Campus Free Speech

Report: Advisors, Profs Created 18 Years of Academic Fraud at UNC


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For 18 years, academic advisors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pushed athletes to enroll in "shadow courses" that never actually met and only required participants to write an end-of-term paper—a paper that was never graded or even read.

The latest report on the long-running con in UNC's Department of African and Afro-American Studies pins much of the blame on Deborah Crowder, who managed the department until 2011. From the News & Observer:

"Between 1993 and 2011, Crowder and Nyang'oro developed and ran a 'shadow curriculum' within the AFAM Department that provided students with academically flawed instruction through the offering of 'paper classes,'" the report said. "These were classes that involved no interaction with a faculty member, required no class attendance or course work other than a single paper, and resulted in consistently high grades that Crowder awarded without reading the papers or otherwise evaluating their true quality."

Two counselors even suggested to Crowder what grades to give to the athletes.

The report did not find significant fault with university or athletic leadership. UNC President Tom Ross and Chancellor Carol Folt expressed "disappointment" that some people in the campus community knew about the scope of the problem but did nothing about it for years.

The fact that this deception involved so many students and advisors over so many years is staggering. One wonders whether the athletic-industrial complex was particularly bad at UNC, or whether similar frauds are ongoing at other public institutions of higher learning.

The college bubble better hurry up and pop, huh?

NEXT: Sen. Coburn Takes Aim Again at Wasteful Federal Spending

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  1. One wonders? Which one is that? I suspect many of us don’t wonder at all, being already convinced by life experiences. The kind it’s hard to get college credit for for most people.

  2. This probably only took place at UNC. It probably took place only over those 18 years, too. It’s a good thing this kind of fraud was so limited. Imagine if people lost faith in the academic credentials of Division 1 athletes?

    1. Dee-fense!

    2. I’m sure everybody in the SEC is a bit nervous right now. It’s the hellmouth of sham education

      1. I would be shocked to find such impropriety at my alma mater. Shocked I tell you. Maybe at the other school in the state.

        /blind squirrel

    3. Not like UNC isn’t a good academic institution, either, so this hints that it’s pretty much endemic, I think.

      1. I worked as an academic tutor in the athletics department of a DI school. I wasn’t tutoring revenue sport athletes, for the most part, but I can honestly say that it was made really, really, really clear that we were not to do anything that might even faintly resemble dishonest. I’m not saying stuff didn’t happen, but I certainly didn’t see it, and I’d be really shocked if academic affairs was the instigator. That’s one data point, though.

        1. I think they try to keep their hands clean, letting others do the wrong things wherever possible.

      2. The opposite, I’d think. UNC was notorious for accepting and never having ineligible kids who were… not the best students. Different reputation from Duke or Stanford.

        1. Not that I’m saying there isn’t a lot of it across the country, just that UNC is the place it was most obviously going on.

    4. Scholar athletes, warty. They are scholars first.

  3. At my alma mater (University of Maryland at College Park), one of the profs I liked reported he was under sever pressure to give a decent grade to a football player who never showed up to class and never turned anything in.

    After the prof explained to the dean that there was no way in hell that guy was getting anything other than an F, the athlete was given special dispensation to drop the class. It was the first and to my knowledge the last time an athlete was enrolled in his class where the athlete did no work.

    My guess is that the athletics department knew which professors were corruptible and which weren’t, and signed students up accordingly. I expect it was run like the mafia, once a professor did them a favor, they owned his/her ass.

    1. It’s amazing, the lengths people will go to to preserve the fiction that D1 sports are anything other than a professional minor league.


        /football player with English major

      2. Pish posh! Those degrees in Zeppelin Spotting and Cheerleader Boffing will serve those athletes well after graduation.

      3. Seriously. Just drop the fiction and make it a true minor league.

        1. Minor leagues don’t have alumni to keep them going with massive contributions.

          1. I’m pretty sure the top programs could get by selling tickets, tv rights, souvenirs, etc.

            1. Yeah, and it’s not like the boosters are going to stop boosting.

        2. What and actually pay the players generating all this money? Are you crazy?

  4. It’s not like a class from the Department of African and Afro-American Studies isn’t a total waste of time anyway. So, when are they going to start revoking the academic degrees of every athlete who received credit for these non-classes?

    1. Taken many classes on those topics and found them wanting, I gather?

      1. I have taken a west African history class, as the only white male in the class the professor always thought it would be funny to call on me. Especially when the topic of slavery came up.

        1. “I do not, nor have I ever owned slaves. My ancestors also did not own slaves, being too dirt poor to afford them. In fact, the institution of slavery kept them out of work and in poverty. So I will not accept your claim of collective guilt.”

          1. Actually, everyone has ancestors that owned slaves, including Africans.

            The institution was almost universal and those few cultures that did not have slaves inevitably interbred with cultures that did.

            1. If you can find records predating the 1500s to state that my poverty-stricken line had anything other than the short end of the stick, I might change my tune, but regardless, we’ve got 500 years of nothin’

        2. …at which point you would mention the white Irish slaves.

          1. I’m pretty sure I am descended from feudal warlord. Do serfs count as slaves? Even if they were white?

          2. He was actually a funny guy, he was west African himself and just enjoyed making people as uncomfortable as possible.

        3. Some of my ancestors owned slaves, and there are times I wish I had some. But not based on race. No. But on their ability to do shit for me so I don’t have to do it.

          Since enslaving people is morally wrong, I await robot slaves.

      2. Yes tony, the people making $30,000 a year in North Carolina pay taxes to support the state university system to ensure that the state has an adequate supply of Afro Studies majors, not doctors or nurses or engineers or anything like that. The state, like any other, runs on afro studies majors and spending tax money to create them is one of the highest goods a state can do.

        1. Just for the record, while people hereabouts often talk about killing government schools in K-12, I’m just as interested in doing the same for public universities. Privatize the lot of them.

          1. At a minimum, eliminate all federal funding.

            1. Yes, but I want the states out of it, too.

              1. Why not just want your state out of it, and leave other people to make their own choices?

      3. Yes Tony, I have had to take an “African-American Studies” class, have you? It was basically state-sanctioned and state-funded bigotry towards anyone not black. Everything is everyone else’s fault, and the “black man”, isn’t responsible for anything; not even the children he sires, because “the white man”, and some other stupid shit.

  5. At another ACC school (Go Hoos!) there were definitely classes catering to athletes (at least 20-ish yrs ago). “Intro to Nazi Germany”, nothing but basketball and football players. Nothing but “A”s.

    1. I wonder who else gave an intro to Nazi Germany?

      1. William Shirer?

        1. That book sucks.

          1. What? What are you, some sort of Illinois Nazi?

            1. No, but it does suck. It’s a lousy piece of history in my opinion. Poorly written and just one big editorial on how bad the Nazis were – which is kinda obvious.

              1. No, you suck. Everyone, come abuse Restoras.

                First, someone doesn’t read Dune. Now, someone doesn’t like Shirer. What is this blog coming to?

                1. Hey at least I read Shirer! I said I’d read Dune! I promise!

                  1. Read Dune now, then read and provide a book report on The Collapse of the Third Republic: An Inquiry into the Fall of France in 1940.

                    1. I just started Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism by Pestritto, can I finish that first? I read To Lose a Battle by Alistair Horne, can I get a pass on The Collapse of the Third Republic?

                    2. No, no passes. What do you think this is, some liberal arts class? No, this is Hit & Run.

                2. First, someone doesn’t read Dune. Now, someone doesn’t like Shirer. What is this blog coming to?

                  Frank Herbert was a crap writer. I read Dune mainly because of the visual aesthetic of the Lynch version. I described it as something crapped out by a blend of Timothy Leary and Machiavelli when I was being generous. In terms of entertainment value, the prequels were far and away better.

                  1. Uh-oh. I sense trouble brewing on this thread…

                    1. I tried to read Dune once. I got bored and gave up an hour later.

                    2. Maybe you have to get through the first 20 pages before it gets good?

                    3. Maybe you have to get through the first 20 pages 6 books before it gets good?

                      Fixed that for you.

                    4. You broke my heart, Warty. You broke my heart!

                  2. Ah, a demonstration of psychosis. Fascinating. Tell me only the good things about your mother.

                  3. the prequels were far and away better

                    You’re dead to me, DEAD

                    1. You’re dead to me, DEAD

                      Well, I am the owner of a black lantern ring that found me (I didn’t buy it, it literally just showed up one day), so I might be.

                    2. I hope that Brian Herbert writes you into his “novels.”

                    3. I thought Dune was better than

          2. Alternate suggestion:

            The Arms of Krupp by William Manchester

      2. It’s Hitler, okay? It’s always Hitler! Every single time someone asks that question the answer is Hitler!



        /needed to rant about something

        1. True story: In the early 1920s, a young man named Bolph Schicklgruber was a wide receiver for the University of Georgia football team for one season. Although this information has since been suppressed, his real name was Adolf Hitler.

        2. You know who else ranted about Hitler?

            1. Blaaarghhh. . . .

  6. ” The latest report on the long-running con in UNC’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies…”

    They probably learned more sitting in the dorm and playing Halo than they would have in a “real” class in that subject.

  7. ” The latest report on the long-running con in UNC’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies…”

    They probably learned more sitting in the dorm and playing Halo than they would have in a “real” class in that subject.

  8. Anybody else struck by the irony of the black studies department having “shadow classes”?


  9. a paper that was never graded or even read.

    I don’t really care if the classes never actually meet as long as the end paper is actually graded, I mean at least pretend a little harder.

    1. The only thing that affects the grade is the paper itself. Did you print it on thick, good quality, organic free-range non-dolphin-murder recycled paper?


      1. “Dolphin Murder Paper” would make an adequate name for a rock’n’roll band.

  10. College football and basketball are too damn big and are a money suck for most schools. Plus the NCAA is corrupt and needs to go.

  11. One wonders whether the athletic-industrial complex was particularly bad at UNC, or whether similar frauds are ongoing at other public institutions of higher learning.

    One could also wonder whether Jezebel wants a rational debate about sex.

    1. I wonder a lot of things – like how this structure for a fixed-volume lung I came up with would work in real life – but I also write fiction. (the lung is for larger exoskeletal creatures where the body can’t change size)

        1. Multi-chambered lung with an internal diaphragm so that half the chambers were always inhaling, half were always exhaling, but for half the cycle it was simply moving air from the first set of chambers to the second set with no gas transfer with the outside. It’s closest relative might be the book lung, but I didn’t know they existed until after I’d come up with the design.

          1. Seems a bit inefficient. Nothing prevents something with an exoskeleton from having internal volume changes, though. If you want efficient, you can always go the avian route:


            Seems like you’ve just got two parallel Diaphragm Pumps with a shared diaphragm.

  12. “UNC President Tom Ross and Chancellor Carol Folt expressed “disappointment”

    I wonder what the expression will be when both of your asses get fired? (Vain hope?)

    Wasn’t there a time in the distant past when people in charge were actually “in charge”?

    1. Vain hope?


    2. Wasn’t there a time in the distant past when people in charge were actually “in charge”?

      We’ve transitioned. Progress!

  13. Most college graduates wouldn’t deck their fianc? in a hotel elevator or try to go clubbing with a Glock in their waistband.

    1. How would you know this? Did you poll the Millenials, or something?

  14. Overall, I feel most sorry for the students, who were lured to UNC (as well as other schools that carry out the same charage) in return for lottery-ticket odds of getting into a professional sports league and received a sub-standard education in return.

    For most, the result is no pro career and no career prospects due to a worthless ‘degree’.

    1. But the fans and alumni were happy for those 4 years. That’s what counts.

    2. Don’t. They did what they loved for three or four years. Playing sports, parties, drinking and sex.

      1. Exactly. Ask any 28-year old with a year of D-III hockey remaining and no future in the sport why they are going to school and you’ll hear, “To play as long as I can.”

    3. What? Former athletes have excellent prospects in a diverse number of fields including: Gameday Radio Ads, Non-Gameday Radio Ads, BBQ Restaurant Spokesperson, Billboard Model, “Broadcasting” and Car Salesman.

      1. I met a guy in Gainesville who had been an All-American tailback or something like that who had gotten an alumni-arranged mailman job. He either got injured or wasn’t up to pro standards, not sure which. This was many years later, in any case.

    4. Can they demand their money back? Isn’t that what tweens demanded when they discovered Milli Vanilli was a sham so many years ago?

    5. I don’t. They were adults and most of them had nothing better to do anyways. They got to spend 4 years at a nice college banging an unending stream of eager co-eds before they went to work at the local fast food chain. The alternative was they skipped the celebrity and the co-eds and went right to flipping the burgers.

      1. I really respect the athletes who end up getting a real degree and still manage to make the team. One that I remember was Craig Krenzel at tOSU. Half the time, the broadcasters couldn’t even say his major, let alone know what it it was. (molecular genetics and oncology research). It puts the sports studies majors to shame when the starting qb can average a 3.75 and be starting qb for the football team.

      2. banging an unending stream of eager co-eds

        My junior year of my undergrad some of friends of mine and I were in a University-owned apartment. One of my friends was in the bedroom that shared a wall with the neighboring apartment.

        The neighboring apartment was full of football players.

        My friend told me just about every night at about five before 1 AM a woman came over. At two minutes to 1 the neighbor’s bed started squeaking. At exactly 1 AM, my friend told me he’d hear grunting and groaning and then the noise would stop. A few minutes afterwards he’d hear the woman leave the neighboring apartment.

        My friend was insistent about the times. I asked him if he was serious, the times sounded two exact. My friend said, “You can set your clock to it.” My friend was also pretty certain it was a different woman every time.

        I don’t know whatever happened to those football players next door after they graduated. I don’t even remember their names.

        1. They’re the illegitimate fathers of the athletes in this UNC case.

    6. Maybe. If they were forced to take these bullshit classes, then yes. If they chose to, then no. They cheated themselves.

      1. I’d imagine it’s a little of both. I’m sure there are plenty of guys actually challenging themselves. I’m sure there are also plenty of guys who either took the easy way or the coaches told them to because there was no chance of them remaining eligible.

      2. My understanding is that at least at the big schools, the players are strongly discouraged from pursuing any sort of academic workload. Playing college football is pretty much a full time job for these guys.

  15. Canadian Chicana and Lesbian Studies: now that’s a real major. (and while it is perfectly respectable as an area of specialization for post-grad work, I’ve always wondered why entire departments are created for these rather obscure specialty focus areas. I mean, doesn’t PoliSci already exists?)

    1. They are for the Airing of Grievances.

    2. Like my discipline of Applied Linguistics, Area Studies are basically a creation of the Cold War-era Intelligence community.

  16. So, is the NCAA going to bring the hammer down? Hmm….

  17. The college bubble better hurry up and pop, huh?

    It popped several months ago, the air is just leaking out slowly.

    It’s more like a college balloon, really.

  18. My first and only college roommate was a football player. All he had on his bookshelves were trophies and giant cannisters of Speed Stick.

    The haphazard way in which he stuffed all his clothing [including a suit] into his chest of drawers made it painfully obvious his mother had taken care of his every need for his entire life.

    Once while he was in Tokyo with the football team, my gf and I went through his class notebooks. There was nothing in them but crude drawings of the female nude…and he wasn’t in any art classes.

    Last time I looked him up, he was practicing family law. How that happened, I haven’t a clue.

  19. I think it’s critically important to note that the researcher who blew the whistle on this was suspended by UNC and viciously smeared by the academic and athletic establishment there as a racist pig whose research quality was lower than phrenology.

    Because as usual whenever anything might stop the oppressed masses from getting stuff they haven’t earned, the progs fly out and shout RACIST RACIST RACIST.

    It’s the only card they have and the only game they know.

    1. Are you a UNC alum?

      1. No, but I’ve watched this story unfold over time.

        I hope Mary Willingham rapes these motherfuckers AND the taxpayers of North Carolina.

    2. “the researcher who blew the whistle on this was suspended by UNC and viciously smeared by the academic and athletic establishment there “

      There’s no mention of that in the (detailed) Observer piece linked there.

      They make it sound as though this guy Kenneth Wainstein was the beginning and end of the whole thing.

      I’m not surprised by what you describe – just noting that they don’t seem to even touch on the fact that anyone lost their jobs or were suspended

  20. I honestly don’t care about any of this I just wanna watch the best athletes compete in college sports. Just shutup and take my money.

    1. I believe they are taking your money.

      Whether you watch the games or not.

  21. We don’t have to pay athletes because they are getting an education.

  22. I wonder how faculty feel about outing an African-American program, even if they were against the corruption?

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