UNC-Chapel Hill report on academic fraud to be released Wednesday

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
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UNC says the results of an independent investigation into potential academic fraud will be made public Wednesday.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- UNC-Chapel Hill says the results of an independent investigation into academic irregularities at the school involving student athletes will be made public Wednesday.

"I do know a lot of students do hope this will be the final straw and hope that we can really move forward after this," said UNC Student Body President Andrew Powell.

The campus community is eager to learn what former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein has uncovered.

Wainstein, now partner with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, has been looking at various allegations of academic fraud, including so-called "paper classes" within the African-American department where students did not attend classes and turned in a paper for a grade at the end of the semester.

Early this summer, Wainstein told the UNC Board of Governors his team had interviewed 80 potential witnesses and reviewed 1.5 million emails and other electronic documents. It had also gone through thousands of student records and transcripts. UNC Faculty Athletics Committee member Deborah Stroman has met with Wainstein and his staff.

"They're incredible investigators," said Stroman, who heads up the Carolina Black Caucus. "I'm trusting that this report will be thorough. It will give us the answers that we need to continue do our work and so that we can continue to be a great institution here in North Carolina."

Former student athletes have claimed tutors wrote term papers for them and they rarely attended class. Former North Carolina basketball star Rashad McCants said he remained able to play largely because he took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible.

In July, Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said he agreed to drop a charge against former UNC-Chapel Hill African Studies Chairman Julius Nyang'oro in exchange for his cooperation in the ongoing investigation of an academic scandal at the school.

UNC's problems first began in 2010 when it announced it was looking into allegations of plagiarism, tutors who violated rules, faculty who failed to provide oversight, alleged unethical conduct by an assistant coach, and allegations that players got perks from professional sports agents.

The NCAA said the school was "responsible for multiple violations, including academic fraud, impermissible agent benefits, ineligible participation, and a failure to monitor its football program."

Penalties imposed by the association included a one-year postseason ban, a reduction of 15 football scholarships, vacation of records, and three years' probation.

The NCAA recently announced it has reopened its investigation. UNC said Wainstein was instructed to "share relevant information directly and confidentially with the NCAA."

The top-to-bottom review of faculty, staff and administrators is expensive. Wainstein's hourly rate is nearly $1,000. It may be money well-spent for answers to several burning questions.

Perhaps no one is more eager to learn the intimate details of the UNC academic scandal than News & Observer reporter Dan Kane.

"How did it start? Who all knew? What did they do with that knowledge," wondered Kane, who was the first to report on UNC's academic irregularities uncovered during an NCAA investigation focused on the UNC football team.

Kane has fielded a few threats while breaking stories that have attracted both furious fans and letters of support from UNC alumni.

"It's a great university. It's a great academic university. I think a lot of these folks were very concerned about the academic reputation of their university. They love the university and they want to protect it," Kane said.

ABC11 will be standing by for the Wainstein report on air and online Wednesday starting at 10:30 a.m. We will have a live stream of the press conference beginning at 1 p.m.

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