UNC prof, advisers had cozy relationship
by Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports
Newly released emails reveal the informal and cozy relationship between North Carolina’s academic support staff in the athletics department and the former head of the university’s African studies department, undercutting claims made by UNC’s outgoing chancellor, Holden Thorp, and other school officials that staff members never worked with the department to create classes designed to maintain eligibility for student-athletes.
The emails, obtained by The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., show members of UNC’s Academic Support Program for Student Athletes offering Julius Nyang’oro, then chairman of the African studies department, tickets to games and negotiating to create a “no-show” class — a lecture-style class turned into independent studies.
In one email exchange, a support staff member told Nyang’oro he would be “guest coaching” for a UNC home football game, meaning he would stand along the sideline with the team.
In another, Cynthia Reynolds, who oversaw academic support for UNC football players, said to Nyang’oro that “I hear you are doing me a big favor this semester and that I should be bringing you lots of gifts and cash???????” Reynolds also offered to meet with Nyang’oro over a “phone call, meeting or drinks, whichever you prefer” to discuss student assignments in AFAM 396, one of the independent study classes in Nyang’oro’s department.
A third email showed how a tutor submitted to Debbie Crowder, the department manager, very detailed outlines of the 10-page papers students would have to write for two classes in 2005; both classes included a high number of student-athletes. According to The News & Observer, UNC records show 15 students enrolled in AFAM 396; 11 of the 15 were athletes.
“This is additional confirmation that there was far too cozy a relationship between the academic advisers in the athletic department and Nyang’oro and Crowder,” Peter Hans, chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, told The News & Observer.
The emails show details not contained in the university’s 2012 investigation into the allegations of academic fraud, which came to the conclusion that student-athletes did not solely benefit from grading anomalies because non-athletes also received high grades.
“This was not an athletic scandal,” former North Carolina Gov. … [For more on Report: UNC prof, academic advisers had cozy relationship, click here.]