North Carolina academic scandal costs school over $5.6M since 2015

ESPN logo
Saturday, March 25, 2017

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina estimates it has amassed more than $5.6 million in attorneys' fees and other costs between mid-2015 and January tied to its multiyear academic scandal.

The school released updated figures Friday as it responds to public records requests. The total included an array of related issues, from the ongoing NCAA case that has led to five serious charges against the school to lawsuits filed by former athletes and the cost of dealing with more records requests.

UNC has now amassed at least $16.3 million in costs tied to the academic scandal dating to 2012, including $3.1 million for a 2014 investigation by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein into irregularities in the academic department at the center of the case.

Most notably, those problems included independent study-style courses misidentified as lecture classes that didn't meet and required a research paper or two featuring significant athlete enrollments. Wainstein estimated more than 3,100 students were affected between 1993 and 2011, with athletes across numerous sports accounting for roughly half the enrollments in problem courses.

The school said recent costs included work by four law firms and document reviews by two temporary agencies assisting with records requests. The law firms include Sidley Austin LLP, which was hired in November 2015, according to a letter released to The Associated Press on Friday.

Those costs are going to continue with the case a long way from resolution.

The NCAA first charged the school in May 2015, revised the charges in April 2016 then modified them again in December. UNC is due to respond soon, though the school has said that process is on hold while the NCAA and UNC consult on a new schedule.