Chapel Hill News

UNC academic fraud report to be released Wednesday

A highly-anticipated report into the long standing academic fraud at UNC-Chapel Hill is scheduled to be released Wednesday at a special meeting of UNC officials, the university said Monday.

A meeting notice that appeared on UNC-CH’s website today said attorney Kenneth Wainstein would meet with the university’s board of trustees and the UNC Board of Governors at 10:30 a.m. in the Kenan Center.

“Some portions of the meeting will take place in closed session, pursuant to the North Carolina Open Meetings Law,” the notice said. “Following the special meeting, Mr. Wainstein will publicly present his findings during a press conference.”

The notice also said that UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt and UNC system President Tom Ross will answer questions at the conference. Folt will later discuss the report with students, staff and faculty at a “town hall” meeting at 5 p.m. in Room G200 of the Genome Sciences Building.

“The last few years have been difficult for our community,” Folt said in an announcement of the town hall meeting. “I believe this report will allow us to have a complete picture of what happened at Carolina and build on the numerous reforms we have already put in place.”

The report is the result of eight months of interviews and records analysis by a group of attorneys led by Wainstein, a former top U.S. Justice Department official now in private practice in Washington. It is the university’s third effort at getting to the bottom of a scandal that stretches back into the 1990s and involves scores of lecture-style classes that never met. Instead, students were typically told to write papers and turn them in at the end. The grades were often high.

Athlete enrollments in the classes were disproportionately high, and other evidence shows some athletes each took several classes. But the two prior investigations have said the fraud was not an athletic scandal because nonathletes were also in the classes and received the same high grades.

In June, Wainstein told the UNC Board of Governors his investigation by then had already interviewed more than 80 people and had gathered up more than 1.5 million documents for review. He said his probe is looking at academic records that reach back into the 1980s.

So far, the fraud has been blamed on two people, Julius Nyang’oro, the former chairman of UNC-CH’s African and Afro-American Studies Department, and his former longtime department manager, Deborah Crowder. Nyang’oro was forced to retire in 2012, while Crowder retired in 2009. Both are cooperating with Wainstein’s investigation.

UNC-CH is paying for the investigation from sources other than taxpayer funds. Wainstein said his investigation is not being shared with university or UNC system officials until it is completed.

The report is being released as the NCAA is taking a second look at the academic fraud case. It had said two years ago the fraud had not triggered any violations of NCAA policies.