January 9, 2014

Question of the Week: Do you think that UNC has handled its academic fraud scandal appropriately?

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

We have all read about the University of North Carolina academic fraud scandal involving some of the school’s top athletes. Apparently, Julius Nyang’Oro, who had been the longstanding chair of UNC’s African American Studies Department, gave out undeserved A’s, changed grades by other professors, and taught phantom courses where no classes were actually held. After the university’s investigation, Nyang’Oro stepped down as the department chair and “retired” several months later. He was indicted last month on one felony count for being paid $12,000 for teaching one of his phantom classes.

Nyang’Oro has yet to make any public statements in his defense. And the school taken no responsibility for the academic scam which supposedly had been going on for nearly a decade. Some believe that Nyang’Oro is getting what he deserves for orchestrating such a major academic disservice to these so-called “student/athletes” merely so they could continue to play ball. Others feel that he is being made a scapegoat for appears to be a much broader institutional (and NCAA-wide) problem where winning ball games and collecting the vast amounts of revenue that comes with it trumps any consideration of student welfare.

If you answered no, please comment below with suggestions on how the university should be handling this.


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43 Responses to “Question of the Week: Do you think that UNC has handled its academic fraud scandal appropriately?

  1. It is unlikely that UNC was unaware of ths phantom courses. The school should be held accountable for the actions of their employees on some level – even it is simply a statement and policy change to prevent this from occurring again.

  2. The University should open up the books because this is a Public University!…not some Communist camp where only a few rule.

  3. Absolutely no! The actions of UNC administration and leaders is abysmal. There actions lack any resemblance of integrity. An independent investigation needs to get to the root of this systematic corruption. This scandal is truly epic!

  4. UNC needs to stop lying, covering up and dodging. They are ruined in the public eye. It’s almost laughable except for the fact that they are setting these kids up for failure when they can’t go pro, and have no education to fall back on. It borders on racism. Sickening. They should get the death penalty for what they’ve done. And yes, my child was accepted to UNC, they goodness they chose a real college to attend. I would be furious if I had been spending all this money for a degree that nit only has lost all respect but now is questioned if it is valid.

  5. There appears to be no true desire to fix the problem – students not being educated properly. Integrity does not allow an “everybody does it” response. Unfortunately, given the morals of our “elected leaders” in our government, why would we expect better from the people they hire. Dodge and deception has kept them afloat for 4 years. What a “flagship”: May other universities never get stuck with that label.

  6. Disgraceful handling of the situation. I am ashamed of my alma mater. There is no integrity left in the administrators. Admit your mistakes, take your punishment and move forward. It is not a manufactured situation, anyone can plainly see this stuff actually happened.. Let’s stop playing PR games. The quicker we own up to the truth, the quicker we can restore our reputation.

  7. Lie, cheat and deceit. How many times have the people in charge at UNC released a response only to be found out to be a fib? I guess this is what happens when your biggest concern is spending 6 hours with your million dollar PR firm on a Saturday! The leaders at UNC and the UNC system need to get treatment for cryptorchidism. Please step in and take the candy away from the children! its nap time.

  8. Not remotely. They are doing all they can to eliminate the word ‘integrity’ from our vocabulary, all in the name of allowing a few fat cats to thumb their arrogant noses at other universities over a game. The taxpayers of NC should do whatever it takes to replace their leadership with accountable people of competence and integrity.

  9. UNC needs to stop working the PR team spin job (Spent ~ $1M to date) and do some real independent investigation to get to the root problem. Claiming a 95% graduation rate for athletes when the graduation rate for regular students is around 70% should raise a red flag of improprieties. Especially when you consider that UNC’s athlete’s SAT scores are way below that of UNC’s general population and were near the bottom of all the schools in the ACCs. No other ACC schools claim such ridiculous numbers. The BOT and BOG should be ashamed of themselves.

    To believe UNC’s assertion that 2 decades of 200 no-show classes and 500 improper grade changes was the work of only 2 individuals is ludicrous. This sham was approved, at least by turning a blind eye, by the highest authorities at UNC.

  10. The longer the University drags this story out: the worst it looks for UNC, the state of North Carolina, and the state government.

  11. Come clean with what has happened, have an open and honest discussion about how and why we have gotten to this point, define the true mission of the university, and make corrective actions that fit the university’s mission.

  12. Absolute lack of integrity from UNC system president (Tom Ross) and on down the chain of command. I shudder to think about all the people Ross railroaded as a judge in Forsyth County with his lack of integrity and leadership.

  13. Come clean. It’s obvious someone at the very top has instructed the mandate to be don’t let any outsiders know what’s transpired and listen to the PR team we’ve paid a small fortune to navigate us out of this mess.

    Never in my professional life in business and in the political theater have I seen anything this corrupt and out of control. This is not a privately held company; it’s a publicly funded university. As an outsider, I’ve reviewed quite a bit of information from the news reports and thumbnail take is the people who should be protecting the academic integrity of the nation’s oldest university are far more concerned with their favorite sports team winning games than doing what’s best for the tax payers and students. UNC has failed across the board in every facet of this dumpster fire that would have never reached this point if they had just come clean from the beginning.

  14. The University has not admitted to anything and continues to blow taxpayer money at every turn to hide the truth. The residents of NC want an INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION to learn where this corruption began so that we may root out this behavior once and for all. UNC is not a private entity, it is a public institution, answerable to the citizens of the state. Their administration seems to think that the Dean Smith center is akin to the White House and the buck stops there.

  15. Not even close. As someone with a UNC degree, and with a daughter with a UNC degree, I am dumbfounded that apparently no one in UNC’s administration is concerned about protecting the integrity of those degrees. It’s as if the academic side of the university is merely a facade or prop used to cover up the fact that UNC exists solely as a revenue sports factory. It’s time to stop listening to the PR folks and do what’s right – stop all of the special admissions for illiterate football and basketball players and act like a place where academics are valued. All of the obfuscation has gone on way too long. It’s time to let a whole lot of light in.

  16. The university should quit with the cover-up and PR campaign. Everyone knows the “emperor has no clothes” but these morons are all in with the bluff given what they would lose should the truth really come out.

  17. 1. The UNC whistleblower received a demotion for telling the truth.
    2. One defense UNC has used has been to deny everything while hiding behind government regulations. UNC could use a independent third party to investigate and clear itself but it has done nothing but investigate itself.
    3. Another defense UNC has used is to state that every University cheats without giving evidence of this statement.
    4. The University hired a PR firm to handle this issue. What does PR have to do with ethics in education and athletics?

  18. Independent investigation. Not a review where boundaries are dictated by UNC. An open investigation with open access to e-mail, files etc is essential to cleaning up this embarrassment to the state on NC. The hiring of a PR firm to spin this is disgusting. Admit the wrong doing, fix the problems, and quit hiding behind FERPA.

  19. Should allow a non-biased group to lead an in-depth investigation and be forthcoming with the data necessary to determine the level of corruption within both the athletic and academic sides of the university.

  20. Tylenol is a great example of how to handle a problem. UNC took the opposite approach and basically is telling the whole world that athletics are far more important to the university than academics. UNC’s approach to this is like a 4 year old child. The excuses & lies are just as easy to see through as a 4 year old. “I didn’t do it”…”I didn’t know about it”….”everyone else was doing it”. Come clean with the public now, have a TRUE independent investigation to uncover any other problems and use the data to fix the problem and make sure it never happens again.

  21. There is no honesty in the unc* response. The sole purpose of the university’s* response is to protect basketball from an honest and thorough investigation.

  22. Covering up is not a way to handle a scandal. It is a way to make things worse. Find the root of the problem and address it. Stop hiding it. I mean is it so serious that we have to bury it like a Chernobyl? The only way to restore any semblance of academic integrity is to get down to what the root causes were, punish anyone involved appropriately (and yes I mean recalling degrees if needed), take any lumps these decisions to cheapen the education at UNC might make to any sports accomplishments might cause. Then try to build something that resembles the way “The Carolina Way” was supposed to be in the aftermath.

    That or become a Community College.

  23. No. UNC decided that it was easier to sacrifice academic reputations than those of athletics. UNC, a University owned and funded by the people of NC, has lied, manipulated, and stonewalled most of the attempts made by the public/media to investigate the truth in this matter. UNC needs to come clean, air the dirty laundry, and change their internal culture. The truth is that phony classes were created and fake grades were given so that athletes could remain eligible. The entire 2005 Men’s National Title Basketball Team (with the exception of 3 undeclared players) majored in the AFAM degree—– think about that for a moment…the University made millions of $ and grew their national Basketball brand behind bogus degrees/forged grades/no-show classes. According to the documents released to the public, over 500 fake classes and 200 unauthorized grade changes occurred across several decades. Basketball and Football players have been using this degree (fake class scheme) at UNC to remain eligible for decades. Where would there basketball program be without the academic fraud? What would UNC’s athletic graduation rate be?……………………it WAS supposedly ~97% over that span in Basketball, while the normal student population (admitted to UNC based on their academic performance) were graduating at around 77%. Shameful.

  24. Of course UNC has not handled it correctly. The Tar Heels continue to bunker down among more lies instead of telling the truth.

  25. UNC should do what they should have done two years ago… have an independent, REAL investigation of the entire scandal as far back as records go. It should be done by well-qualified, independent people who are in no way connected to any part of the UNC system.

  26. More transparency is needed. The UNC System Board of Governors and the UNC-CH Board of Trustees need to investigate this and become more interested. To date, neither board has addressed this scandal. They need to leave their daytight compartments.

  27. They should have owned up to all the mistakes they made instead of hiring lawyers and PR firms to hide the scandal. The university is in a protect athletics at all cost state of mind when it should be trying to save its once stellar academic reputation. They should have insisted upon a real investigation by someone with no ties to the university instead of hiring ex Governor Martin to do whitewash and throw academics under the bus. They should apologize to the thousands of kids they have let down by not teaching them a thing and in many cases putting them back on the street with no real way to survive on their own. Some of these kids didn’t get to take the classes they wanted to and others it appears didn’t attend some classes at all. They can still right this wrong, but they will not as they will do anything to protect a couple of banners hanging in the Dean Dome. The leaders of this once fine institution, it BOT’s, and the BOG’s should all be embarrassed by their actions.

  28. I voted No, and it’s not even close.

    There has yet to be a true independently run investigation into this whole charade. Until that is done, and UNC-CH allows all of the data to be reviewed, nobody will ever know to what true depths this scandal goes.

  29. UNC should have admitted in 2011 that this is too serious an issue for it to handle, and requested that a governing body (UNC System or state government) launch an independent investigation. At this point, the trainwreck is so horrendous that I think UNC’s first step realistically is to shut down intercollegiate sports until it can figure out how to do it right. Letting sports get you negative coverage on the front page of The New York Times and on CNN is absurd. The tail is wagging the dog. Sports are trivial compared with the overall mission of the university.

    Shut it down and reboot.

  30. Look, he’s probably guilty of all this stuff, but there is no way that there is not a huge cover-up going on. There is too much money and reputation at stake. It’s no secret that college athletes are treated differently as to academics so that they can play ball and rake in the dough for the school/NCAA. I highly doubt that Nyang’Oro just cooked up this scam all by himself. What’s in it for him? Follow the money, that’s what I say.

  31. I think Nyang should be fired because he knew, or should have known, that what he was doing was wrong. I think the school so far has mishandled this though becaue Nyang should not be the only one that goes down.

  32. Nynang’Oro’s conduct, if true, is an inexcusable disservice to the students he was supposed to serve. But the whole incident reflects a much larger failure on the part of UNC and the NCAA to protect the welfare of their “student-athletes.” Unfortunately it seems that UNC (like so many other NCAA schools) has created an environment where being a student is far less important than being an athlete. Check out the recent CNN report on this very issue — http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/07/us/ncaa-athletes-reading-scores/.