Even though University of North Carolina head basketball coach, Roy Williams wasn’t implicated in the academic fraud report by independent investigator Kenneth Wainstein, released by UNC on Wednesday, it still makes me wonder, just how much did Coach Williams really know?
According to a 131-page report, student athletes were specifically steered towards paper classes by academic counselors for 18 years. The no-show paper classes in the African and Afro-American Studies Department were "very popular among student-athletes, and especially those from the revenue sports," the report stated.
Some of the notable findings of the report:
• Over the 18-years, the paper classes affected 3,100 out of a total of 97,600 undergraduate students at the university.
• Student-athletes accounted for 47.6 percent of enrollments in the irregular classes.
• Many of the student-athletes were directed to the classes by academic counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes. These counselors saw the paper classes and the artificially high grades they yielded as key to helping some student-athletes remain eligible.
• Advisors in the Office of Academic Advising also directed non-athlete students to these courses.
• Various university personnel were aware of red flags, yet did not ask questions. There was a failure of meaningful oversight by the University.
The fraud began in 1993 and lasted until 2011. According to the Wainstein report, AFAM chair Dr. Julius Nyang'oro and his department manager, Deborah Crowder, were responsible for offering hundreds of "fake" classes that never met and had no faculty involvement. Although Nyang’oro became the professor of record for many of the fake classes, Crowder managed the classes and assigned grades.
On October 22, 2014, The New York Times reported that Crowder told Mr. Wainstein she had been motivated by a desire to help struggling athletes. Also, according to the NYT, Ms. Crowder required that students turn in only a single paper, but the papers were often largely plagiarized or padded out with "fluff" like page after page of quotations, the report said. She generally gave the papers A’s or B’s after a cursory glance. The classes were widely known as "paper classes" because of the one requirement for completion.
I am not calling Williams a liar by any means but according to the Independent report, he acknowledged that he was concerned about
his players' heavy use of classes in AFAM because it looked like players were being steered into that major!
Williams arrived in Chapel Hill from the University of Kansas in 2003. The team he inherited during the 2003-04 season had 5 AFAM majors. His 2005 NCAA National Championship team had 10 players that were majoring in AFAM! That's 5 additional since his arrival to Chapel Hill.
According to the report, the men's basketball enrollments in paper classes declined in 2007 under Williams, four years after Williams took over as head coach.
It appears that it took quite a while for him to address his concerns in reference to the heavy use of AFAM classes by his players'.
According to WRAL.com in (Raleigh, NC) basketball counselor Wayne Walden, who came to UNC from Kansas along with Roy Williams, acknowledged knowing how the paper classes worked. Yet the investigation found that many basketball players were not "steered" to them, but rather heard through other teammates.
Also according to WRAL from 1999-2009, 226 men's basketball players enrolled in the paper classes. During that period, there were no spikes or dips in enrollment to suggest Walden was directing players to the program.
In my opinion, if Coach Williams was really that concerned about the heavy use of the AFAM classes by his players, he would have steered them away from the classes much sooner especially since Walden knew how the classes operated.
It appears to me that Coach Williams may have been more interested in protecting the UNC basketball brand and producing more wins than doing what was right!
He basically chose to turn a blind eye to what had been going on for so long at UNC.