Questions around UNC and their athletics academic practices have been swirling for the past couple of months. We reported in December that African-American studies Professor Julius Nyang’oro, was indicted for failing to teach classes that were heavily attended by athletes.
During a speech to university trustees, North Carolina chancellor Carol Folt accepted responsibility for the institution’s role in the African American studies department fraud and said that steps have already been taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“As one of a small number of leading national research universities that also has a highly competitive athletic program, what happens at Chapel Hill is of great interest both regionally and nationally. We have to accept, and do accept, that scrutiny. We have to welcome it and see it as a tremendous opportunity for us. The scrutiny that is taking place here is, of course, part of a much larger national conversation about the role and the impact of college sports, and even further, about the commitment schools are making to ensure that students are receiving the support they need to succeed in the classroom, to advance to graduation as well as on the playing field. At Carolina, proceeding towards meaningful athletic and academic reform is requiring us to fully acknowledge and accept lessons of our past. And I think these are messages that I believe have not been made clear enough to the Carolina community and to the public….
“Although we don’t have evidence that the anomalous courses were initiated in order to benefit athletes, close to half who did enroll were student-athletes. Offering courses that were unsupervised was not reflective of the standards that we expect for our university. And many students were involved in those courses. All of those students who were involved in those courses deserved better from us. We also accept the fact that there was a failure in academic oversight for years that permitted this to continue. This, too, was wrong and it has undermined our integrity and our reputation and it’s created a very unhealthy atmosphere of distrust.”
Chapel Hill also received national attention when current UNC professor Mary Willingham’s report on the poor reading levels of Tar Heel athletes was released by CNN, which the university has challenged.
As I’ve said before, cupcake classes known to keep athletes academically eligible are at every university. UNC just happened to get caught. It’s good to see the school acknowledging their role (even if it’s just negligence) after initially placing all the blame on the on the department chair.