One of the highest-ranking officials at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has gone on record with a deep and formal apology for the school’s flagrant, longstanding scam that allowed student-athletes to take essentially phony courses — and sometimes actually phony classes that never even met.
“We made mistakes. Horrible things happened that I’m ashamed of,” James Dean, UNC’s executive vice chancellor and provost, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “The integrity of our university was badly damaged.”
Dean’s abject apology comes a couple years after a 2012 investigation found that the prestigious, public, taxpayer-funded school systematically allowed student-athletes to take super-easy courses in the school’s African and Afro-American Studies Department for years.
Large clusters of football players, basketball players, wrestlers and other athletes took these non-college-level courses for credit. They rarely had to attend classes. They didn’t have to take tests. They each merely had to submit a single, superfluous paper in exchange for top-notch grades.
Investigators discovered that over 200 UNC classes appeared to be part of the fraud over a period of 15 years, the Daily Mail reports.
The fall guys for the scandal were Julius Nyang’oro, the former chairman of the Afro-American Studies Department, and Deborah Crowder, an administrator. Neither is employed by the school any longer. Nyang’oro was indicted on criminal fraud charges in December 2013.
Investigators would not blame the UNC athletic department as a whole, apparently because of the remote possibility that, at a school offering thousands of courses, hundreds of athletes football players and other athletes just happened to find their way to the fraudulently easy courses on a consistent basis for 15 years.
Dean’s apology also comes just a couple weeks after he got up in front of a faculty meeting and criticized the research of UNC researcher Mary Willingham showing that some jocks at the celebrated school only read at elementary or junior-high reading levels.
Amazingly, UNC have since responded to Willingham’s research by chastising her and suspending her research on the technicality that researchers must protect the identities of research subjects, notes The News & Observer.
As the Mail points out, the point of allowing the athletes to take the super-easy (or nonexistent) courses was to help them focus on the revenue-generating sports they were playing.