NCAA reopens UNC investigation

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Monday, June 30, 2014
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UNC-Chapel Hill said the NCAA has given it notice it will reopen its 2011 investigation of academic irregularities at the school.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said Monday the NCAA has given it notice it will reopen its 2011 investigation of academic irregularities at the school involving student athletes.

UNC said it was told that the "NCAA has determined that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might now be willing to speak with the enforcement staff."

UNC declined further comment.

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.

Despite previous internal investigations, UNC has now requested Ken Wainstein, a former federal prosecutor, to do a new independent investigation of the scandal. UNC said Monday he has been instructed to "share relevant information directly and confidentially with the NCAA."

Wainstein told the UNC Board of Governors at a meeting earlier this month that his team has interviewed 80 potential witnesses and reviewed 1.5 million emails and other electronic documents. It has also gone through thousands of student records and transcripts.

Wainstein, a partner with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, did not give specifics or any factual findings - saying he would present a full written report this fall that will be made public.

In an exchange earlier this month, former North Carolina basketball star Rashad McCants went back and forth with Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams about the scandal. McCants said his tutors wrote his term papers, that he rarely went to class for about half his time at UNC, and he remained able to play largely because he took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible.

Several days later, Williams told ESPN that he was in "shock" and "disbelief" over the McCants allegations, saying the experiences McCants shared did not match what he knows about his players' academic efforts and records and the basketball program he oversees.

But McCants, in a second appearance on ESPN's "Outside the Lines," stood by his allegations and called on all former players from 2004-05 to release their academic transcripts, which would show whether they too took bogus classes within the school's African-American studies program.

A copy of McCants' university transcript, labeled "unofficial" and obtained by "Outside the Lines," shows that in his non-African-American studies classes, McCants received six C's, one D and three F's. In his African-American studies classes -- many of which are referred to as "paper classes" because students did not have to attend them -- his grades were 10 A's, six B's, one C and one D.

While not addressing McCants' allegations specifically, Wainstein told the Board of Governor that the "paper classes" are part of the focus of his investigation.

He said his team has new access to former administrators within the African American studies program that previous school investigations were not able to speak with. Wainstein said he is looking at what went into the classes, how they were designed, how they deviated from school norms, why they were created and by whom. He said he will determine if any school administrators were involved.

Wainstein said he will see if students actually wrote papers, if they got assistance, and if passing grades were given for no work.

He said he's looking at if the athletics department was involved and if it steered student athletes into the classes.

UNC said Monday it has put numerous academic reforms into place based on findings from earlier reports that can be found at http://carolinacommitment.unc.edu/ and it remains "committed to learning from our past so that we can move forward to building a stronger University."

Former UNC advisor Mary Willingham, the UNC whistleblower who claimed some student athletes were functionally illiterate, has issued a statement to ABC11, saying: "The NCAA will need some serious help from our historians at UNC (so many years have passed). The NCAA cartel has lost credibility as a regulatory body. Meting out punishment should not be the purpose of any inquiry at this point. Instead, they should focus on how to use the UNC example to reform the entire system."

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