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Rights Group Files OCR Complaint Against UNC

The Student Athletes Human Rights Project, a Durham-based organization dedicated to ending what it says is exploitation of students who are athletes, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights saying UNC has “discriminated against male athletes, especially black, male athletes.”

SAHRP claimed that the University deprived some UNC athletes of a quality education when they were directed to so-called “paper classes” set up in the former department of African and Afro-American studies by the former department chair, Julius Nyang’oro.

“The data suggests black student-athletes are disproportionately enrolled in paper courses when compared to white student-athletes,” the organization wrote in its complaint.

Officials at SAHRP could not be reached immediately.

According to its website, the group “provides real-time advocacy and activism for student-athletes in cases where they are treated unjustly.

“The Project aims to improve the collegiate athletics system by partnering with philanthropists, foundations, activists, and other organizations that also favor social justice for the adolescents and young adults who are an integral component of the collegiate athletics system.”

In March, it called on the NCAA to investigate UNC for various unethical conduct by officials of the University in the issues it faces in the relationship between athletics and academics.

The project cited aspects of past and ongoing investigations into the UNC case, such as the probe by former Gov. James Martin, and allegations from former football player Michael McAdoo ’12 that his education was a “scam.”

The project’s letter to the NCAA cited the central complaints against African and Afro-American studies — that irregularities were found in more than 50 department classes, some of which did not offer classroom lectures but assigned a paper to be completed by the end of the term, and that these classes were heavily enrolled with athletes. The letter also cited the research of learning specialist Mary Willingham concerning the college-level abilities of some athletes admitted to UNC, research that has been discredited by the University.

SAHRP’s website shows it has documented the three-and-a-half-year-old episode at UNC closely, along with the cases of several other universities that have academics-athletics issues.


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