A controversial finding in the academic fraud report by former Gov. Jim Martin and the management consulting firm Baker Tilly that helped absolve athletics officials from wrongdoing was dropped Friday when a partner for the firm said the evidence did not substantiate what the report said.
The report said athletics officials and academic support officials for athletes had twice raised concerns in 2002 and 2006 to the Faculty Committee on Athletics “about students taking nominally lecture courses that did not meet and only required a 20-page term paper, and other forms of questionable independent study.”
The report said the faculty on the committee “dismissed” those concerns “with reassurances that instructors had wide latitude how to teach a course.” The finding was significant because it indicated that athletics officials had tried to fix what later became known as part of an academic scandal.
Martin had been steadfast in this contention, to the point of writing a letter to The News & Observer after it published a news story that questioned the finding.
Lissa Broome, a law professor and the university’s current faculty NCAA representative, had told the N&O she had no memory of such concerns being raised. She told a UNC Board of Governors panel Friday that she met with several of her colleagues on the committee, and none of them remembered athletics or academic support officials raising a concern about lecture courses that didn’t meet, or inordinately high enrollments of athletes in independent study courses.
Raina Rose Tagle of Baker Tilly told the panel that she wanted to “clarify” that finding. She said the athletics officials “asked a question not necessarily of the faculty athletic committee as a whole but sort of offline.”
The original finding caused consternation among faculty because it suggested they had allowed a scandal to flourish under the guise of academic freedom. One of the faculty on the committee, History Department Chairman Lloyd Kramer, was seeking a Faculty Council resolution that would dispute the finding.
Tagle agreed the finding should be removed from the report. Panel members did not criticize the flaw.
“I don’t think in any way it disqualifies the report in my mind,” panel chairman Louis Bissette said.