A history of academic fraud was recently revealed at the University of North Carolina by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein. From 1993 to 2011, student-athletes were enrolled in “paper classes” in the school’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies. Students were not required to attend the classes, only to turn in one paper. The classes often did not have an instructor.
The report reveals that 3,100 students enrolled in these classes. The fraud involved all the big money college sports, including football and UNC’s high-profile basketball program, which won three national championships during the period in question.
Wainstein’s report says that UNC officials overlooked obvious warning signs, like an unusually high number of independent study course enrollments in the department. No other departments were involved, according to the report. Nine university employees have been fired or are facing disciplinary proceedings.
The problem now lands in the lap of the NCAA, which is already facing a host of other problems including litigation over amateurism in collegiate athletics. Some suggest that this could be a chance at redemption for the NCAA if it imposes harsh penalties on the Tarheels.
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