One of the most stellar and admired sports programs in the country, if not the world, just had its reputation stained. Permanently.
According to an NCAA investigation, professors and coaches and administrators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conspired to help thousands of student athletes cheat over an 18-year period by sending them through fake classes to help them maintain their minimum grade point average required to play.
The NCAA report which was released Wednesday, more than 3,000 students at UNC took “paper classes — classes that did not exist — at the direction of counselors from the schools Academic Support Program for Student–Athletes between 1993 to 2011 in the African and Afro–American Studies department
They were allegedly arranged by a former department head and former office administrator with full knowledge of the University and the football and basketball coaches.
UNC-Chapel Hill sports program used to be the envy of the nation, particularly in basketball, which boasts such legendary luminaries as Michael Jordan, James Worthy and former head coach Dean Smith.
Current basketball head coach and NCAA champion Roy Williams denies having any knowledge whatsoever of this major scandal that has rocked the university to the core — and may bring about an end to the sports program at the esteemed collegiate institution.
Counselors at the school even gave rosters of the athletes and the grades they were to receive to remain eligible to play.
Newly installed UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said she was “shocked” and horrified by the revelations.
“The bad actions of a few and the inaction of others failed the University’s students, faculty and alumni, and undermined the institution as a whole. This conduct could and should have been stopped much earlier by individuals in positions of influence and oversight, and others could have sounded the alarm more forcefully.”
The investigation is particularly pungent for UNC students and alumni because the Tar Heels won five national titles under the leadership of basketball coach Dean Smith and athletic director John Swofford. However, the scandal is not exclusive to the money-generating sports of basketball and football. The NCAA Investigation revealed a large spike in the number of Olympic athletes enrolling at the school in recent years who are tied to what may be the biggest scandal in the history of American collegiate athletics.
The investigation was launched by the NCAA and lasted more than eight months. The casualties are many, with many more having an appointment with the firing squad. Thus far, at least nine University employees are fired or are under disciplinary review with four more having had their ranks and statuses reduced, pending further investigation.
“These counselors saw the paper classes and the artificially high grades they yielded as key to helping some student-athletes remain eligible,” Kenneth Wainstein wrote in his report.