UNC Receives New Notice of Allegations From NCAA

The University on Monday received an amended Notice of Allegations from the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the long-running athletics-academics case.

A spokesperson confirmed that it was received but said UNC would need time to study the document and possibly redact material that it would not make public.

In a Notice of Allegations nearly a year ago, the NCAA told UNC that the University had violated principles of institutional control and compliance when it failed to monitor the activities of the former department of African and Afro-American studies staff and academic counselors for athletes.

In August, the University was days away from its deadline to respond to that notice when it self-reported possible additional violations of the organization’s rules.

According to a University spokesperson, one possible violation, involving women’s basketball, was found while poring through “5 or 6 million pages” of documents that UNC was preparing to release to the public in the wake of the 2014 release of the Wainstein report on the outside investigation into the issues. The other involved possible recruiting violations in men’s soccer that was unrelated to the Notice of Allegations received from the NCAA in May.

The self-reporting in effect restarted the clock on the NCAA’s procedures, and it has taken until now for it to send a new NOA.

A Timeline

  • 7/2010 — Football player Marvin Austin ’12 tweets from a trip he made to Miami, which hints that he may be receiving benefits due to his status as an athlete.
  • 7/2010 — NCAA investigators come to Chapel Hill for reasons then not specified.
  • 10/2010 — Then-Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 tells a news conference, “To everyone who loves this University, I’m sorry for what I have to tell you.” The NCAA investigation into the football program has uncovered possible academic misconduct involving an undergraduate student tutor and some players on the football team. “We don’t yet know the extent of the issue,” then-Athletics Director Dick Baddour ’66 (’75 MA) says. “We will get to the bottom of this.”
  • 7/2011 — Head football coach Butch Davis is fired.
  • 8/2011 — Then-University Counsel Leslie Strohm notifies the NCAA that there may be problems in the then-department of African and Afro-American studies.
  • 8/2011 — The News & Observer obtains Austin’s transcript, which shows he started taking college classes in summer 2007. The paper said that Austin’s SAT scores required remedial writing and that he took and made a B-plus in a 400-level class listed as being taught by then-AFAM Chair Julius Nyang’oro.
  • 9/2011 — Baddour says he will retire as soon as a successor is found.
  • 3/2012 — The NCAA says UNC is responsible for multiple rules violations in its football program, including academic fraud and a failure to monitor the program. Carolina is given a ban on postseason play for the next season, reduction of five football scholarships in each of the next three years, three years’ probation and a $50,000 fine (self-imposed by UNC) and is ordered to vacate its eight wins in 2008 and eight in 2009 because ineligible players participated. UNC is ordered to vacate the individual records of those who played while ineligible. UNC says it will not appeal.
  • 5/2012 — An internal investigation covering the period summer 2007 through summer 2011 finds nine classes containing 59 students that were found to be “aberrant.” It says 43 other courses were either aberrant or were “taught irregularly” — i.e., “the instructor provided an assignment and evidently graded the resultant paper but engaged in limited or no classroom or other instructional contact with the student.”
  • 6/2012 — The State Bureau of Investigation begins looking into the matter.
  • 6/2012 — It is revealed that in summer 2011, 18 football team members and one former player made up the entire enrollment of an African and Afro-American studies class that was opened for enrollment on the day the summer session began — and that instructor Nyang’oro did not show up to teach.
  • 6/2012 — UNC finds no other departments doing what AFAM was found to have done.
  • 7/2012 — Nyang’oro retires.
  • 7/2012 — A special subcommittee of UNC’s Faculty Executive Committee reports deep concerns in the faculty about how thoroughly athletes — especially those in the revenue-producing sports of basketball and football — participate in the academic life of the University.
  • 7/2012 — UNC acknowledges that Hakeem Nicks ’10 played his final season in 2008 while ineligible to be on the field. NCAA documents show that Nicks received improper academic help in spring 2008 and calls it “academic fraud.”
  • 8/2012 — The N&O reports on the transcript of former star football player Julius Peppers ’02. Grades on the transcript make it clear that Peppers was in danger of being declared ineligible to play but that his average was bolstered by high grades in African studies classes.
  • 9/2012 — Documents obtained by The N&O show freshmen football players enrolled in an upper-level African studies class — while some of them could not read or write at a college level. Included is a heavily plagiarized paper by a member of the football team.
  • 9/2012 — Thorp announces he will step down as chancellor effective June 30, 2013.
  • 11/2012 — Mary Willingham, who had worked in the academic support program for athletes, tells The N&O that UNC is admitting athletes who are unable to do college work.
  • 12/2012 — Former Gov. James Martin reports, following an investigation that UNC hired him to undertake, that Nyang’oro’s practice of getting approval for lecture courses that involved no lectures but a single paper due at the semester’s end started in 1997 — just months after AFAM was elevated from a curriculum to a department. Martin found patterns of faculty no-show classes that peaked in 2005-06 and then dropped precipitously — to near zero by 2009, the year Nyang’oro assistant Deborah Crowder ’75 retired.
  • 6/2013 — The N&O reveals email exchanges between Nyang’oro and academic counselors to athletes that strongly indicate that term-paper-only courses were arranged for the convenience of athletes. UNC System President Thomas Ross ’75 (JD) requests copies of the emails.
  • 6/2013 — The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools initially declares UNC out of compliance with accreditation principles, then declines to sanction, recommending that the University offer makeup classes to those who took the fraudulent AFAM classes.
  • Fall 2013 — Provost James Dean says he repeatedly had asked Willingham for documents from research she did for a master’s thesis on the subject of athletes and academics. Willingham says she had reached out about her data to Dean, Ross and Chancellor Carol L. Folt, with no response.
  • 12/2013 — Nyang’oro is indicted by a grand jury on a felony charge of obtaining property by false pretenses — specifically, taking $12,000 in pay he accepted despite not teaching a class.
  • Late 2013 or early 2014 — UNC’s Institutional Review Board pulls Willingham’s permit to do research. IRB had permitted her to do research but without permission to see individual names, which the IRB apparently didn’t think she needed. She characterizes this as a mistake on the IRB’s part, asking how she could have done this research without seeing names.
  • 1/2014 — Willingham asserts there was a basketball player who could not read or write. Coach Roy Williams ’72 denies this, then declines Willingham’s offer to meet with her.
  • 1/2014 — At a meeting of the Faculty Council, Provost Dean and Admissions Director Steve Farmer present extensive statistical evidence they say refutes Willingham’s assertions about reading ability of athletes at the time they are admitted to UNC. Willingham stands by her work.
  • 1/2014 — Former football player Michael McAdoo ’12 tells The N&O that his academic career  was a scam of courses designed to keep him eligible to play and presents himself as an victim of what happened in the case.
  • 2/2014 — The Orange County district attorney says Crowder will not be charged with crimes because she had agreed to cooperate in ongoing investigations.
  • 4/2014 — Three outside experts hired by UNC concur that Willingham’s research was not valid.
  • 5/2014 — Willingham resigns from UNC.
  • 6/2014 — Former basketball star Rashad McCants ’06 tells ESPN that he didn’t go to class, nearly flunked out and that his eligibility to play was saved by AFAM no-show classes.
  • 7/2014 — Charges against Nyang’oro are dropped in exchange for his cooperation in a new investigation by independent counsel Kenneth Wainstein.
  • 7/2014 — The NCAA reopens its investigation, anticipating new information gleaned through the Wainstein probe.
  • 10/2014 — Wainstein’s report places most of the onus on Crowder but also cites a number of key people whom the report says knew for years what Crowder was doing. It says that Jan Boxill, chair of the faculty from 2011 to earlier in 2014, “knew completely what these classes were all about and steered students to them.”
  • 10/2014 — UNC fires Boxill and three others and disciplines five others in response to the Wainstein report.
  • 11/2014 — SACS opens a new probe and says UNC withheld some information it had in 2012-13 dealings with SACS. UNC denies it knew anything relevant that it did not report to SACS.
  • 11/2014 — McAdoo sues UNC, saying that as an athlete he received a substandard education.
  • 1/2015 — Former athletes Rashanda McCants ’09 and Devon Ramsay ’12 sue the University, saying UNC did not deliver them the education it promised.
  • 3/2015 — UNC asks the court to dismiss McCants’ and Ramsay’s suit.
  • 5/2015 — The NCAA sends its Notice of Allegations to UNC.
  • 6/2015 — UNC is placed on probation for one year by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools after SACS’ second review of the academic fraud case and UNC’s action in response to it.
  • 7/2015 — SACS tells UNC it has yet to provide sufficient evidence that changes and initiatives arising from the case have been effective in correcting the situation.
  • 8/2015 — UNC reports two additional possible NCAA rules violations, necessitating a new Notice of Allegations from the NCAA.
  • 10/2015 — UNC estimates it has paid about $7.6 million to three law firms and a public relations agency for work related to the case.
  • 11/2015 — UNC fires two more people in the wake of the scandal, bans a former senior administrator from ever holding an administrative position at UNC again and clears three other staff members.
  • 2/2016 — A judge dismisses claims by two former UNC athletes who had sued the University saying they did not receive an adequate education.
  • 4/2016 — SACS officials visit UNC in preparation for a ruling on its probationary status expected in June.
  • 4/2016 — UNC receives a second Notice of Allegations from the NCAA.


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