Education

Former UNC counselor for athletes is no longer employed at UNC Wilmington

Beth Bridger, who used to oversee academic support for UNC football, was “separated” from UNC Wilmington on Wednesday, the university confirmed.

She had started as an academic counselor in athletics at UNCW in January of this year. The separation occurred during Bridger’s probationary period, said UNCW spokeswoman Janine Iamunno.

UNCW did not specify the reason for Bridger’s separation, except to say it was a personnel matter. It occurred on the same day as the release of the Wainstein report, which detailed nearly 20 years of fraudulent classes disproportionately populated by UNC athletes.

Bridger had worked in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes for seven years beginning in 2006. She was hired as a learning specialist and later became associate director, overseeing the football counseling staff.

She was one of 126 people interviewed by the team of investigators headed by Kenneth Wainstein, a former federal prosecutor.

In Wainstein’s report, Bridger said she learned about the so-called “paper classes” in African and Afro-American Studies, in which classes were not held and students were only responsible for a final paper. Bridger told the investigators that the counseling staff would call the AFAM department each term to find out which paper classes would be offered. Then, the counselors would facilitate athletes’ completion of the papers during study hall, she said. While she knew the papers were turned into Deborah Crowder, the department manager, Bridger said she “did not concern herself with whether Crowder was grading the papers.”

Wainstein’s report said Crowder was the mastermind behind a “shadow” curriculum in which more than 3,100 students and student athletes received good grades for classes that didn’t meet and had not faculty involvement.

UNC-CH officials said Wednesday they were taking steps to fire four employees and launch disciplinary review of five others. They have declined to name the nine employees, citing personnel privacy law. However, that law does allow the disclosure of a personnel matter in cases in which an institution’s integrity is at stake.

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