- When were the academic irregularities first discovered, and how did the University respond?
- Why did the University commission a new independent inquiry in 2014?
- Why was Kenneth Wainstein chosen to lead the 2014 investigation?
- What did Mr. Wainstein’s report conclude?
- How much did you pay for this report, and where did the funds come from?
- What reforms and actions have been put in place to prevent this wrongdoing from occurring again?
- Why did the NCAA reopen its previous investigation in June 2014?
- What is the status of the NCAA investigation?
- What is the status of the University’s accreditation with SACSCOC?
- How is the University demonstrating transparency about the academic irregularities?
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 then UNC 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 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. 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.)
Then UNC 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 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 were paid from excess unrestricted accumulated earnings from the UNC-Chapel Hill Foundation Inc. No state-appropriated funds or tuition dollars were used.
Since first learning of the past irregularities, which ended in 2011, the University has acted decisively on the findings of numerous independent and internal investigations and reviews to accept responsibility for the past, hold individuals accountable, and implement more than 70 wide-ranging reforms and initiatives. These comprehensive, campus-wide efforts have been aimed at transforming Carolina’s culture, structure and policies from the top down and ground up to prevent such irregularities from occurring again.
Key reforms generally cover six areas:
- Admissions and Preparedness: Enhancements to and transparency of the special-talent admissions process, and improved methods of assessing preparedness for academics.
- Academic Excellence and Accountability: Changes in reporting relationships, policies, and processes to improve accountability and standards for independent studies, expectations for faculty, and department chair reviews.
- Course Integrity: Processes, systems and reporting to ensure compliance and to audit course delivery, numbering of courses, assessment standards, grade changes, and clustering.
- Athletics Integrity: Standards for athletics oversight, changes to the Faculty Athletics Committee, increased staffing for institutional compliance, risk identification and management, and extensive reporting.
- Athletics Excellence and Accountability: Measures to enhance the student-athlete experience and strengthen collaboration through the faculty governance structure.
- Advising and Supporting: Improvements to maximize students’ academic opportunities and future success and better monitor student athletes’ academic progress.
For additional information, refer to https://carolinacommitment.unc.edu/actions-and-initiatives/ and https://carolinacommitment.unc.edu/updates/unc-chapel-hills-first-monitoring-report-responding-to-sacscoc/.
The NCAA reopened its 2011 review of academic irregularities as part of the prior investigation after determining that additional people with information and others who had been uncooperative might speak with the enforcement staff.
In May 2015, the University received the NCAA’s original notice of allegations from the joint investigation of the past academic irregularities, which ended in 2011.
In August 2015, the University notified the NCAA that, in preparing a response to the notice, it identified new information possibly requiring further review. That stopped the clock on the University’s deadline to respond to the original notice.
In April 2016, the University received the NCAA’s second notice of allegations.
In August 2016, the University submitted its response to the second notice to the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.
In October 2016, the University participated in a procedural hearing before the Committee on Infractions. Following the hearing, the panel requested the NCAA’s enforcement staff to revisit second notice of allegations.
In December 2016, the University received the NCAA’s third notice of allegations. For details and the University’s comments at the time, click here.
In May 2017, the University responded to the third notice of allegations and posted a public record copy to this website along with accompanying exhibits and correspondence subject to public records requests. Click here for the University’s response to the third notice and additional details.
In August 2017, University officials appeared before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in a closed, confidential hearing.
On October 13, 2017, the Committee on Infractions announced its decision. The panel found no NCAA bylaw violations by the University. Click here for Chancellor Carol L. Folt’s message to the campus
Carolina remains accredited by SACSCOC, which oversees academic standards, after providing information necessary for the regional accrediting agency to complete two reviews since 2012. In June 2016, SACSCOC validated the quality and effectiveness of the more the more than 70 reforms and actions instituted since 2011 when the irregularities ended. A yearlong review prompted the SACSCOC Board of Trustees to maintain our accreditation and remove Carolina from probation. For more information, refer to https://carolinacommitment.unc.edu/updates/message-from-chancellor-folt-carolina-off-probation/ and https://carolinacommitment.unc.edu/updates/unc-chapel-hills-first-monitoring-report-responding-to-sacscoc/.
Carolina takes its responsibility to adhere to North Carolina’s public records law very seriously and has taken significant steps over the past three years to enhance accountability, responsiveness and efficiency around records requests.
In 2016, our Public Records Office created this new online platform after a review of best practices across the country to make it easy to request public records and to see how the staff responds. This innovation helped reduce our volume of open records requests by 80 percent in just eight months and cut the time to process a request by 70 percent.
The new online platform followed the University’s initial creation of a website devoted to public records in October 2014 in conjunction with the release of the Wainstein Report.
In June 2017, we posted to this website an eighth and final batch of emails and documents gathered during the 2014 independent investigation led by Kenneth Wainstein in response to the two largest public records requests in University history from The News & Observer and The Daily Tar Heel.
With that final posting of over 500,000 pages, the University had released more than 1.828 million pages of emails and documents from the investigation since October 2015. Those pages came from over 1 million documents. The University must review every page of a document to protect privacy rights and, if necessary, to redact or withhold confidential information.
These two requests targeted investigation materials Wainstein’s law firm used to compile a database of about 1.7 million unique records, including emails and documents, totaling about 5 million pages. Because Wainstein’s firm already gathered the investigation records, state law did not permit the University to charge the requesters for the cost of review or redaction.
All eight of the Wainstein batches are available in a searchable format. Carolina previously published 1,129 pages of exhibits and supplementary materials to the Wainstein investigation when that report was released in 2014.
In addition, the University has posted on this website hundreds of pages of reports, documents, exhibits and other materials related to progress with the more than 70 reforms and initiatives, the two accreditation reviews by SACSCOC, and the joint NCAA investigation.
The University must review every page of a document to protect privacy rights and, if necessary, to redact or withhold confidential information.