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?