An Orange County District Attorney may drop the fraud charge against said Julius Nyang’oro, the former department chairman in the middle of the football scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Jim Woodall said he’s taking dropping the felony charge into “serious consideration,” Chapel Hill News reports.
“It appears that Nyang’oro has cooperated fully with them and actually, I think, maybe gone over and above what was expected from him,” Woodall said. “So I am going to seriously consider dismissing his charge based on his cooperation.”
Nyang’oro has already been charged for one felony in December for accepting $12,000 for a summer class he did not teach. His class, “AFAM 280: Blacks in North Carolina,” never met, and he was charged for a low-level felony with no prison time.
The scandal currently being investigated goes back to the 1990s, but Woodall might base his decision just on Nyang’oro’s “cooperation” in the investigation of his felony.
Earlier this year, UNC learning specialist Mary Willingham came out with data proving academic fraud including no-show classes, grade changes and unsupervised independent study courses. Former football player Michael McAdoo has said that his counselors pushed him to sign up for four no-show and independent studies classes to boost his GPA.
These frauds were mainly within the African and Afro-American Studies department, and department chairman Nyang’oro and his assistant Deborah Crowder are currently being investigated.
Athletes make up only five percent of the college’s population but account for almost 50 percent of these academic dishonesties. UNC Provost Jim Dean said that because half of the students involved were not athletes, these classes and grade changes were not made as an athletic motive.
However, Willingham believes the athletes were the motivation behind the fraud. She has collected data on 183 academically challenged athletes since 2004. 60 percent of these read between a fourth and eighth grade reading level, 10 percent read below a third grade reading level and one student on the men’s basketball team can’t read or write at all. Eighty-five percent of those athletes were on the men’s football and basketball teams.
Kenneth Wainstein, a former top U.S. Justice Department official and Homeland Security adviser, was hired in February and has been investigating the records. He said he won’t be finished looking into records until at least the fall. Wainstein has confirmed Nyang’oro’s cooperation, but he has not said how his cooperation is helping the investigation. WRAL reports that Wainstein and Nyang’oro have met at least three times.
If Woodall decides to drop the charges, it would eliminate the possibility of a criminal trial. Despite the felony Nyang’oro already has under his belt, Woodall said Nyang’oro has a clean record and believes “what he has done to help with the investigation is simply more important than putting a man on probation.”
Woodall said, “I think he has provided Wainstein with what he considers real critical information in his investigation that he could not get from anybody else in a case where, frankly, the money’s been paid back.”