Chronicle of Higher Education
Academic advisers were aware of bogus classes for athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And some tutors knew of lifted passages in papers that players were using to stay eligible for sports, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.
The latest revelations indicate that members of North Carolina’s academic-support unit for athletes used certain upper-level classes in the department of African and Afro-American studies to keep academically unprepared first-year football players on the field.
Previously, the university believed that the academic problems—which centered on some 54 classes that did not require athletes and other students to meet—were limited to Julius Nyang’oro, a former chair of the department, and Deborah Crowder, a department manager. The new records suggest that at least one other professor in the department was aware of the no-show classes.
North Carolina’s academic advisers knew that the classes “largely consisted of papers stitched together with passages from the required reading materials that were then, in some instances, ‘paraphrased’ to avoid plagiarism concerns,” the newspaper reported.
“Professor Nyang’oro, Chair of the AFRI/AFAM Studies Department, has been very generous in granting several students (not just student-athletes) the opportunity to do independent study papers,” Amy Kleissler, a learning specialist with the athlete support program, wrote in a Feb. 8, 2010, email informing tutors of the AFRI 370 paper class. “Since we have worked with him in the past in this same manner I wanted to let you know that his expectations are very reasonable and very achievable for our students.”
When one tutor told the athlete support program’s assistant director, Beth Bridger, that she was discouraged with the work one football player turned in, Bridger told her not to worry.
“Just remember,” she wrote in a March 16, 2010, email, “guys are in this class for a reason at-risk, probation, struggling students you are making headway … keep it positive and encouraging!”
An e-mail written by Whitney Read, one of the program’s tutors, showed that she “was concerned about papers that were largely put together with passages lifted from source materials,” the newspaper said.
Jaimie Lee, an academic counselor, told her that was to be expected.
“If they have a ton of historical information, that’s fine, as long as it is cited and not plagiarized,” Lee wrote. “They have not necessarily developed the skill of critical analysis, so just try to get some in there, but if it is mostly background information, honestly, it is to be expected.”
So far, the NCAA has not weighed in on the case. The association rarely gets involved in issues of academic fraud, instead leaving it up to colleges to police the integrity of their curricula. But experts say the university’s lack of oversight with the classes could still lead to NCAA sanctions.
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