College Sports

What’s missing in the NCAA’s case against UNC

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations against UNC in the academic fraud case relies heavily on prior university investigations, particularly that of Kenneth Wainstein, a former federal prosecutor. But there were aspects of the scandal the NCAA did not take up, including:

▪  Wainstein’s report cited improper activity as far back as 1993, but the NCAA’s report begins with the fall of 2002 through the summer of 2011. It’s unclear why, but that timeframe knocks out one of the most significant pieces of evidence in the scandal – the transcript of former football and basketball player Julius Peppers, now one of the NFL’s top defensive players.

▪  Wainstein found 329 students would have had a GPA below a 2.0 for at least one semester were it not for paper classes. More than half were athletes. There is no such analysis in the NCAA’s report.

▪  Wainstein found that Debby Crowder, the architect of the paper classes, began disguising them as lecture-style in 1999 to help athletes and other students get around what was believed to be a limit on the number of independent studies one could use toward a degree. The NCAA doesn’t report a problem with those limits until the fall of 2006, when the university clarified its definition of an independent study.

▪  Wainstein found numerous examples of papers submitted by athletes and other students that were heavily plagiarized. The report does not cite any athletes for academic misconduct over plagiarized papers.

▪  Shortly after Wainstein’s report, the NCAA received evidence that a football player was admitted into graduate school after the start of the 2003-04 academic year despite having no graduate exam and a low GPA. He skipped classes, exams and assignments and flunked out in one semester, but played nearly all the football games that season. That led an academic official to write an angry letter to John Blanchard, a former senior associate athletic director. The case draws no mention in the report. The former graduate school admissions director who provided the evidence declined to be interviewed.