The NCAA has re-opened an investigation into the no-show classes and grade fixing scandal for athletes at the University of North Carolina years after the scandal and long after it allowed its own investigation to lie fallow.
Between 1997 and 2011 an academic department head at UNC was caught arranging no-show classes and fixing grades for school athletes to keep them eligible for their sport. The fake classes and false grades kept many basketball and football players on the field when their true grades would have knocked them off their teams.
The one-time department head of UNC’s African and Afro-American Studies Department, professor Julius Nyang’oro, was indicted on fraud charges for the fake classes and grade fixing but local prosecutors are considering dropping the charges because the prof and his former program administrator, Deborah Crowder, have been cooperating with state investigators as well as separate investigations conducted by the school.
ESPN noted that UNC announced in 2012 that between 1997 and 2011, professors in some 54 classes in the department of African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) were found to have conducted grade changes, forged faculty signatures on grade rolls, and the created of no-show classes to pump up students’ academic statistics.
But this scandal happened years ago and the NCAA’s first investigation ground to a halt and was forgotten about. So, why is the basketball authority re-starting its investigation?
Perhaps a hint is contained in the last paragraph of a story in The New York Times.
After recapping the recent lawsuit by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon, who accused the NCAA of denying players the rights to their names and likenesses in violation of antitrust laws, the Times notes that the sudden resurrection of the UNC investigation is “curious.”
Marc Tracy wrote, “‘The timing is curious coming right after the O’Bannon trial has ended, after the N.C.A.A. has absorbed an awful lot of criticism for failing to follow up on U.N.C.,’ said Jay Smith, a history professor who has been a campus leader in pressuring the university to own up to the scandal.”
To explain itself, the NCAA said it was reopening its investigation “after determining that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might be willing to speak with the enforcement staff.”
But the NCAA will have to face many who might imagine that their revived investigation is way, way late for the NCAA.
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