- When were the academic irregularities first discovered, and how did the University respond?
- Why did the University commission a new, independent inquiry in early 2014?
- Who is Kenneth Wainstein and why was he chosen in early 2014 to lead the independent inquiry?
- What were the key findings of Mr. Wainstein’s report?
- How much did you pay for this report, and where did the funds come from?
- What reforms have been put in place to prevent this wrongdoing from occurring again?
- What additional reforms will be put in place based on Mr. Wainstein’s report?
- Why did the NCAA reopen its previous investigation in June 2014?
- Has the University shared this report with its accreditation agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)?
- Where can I go to request public records cited in Mr. Wainstein’s report?
When irregularities within the department formerly known as African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) were first discovered in 2011, the University immediately self-reported the wrongdoing to the NCAA, and commissioned a series of inquiries to investigate and learn how these classes had developed. (See Reports & Resources tab for a detailed summary of these prior inquiries.)
Since both former AFAM department chair Julius Nyang’oro and former AFAM department administrator Deborah Crowder were unwilling to be interviewed for previous University inquiries due to a pending criminal investigation, previous reviews were unable to truly get to the bottom of what had happened, and, as a result, there were numerous unanswered questions.
At the end of 2013, the criminal investigation came to an end and the University learned that it would have access to Crowder, Nyang’oro and the information from the State Bureau of Investigation’s criminal investigation. Soon thereafter, in February 2014, the University retained Kenneth L. Wainstein to conduct an additional inquiry into how and why the academic irregularities came into existence, and who knew about them.
Kenneth L. Wainstein, a 19-year veteran of the U.S. Justice Department, was jointly selected by President Ross and Chancellor Folt to serve as an independent counsel and to conduct the inquiry. A partner with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in Washington, D.C., Mr. Wainstein has served as general counsel and chief of staff to the FBI, and was twice nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for leadership positions in the Justice Department. (See his biography for additional information.)
According to the report, Nyang’oro and Crowder were responsible for offering hundreds of irregular classes at UNC-Chapel Hill between 1993 and 2011. These so-called “paper classes” were irregular in that they had no class attendance or faculty involvement, and Ms. Crowder, a non-faculty administrator, managed the classes and graded the papers. Over the course of their 18-year existence, the irregular classes affected 3,100 out of a total of 97,600 undergraduate students who were enrolled at the University during that time period.
Student-athletes accounted for 47.6 percent of enrollments in the irregular classes. Many of the student-athletes were directed to the classes by counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes. These counselors saw the paper classes and the artificially high grades they yielded as key to helping some student-athletes remain eligible. Academic advisors in the Office of Academic Advising also directed non-athlete students to these courses.
Various University personnel were aware of red flags, yet did not ask questions. There was a failure of meaningful oversight by the University.
Mr. Wainstein’s investigation found no indication of wrongdoing in any academic departments beyond AFAM, that no current coaches were involved or aware and that the wrongdoing ended in 2011.
(See the executive summary of Mr. Wainstein’s report for additional information.)
President Ross and Chancellor Folt commissioned the independent, eight-month investigation by Kenneth Wainstein and his firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, to receive the most thorough and complete report possible into past academic irregularities at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The University has received an invoice for $3,111,385.17. That total includes $115,775.42 for expenses and reflects a $60,000 discount and an additional $68,662.50 fee write-off by the firm. The invoice also breaks out charges by firm employees who worked on the investigation.
These costs are being paid from excess unrestricted accumulated earnings from the UNC-Chapel Hill Foundation Inc. No state-appropriated funds or tuition dollars are being used.
Since first learning of these irregularities, the University has not stood still. Building on past investigations, it has begun to transform its culture, structure and policies from the top-down and the ground-up in order to ensure nothing like this can happen again.
This includes changes in admissions and preparedness; academic excellence and accountability; course integrity; risk management; advising and support; and athletics programs. (See Actions & Initiatives tab for additional information.)
Based on the lessons from Mr. Wainstein’s findings, the University will take the following actions and initiatives:
- Launch a new public records website (http://publicrecords.unc.edu/) to enhance accountability, responsiveness and efficiency around records requests.
- Add faculty to a group that reviews student-athlete eligibility and progress toward degree.
- Establish a working group to ensure there are clear, consolidated and confidential channels through which people can raise their hands and share concerns. The working group will also recommend how best to oversee the University’s commitment to integrity and compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and policies.
- Continue to align and advance existing advising and support programs for student-athletes, further integrating the delivery of academic and career advising to include intensive and early attention to major exploration and post-college opportunities.
- Conduct an institution-wide policy and procedure audit that will allow the University to identify any remaining redundancies and gaps, and create a mechanism for periodic re-evaluation.
- Develop and implement an expanded process for the systematic, consistent evaluation and review of every unit and department. The Provost or appropriate director will be authorized to launch a special department review as needed.
- Immediately implement a plan to stabilize the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies.
- Similarly, director of athletics Bubba Cunningham has been executing a plan to bolster integrity and accountability throughout the Athletics organization.
- Take fact-based personnel actions, including terminating or commencing disciplinary action against nine University employees. Others implicated in the report include former University employees.
(See Actions & Initiatives tab for additional information.)
The NCAA reopened its 2011 examination of academic irregularities after determining that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might now be willing to speak with the enforcement staff.
When the University retained Mr. Wainstein in February, it instructed him to share relevant information directly and confidentially with the NCAA, and based on his report the University knows that he did so. The University shared Mr. Wainstein’s report with the NCAA, and will continue to work with the organization on its investigation.
9. Has the University shared this report with its accreditation agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)?
The University has shared Mr. Wainstein’s report with SACSCOC. It will cooperate with SACSCOC to address any questions it may have after reviewing the report.
To enhance accountability, responsiveness and efficiency around records requests, we have launched a new public records website. That site is live now: http://publicrecords.unc.edu.