in 2013. He also says the academic support program for athletes has been restructured and will seek a new director. The athletics department says it has hired two senior administrators to help with oversight.
• Sept. 12, 2012: N&O reports that chief university fundraiser Matt Kupec has resigned amid questions about personally driven travel with Tami Hansbrough, a gifts officer and mother of former star basketball player Tyler Hansbrough. UNC refuses to release any documents.
• Sept. 13, 2012: N&O reports that Tami Hansbroughs job was created and funded by Kupec, who had been stopped from directly hiring her by Thorp. Thorp approved the subsequent arrangement, and records later show that Thorp had traveled with the two.
• Sept. 17, 2012: Thorp announces he will resign, effective at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.
• Sept. 30, 2012: Records and documents show freshmen football players were enrolled in an upper-level African studies class, received intense help with their school work from academic support personnel, and that many could not read or write at a college level. The records suggest another African studies professor was aware of no-show classes for struggling athletes. The records show a heavily plagiarized paper by a current member of the football team. UNC says the documents, obtained by the N&O, were forwarded to Martin.
• Oct. 3, 2012: Thorp says information about a Naval Weapons Systems class from 2007 has been forwarded to Martin. Documents show six basketball players took the class on advice from an academic counselor assigned to the basketball team. The class was taught differently than ones before it and since, with papers and a presentation necessary for grading, instead of written tests and exams.
• Oct. 11, 2012: The interim director of the academic support program tells a Board of Governors panel that some efforts by tutors and others over the years to help players with school work amounted to overhelp.
• Oct. 21, 2012: N&O reports on more examples of plagiarism by football players, including one who submitted work that resembles that of four 11-year-olds from a Web site. A UNC athletics spokesman says athletes do the right thing in life and at school an overwhelming amount of the time.
• Nov. 18, 2012: Mary Willingham, a university employee who worked in the athlete support program, tells the N&O that the system set up to keep athletes eligible provided improper help and tolerated plagiarism. She says UNC is admitting athletes who are unable to do college work.
• Dec. 9, 2012: N&O reports that documents and interviews suggest some faculty and athletic officials were aware of higher-than-expected independent study enrollments by athletes in the African studies department as early as mid-2006, just as Auburn University dealt with an independent study scandal. But the concerns did not reach top academic officials. Independent study enrollments subsequently plummeted, particularly for the basketball team.
• Dec. 20, 2012: Martin releases report finding more than 200 lecture-style classes that were confirmed or suspected of having never met, dozens of independent studies with little or no supervision and 560 suspicious grade changes that date as far back as 1994. But Martin said the scandal was not about athletics. He contends athletics officials raised questions about the no-show classes, only to be told by a faculty athletics committee not to question how a professor teaches a class.
• Dec. 29, 2012: The N&O reports that there's little evidence to back athletics officials' claims that they raised questions about no-show classes. Numerous faculty members on the committee say they can recall no such discussion, or deny it ever took place.
• Jan. 25, 2013: Raina Rose Tagle, a Baker Tilly partner, appearing before a special panel of the UNC system Board of Governors, backs away from the finding that athletic officials had raised questions about no-show classes. She tells the panel that athletic officials asked a question not necessarily of the faculty athletic committee as a whole but sort of offline.
• Feb. 7, 2013: The UNC system Board of Governors' special panel releases its report, largely accepting the findings of Gov. Martin and Baker Tilly. The panel's report is met with criticism by some BOG members, particularly former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell, who says the investigations did not interview enough people or take up obvious lines of inquiry. He disputes that the fraud was not about athletics when athletes accounted for 45 percent of the enrollments in the no-show classes over a 10-year period, while representing less than 5 percent of the undergraduate student body.
• Feb. 18, 2013: UNC announces that Chancellor Thorp is leaving at the end of the academic year to become the provost at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. The move surprises faculty and students.
• Feb. 27, 2013: UNC officials confirm that administrators are performing visual inspections of classes across campus to make sure they are taking place. The spot checks are part of the university's efforts to assure the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits UNC, that there is no need for a sanction in the wake of the academic fraud.
• June 8, 2013: Email correspondence released nearly a year after an N&O request shows that Nyang'oro had a cozy relationship with the academic support program for athletes. The emails showed that tutoring staff had offered Nyang'oro football tickets and one counselor negotiated with him to schedule a no-show class. UNC officials would not be specific as to whether the correspondence had been provided to investigators looking into the fraud.
• June 20, 2013: The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools opts to monitor UNC for a year instead of imposing a sanction. The university agrees to provide free classes to students and alumni who were in 39 classes confirmed to have never met. Spot checks of classes will also continue.
July 20, 2013: The N&O reports that UNC correspondence shows faculty leader Jan Boxill succeeded in getting a last-minute revision to a faculty executive committee report that removed a concern that Crowder's "extremely close" ties to athletics might have caused her to help enroll athletes in no-show classes. Boxill, a former academic counselor for athletes, told the report's authors the concern "could further raise NCAA issues and that is not the intention." She later said she was not trying to water down the report, but remove "innuendos."
• Nov. 8, 2013: The N&O reports that UNC correspondence with the NCAA shows it would not likely pursue violations related to the academic fraud case.
Dec. 2, 2013: Nyang'oro is indicted by an Orange County grand jury on a felony charge of obtaining property through false pretenses. The charge involves the $12,000 in summer pay Nyang'oro received to teach the summer 2011 class that was filled with 18 football players and a former football player. The class never met.
Sources: UNC-Chapel Hill, NCAA, UNC Board of Governors, News & Observer reporting