One year later, systemic academic/athletic fraud at UNC Chapel Hill not only hasn’t been resolved, scope of fraud has expanded.

Historic Old Well at UNC Chapel Hill. Photo courtesy of
Historic Old Well at UNC Chapel Hill. Photo courtesy of

Yesterday I thought to check on the status of the systemic academic and athletic fraud at UNC Chapel Hill. Wanted to see if the disaster in the news a year ago has been cleaned up. In that fiasco over 3000 students got credit for paper classes. The scheme ran for approximately 18 years. The systemic scheme was partially investigated several times before the depth of the fiasco was actually understood.

My previous posts:

The most informative update I found was on October 22 at The News & Observer: A year after Wainstein report, key issues still in play at UNC.

Report reminds us that in the last 12 months the accrediting organization placed the University on probation, the NCAA has raised allegations of five severe violations, and one faculty member has resigned. There is still far more to do.

Scope of known academic fraud expands

The NCAA investigation should have been to the point where the university had already responded to the allegations. The most severe charge is an accusation of the lack of institutional control, essentially the university is not in charge of its academic program.

The NCAA investigation and UNC response are on hold.

Back in August, the University announced it had discovered another area where academic fraud is in play. An academic counselor to players from the women’s basketball team was writing and editing papers for players on the team.

Reason for the hold is an expectation that NCAA will give the University another accusation. That would restart the clock for when they have to respond. Will likely be next spring or later before the NCAA announces any consequences.

8/16 – Daily Tarheel – UNC reports 2 new findings in academic scandal investigation Article says there are problems in the men’s soccer program, which was not known before.

The academic counselor above whose behavior has halted the followup was mentioned heavily in the Wainstein report. There is information now available of her being far more involved than known before. I don’t quite get the story, but apparently it wasn’t previously known she was writing papers for women on the basketball team as well as steering them to known easy classes.

I don’t understand the new developments. Whatever the issue is, it is new, it is significant, and it is outside the scope of the previous investigations. The integrity problem has been discovered in a new sport and a new department.

When dealing with a significant accounting problem on a financial audit, I always try to find out where the boundaries are on the issue. Having done that I can then understand the issue, quantify it, and resolve the mess. If I can’t find a boundary on the issue, the problem could ripple out and expand to every number in the financial statements.

Looks like UNC still doesn’t have a boundary around their systemic athletic/academic fraud. If they are still finding new fraud outside the boundaries of the previously known issues, I seriously doubt the university yet knows the full extent of the problems.

Other areas of correction

Updates in other areas of addressing the scandal are covered in the article.

The first documents from the investigation (~200K pages) have been released to the public. Much more work is needed to release the remaining documents (~5M pages) which were provided for the Wainstein investigation.

Disciplinary actions were started against nine employees a year ago. Three have left and one was fired. The counselor to the women’s basketball team is one of those who left; she retired on full pension. Negligible consequences there. For the other five, there is no visible action yet although the University says disciplinary actions are in progress.

Apparently, NCAA has no authority to address fraudulent classes or fraudulent grades in schools. Universities claim for themselves the authority to determine whether a course or grade is legitimate. NCAA is trying to come up with some new rule that would give them more authority in academic fraud situations.

A large number of corrective actions have been announced by UNC. The article says some have been put in place but a large portion are still in development.

Other articles

Costs of the legal and public relations work to deal with this fiasco has passed the $10 million point:

10/26 – The News & Observer – UNC scandal legal, consulting costs climb past $10 million – The school insist the tab has been paid by private contributions, not by tuition or state appropriations. My tally of the costs from the article, if I am reading it right:

  • $5.7M – Cadwallader Wickersham firm for the Wainstein report
  • $1.9 M – Skadden, Arps, Slate – accreditation defense and addressing three lawsuits from students
  • $1.3M – Bond, Schoeneck – NCAA investigation
  • $0.9M – previous investigation and another consulting firm
  • $9.8M – subtotal for legal work
  • $1.7M – Edelman – PR work
  • $0.5M – other PR firms prior to 2014
  • $2.2M – PR work
  • $12.0M – my calculation of the total to date

That is just the outside fees and doesn’t include whatever hours were spent internally. Those outside fees are still accumulating.

Looks like there is a current epidemic of fraud in college athletics:

10/26 – The News & Observer – Point of View: In college sports, academic fraud acceptable collateral damage – One of the co-authors of the opinion piece is a whistleblower from the university who co-authored a book on the systemic fraud at the University, which I mentioned earlier.

Article fills us in that the NCAA’s VP for enforcement said in January he was working on 20 major cases of fraud. There are apparently two major frauds that have surfaced since UNC got around to seriously investigating their internal debacle.

Article outlines what authors calls the major college athletic programs a hoax perpetrated on the student-atheletes who are fed into the multi-million dollar entertainment system for amusement of the fans. Authors assert academic fraud and loss of academic integrity is a trade-off that universities and fans are willing to make.

6/22/15 – Conquest Chronicles – The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill scandal – Article surveys some of the most serious athletic scandals in the last 25 years. If proportionality has any value in the NCAA punishment system, which is a large if, punishment for the academic and athletic fraud at UNC will involve capital punishment for the football program or something close to it.

Number of forfeited scholarships would be in the 30 or 60 range along with voiding the 2005 championship based on my rough comparison to prior disciplinary actions.

Full disclosure: A long, long time ago I attended and graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park campus.  As I vaguely recall, that is supposed to give me a life-long rivalry to UNC, what with the tobacco road referees that dominated the ACC games at the time, the four-corner defense to run out the clock, and all that. (At least that’s what everyone was saying back then, so I guess it must be true.)

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