Kenneth Wainstein, the special investigator hired by the University to look into issues surrounding academic fraud and its relationship to athletics, told the UNC System Board of Governors on June 20 that he hoped his work could be finished by this fall.
Wainstein, who was accompanied by two of his assistants, did not reveal any findings to the BOG — and he emphasized that neither is he sharing any findings with Carolina officials. He said his team had access to some information that was not available to previous investigators. He later confirmed he had been sharing findings with the NCAA.
“None of those investigations has had access to really the most critical information of anybody trying to investigate this set of circumstances,” he said. Wainstein has access to what the State Bureau of Investigation found in its criminal probe of Julius Nyang’oro, the former chair of what was then the department of African and Afro-American studies; in 2012, the department was renamed African, African-American and diaspora studies. Wainstein also has had the cooperation of Nyang’oro’s former assistant, Deborah Crowder ’75. On June 20, he told members of the news media that Nyang’oro also is cooperating.
Wainstein said his team has interviewed more than 80 people, some more than once, and has examined some 1.5 million emails and other electronic documents. The team has looked at thousands of student records, including transcripts.
His investigation is focused on the so-called “paper classes” in AFAM now classified as academically fraudulent, primarily because they consisted of term papers with no presence by faculty. He has asked what were the classes, how were they designed, how did they deviate from normal classes — even normal independent studies classes; and how long had this been going on, who was behind their creation, was anyone in the administration outside AFAM involved, how much work did students really do and did they interact with professors, and did students get improper assistance.
Wainstein said he also seeks to know about any role the athletics department played — did athletics help create and maintain the system of fraudulent classes or encourage the AFAM department to do so, and did athletics urge athletes to take the classes, and if so, why. He said he wants to know whether any UNC employees were aware of any scheme, and if so, what was the level of knowledge among faculty, advisers, people in athletics and others.
The BOG was offered the oppportunity to ask Wainstein questions on Friday, but none did.