UNC issues response to NCAA Notice of Allegations

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UNC Chapel Hill

UNC Chapel Hill has issued its official response to the NCAA's amended Notice of Allegations (NOA) from April.


The NCAA charged North Carolina with five violations, including a lack of institutional control and failing to sufficiently monitor its academic support program for athletes, in its long-running fraud scandal centered around independent study-style courses in the African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department that were misidentified as lecture courses that required no class time and one or two research papers. Run largely by an office administrator - not a faculty member - the courses featured GPA-boosting grades and significant athlete enrollments across numerous sports, while poor oversight throughout the university allowed them to run unchecked for years.


In its response, UNC admits some academic wrongdoing, but also challenges whether the NCAA has the authority to govern those issues.

"The question is whether the matters raised ... meet the jurisdictional, procedural and substantive requirements of the NCAA constitution and bylaws - rules that govern athletics, not academic quality and oversight," the school wrote in part.

A 2014 investigation by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein estimated more than 3,100 students were affected between 1993 and 2011, with athletes making up roughly half the enrollments in problem African and Afro-American Studies courses.

The sports of men's basketball and football were not named in the amended NOA - a change from the original NOA that UNC received in May 2015.

In addition to a lack of institutional control and failure to monitor the academic support program for student-athletes, Jan Boxill, who was a former faculty chair, a senior lecturer in ethics, and an academic counselor for athletes, is charged with knowingly providing extra benefits in the form of impermissible academic assistance to women's basketball players.

In its response, UNC said "Boxill did not engage in "willful"" violations. The term "willful" requires a deliberate or intentional act knowing that it is wrong."

Former AFAM department chairman Julius Nyang'oro and former office administrator Deborah Crowder are also charged with not cooperating with NCAA investigators. In its response, UNC said it has no way to compel the two to cooperate.

Speaking with reporters, UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said "We feel that we've had two individuals in an academic unit that operated out of norm. We have one counselor that's been accused of providing too much academic support. All of this transpired over a 20-year period. That's three individuals over a long period of time. We don't think that constitutes lack of institutional control."

Cunningham said since the scandal came to light, the school has instituted major reforms to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Up next for UNC is a meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

"I haven't engaged in any speculation about penalties," said Cunningham. "Our focus has been on the Notice of Allegations. We will shift our attention in the next coming months to our meeting with the Committee on Infractions and I'll worry about penalties at that time. That's not something that consumes a lot of my time right now. It's speculation in my mind."
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