An unusual B-plus grade on a football player's transcript has unearthed an academic fraud scandal involving athletics at UNC-Chapel Hill. That grade ultimately pointed to nearly 190 lecture-style classes that never met from 1999 to 2011, as well as hundreds of bogus independent studies that had no instructor and date back to 1993.
All of this happened within the Department of African and Afro-American Studies and was largely the work of the department manager, Deborah Crowder, and to a lesser extent, department chairman Julius Nyang'oro.
A new report by a former top U.S. Justice Department official found that keeping athletes eligible was at the heart of the scheme. Nearly half the students enrolled were athletes, with some football and basketball players relying heavily on these "GPA booster" classes. Even a professor who later became UNC's faculty leader steered athletes to the classes.