Former UNC Professor Indicted For Not Teaching Athletes

Julius Nyang'oro

Former UNC African American Studies chairman Julius Nyang’oro, who was in the center of an academic fraud probe led by North Carolina governor Jim Martin, has been indicted for failing to teach.

In 2011 Nyang’oro created a summer school class, AFAM 280: Blacks in North Carolina, days before the session was due to start. He was paid $12,000 to teach the lecture style, face to face class in which 18 of the 19 students that were enrolled were football players. The class never met.

An investigation also found that the former department chair has a history dating back to the 90’s of doing this same thing. Over 200 of his department’s classes never met and there were more than 500 grade changes. Athletes accounted for just under half of these changes and were disproportionately enrolled in the classes based on the overall population of the school (45% of the classes were attended by athletes, but they only make up 5% of the school’s population).

The UNC athletic department denies any link to the fraud and their student athletes.

UNC officials and the probe they commissioned that was led by former Gov. Jim Martin found that athletics did not play a role in the fraud because non-athletes had the same access to the classes and received the same grades. They also found no evidence that athletic officials played a part in setting up the classes.

Correspondence obtained by The News & Observer, involving the tutoring program for athletes, showed counselors there knew the classes didn’t meet and weren’t challenging. The counselors steered academically-challenged freshmen football players into one such class, which was listed in a course catalog as a seminar for seniors majoring in African studies.

If you believe UNC’s athletic department’s finding that they had nothing to do with this fraud, I have a bridge I want to sell you.

This is not unusual in the world of college sports. (And I am saying this from the perspective of someone that played sports in college) Athletics first and keeping yourself academically eligible to play by any means necessary second. It’s common knowledge what the easy classes are, which professors will let you slide by despite doing nothing in class, and what chicks to cling that will write your papers for you. I personally don’t blame the athletes. I blame the system that coddles them for monetary gain and often encourages ignorance that will hurt them in the long run. Unfortunately, contrary to what many of them believe, for the vast majority, the stacks of cash that the NFL provides will not be waiting on them when they graduate. What are you to do then when you have to get a job that requires the knowledge you should’ve attained in college? The system is often more hurtful than helpful.

In this case, Nyang’oro is UNC’s scapegoat. Don’t get me wrong, what he did was not right and he should be held accountable, but the athletic department that encouraged such practice should be held accountable too.

Nyang’oro’s lawyer says he will fight the charges.