Massive, systemic academic fraud at UNC-Chapel Hill revolving around its athletics department (particularly the high-power basketball team) has been detailed in an explosive investigation that if anything does not go far enough. Forbes reports:
An eight-month investigation by former federal prosecutor Kenneth L. Wainstein has found that more than 3100 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students – almost half of them athletes — were given credit for “irregular” (read: nonexistent) classes over an 18-year period from 1993-2011 as part of a organized scheme that allowed many to remain sports-eligible.The Wainstein report — which the University of North Carolina (UNC) authorized and paid for — does not directly implicate any coach. […] we didn’t receive a full-throated answer from Mr. Wainstein, perhaps because he was hired by the party that stands to lose the most from a comprehensive presentment.
It looks like it’s time for a rigorous outside investigation, and one can’t rule out criminal charges. While the report gives coaches a thick coat of whitewash—and skips almost completely over any University administration culpability—it nonetheless shows clear evidence of massive, systemic fraud over more than a decade. It looks too as if this wasn’t just a few high-profile athletes benefiting from no-show classes and plagiarized term papers. Particularly egregiously, vulnerable African-American students were sucked into what looks on the surface to be an African-American Studies department with zero oversight, accountability, or interest in the well-being of its students.
One wonders whether anybody will now accept a degree from this program as evidence of any academic achievement whatever. I’m a lifelong Tar Heels fan who grew up in Chapel Hill and has always seen UNC as a great university with a distinguished tradition. And yet, I could not recommend hiring anybody from this department for an academic post without careful investigation to make sure that the applicant’s credentials aren’t bogus—a terrible burden to place on your grads.
This is a case of utter moral collapse of the entire chain of command up to department chairs, deans, provosts and, yes, presidents of the University of North Carolina. And then there are the coaches: either they were grossly, even grotesquely, negligent and exhibited depraved indifference to the welfare of their student athletes if they didn’t know what was going on, or perhaps criminally complicit (don’t forget that federal funds are likely involved here) if they did. That a well known and well respected athletic program at a famous university could have been this crooked for this long is yet another piece of evidence that the top level of college athletics in this country is badly broken. One suspects that UNC would not be standing alone in the Hall of Shame if we knew the details about other schools.
It is clear that UNC at least set a high value on a winning basketball program and zero value on the educational and moral upbringing of the young, mostly African-American students that it cynically exploited. —WRM