There were over fifty cases of academic fraud in the African American studies department from 2007-2009. There were no-show classes. Students got grades for doing almost no work. The bent courses were stuffed with football players. The N&O has reported that former dual-sport star Julius Peppers was involved, which would indicate that the fraud would have been ongoing for at least a decade.
And this was not the work of an isolated individual. The so-called professor at the center of the scandal is named Julius Nyang’oro. His title until the story came out? Head of the Department.
I mentioned before that these courses were hugely oversubscribed by football players. I was a walk-on at the University of Oklahoma, and while I was on the team, as with any major D-1 club, a huge support structure was in place to make sure that football players excelled in the classroom as well as on the field. I want to emphasize that at OU I never saw or heard of anything untoward, and that everyone I associated with in the football program comported themselves to the highest standards of ethical behavior. UNC has a similar apparatus, of tutors and schedulers and learning specialists. There is no way whatsoever that the oversubscription of football players into AFAM classes would occur without the knowledge of this support structure, the knowledge of the UNC compliance department, and the highest levels of the UNC coaching staff.
So where do we go from here? I love football. I love playing the game and I love watching it. But the reputation of our school must come first. It’s why we’re here. When academic fraud occurs, and becomes public, it decreases the value of all our degrees. Football is an incredibly costly enterprise in the best of circumstances; almost none of these programs make a profit, our program included. I would submit that the humiliation that the UNC football program has inflicted on our school over the last half decade is vastly greater than any possible glory our players could achieve on the gridiron in the future. It’s time to stop throwing good money after bad, and end the UNC football program permanently. We’d honor our commitments to existing players, but we’d cease granting athletic scholarships. If we want to have football at our school, let the athletes do it for the right reason: love of the game.