From an editorial Friday in the (Greensboro) News & Record:
When Butch Davis was hired to coach football at the University of North Carolina in 2007, he had the wrong idea.
“Coach Davis came to Chapel Hill with the expectation that he would find a strong infrastructure for maintaining high academic standards among the players,” Kenneth Wainstein’s report said. Davis “quickly realized that there was lots of talk about the importance of academics without anything to back up that talk. He found Chapel Hill’s attitude toward student-athlete academics to be like an ‘Easter egg,’ beautiful and impressive to the outside world, but without much life inside.”
Wainstein, a former top Justice Department official, was hired by the university to get to the bottom of a long-simmering academic scandal. He did, and it was deplorable. His report, issued Wednesday, uncovered a remarkably simple scheme by an administrative assistant in the African and Afro-American Studies Department, Deborah Crowder, to “help” struggling students. She was aided by a compliant department head, Julius Nyang'oro, and got away with it for 16 years because of an astounding lack of institutional oversight.
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There were levels of complicity, Wainstein discovered. Jan Boxill, former chairwoman of the faculty, steered athletes into paper classes. Three football counselors and a basketball counselor participated. Several coaches, including Davis and basketball coach Roy Williams, should have known. Administrators should have found out.
Media reports and previous investigations revealed some of this information, and the university responded with policies and procedures meant to make sure that every class offered is legitimate – as if that ever should have been a question.
In addition, the university must further limit enrollments of “academic exceptions” – mostly athletes who just don’t belong. It must make coaches accountable for the academic progress of their players. It must make department heads accountable for the integrity of every course.
The damage is heavy. The university must decide whether it really wants to maintain high academic standards for athletes. No one will be fooled by the “Easter egg” again.