North Carolina avoids major sanctions in academics fraud case

North Carolina avoids major sanctions in academics fraud case

The NCAA said in a release Friday the committee on infractions panel found two violations in this case - the former department chair and a former curriculum secretary failed to cooperate during the investigation. In many cases, athletes were steered to the classes by athletics academic advisers.

"While student-athletes certainly benefited from the courses and ASPSA assistance, the record indicates that similar assistance was generally available to all students", the NCAA report says.

In its latest notice of allegations, which is the NCAA equivalent of a lawsuit or indictment, the NCAA's enforcement staff pointed to the high enrollment of athletes in the classes - almost half, according to the university-commissioned investigation led by Kenneth L. Wainstein - and emails in which advisers requested spots for athletes. The courses were misidentified as lecture classes but didn't meet and required a research paper or two for typically high grades.

The NCAA had said UNC used those courses to help keep athletes eligible.

In the end, the NCAA agreed with UNC - though reluctantly - that the matter was out of governing body's jurisdiction.

"Based on the general availability and the lack of specific examples, the panel can not conclude a systemic effort to impermissibly benefit student-athletes", it said.

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"While student-athletes likely benefited from the courses, so did the general student body", said Sankey.

The allegations included a lack of institutional control, failure to monitor, and extra benefits in association with the courses. The football program received a one-year postseason ban, lost 15 scholarships over a three-year period and also was forced to vacate 15 wins in March of 2012. Still, Syracuse and head coach Jim Boeheim were punished significantly, at least by NCAA standards, while North Carolina got off free on a jurisdictional argument.

A few hours earlier, UNC scored a major and unexpected victory when the NCAA ended its seven-year investigation into the university's African and Afro-American Studies program without issuing any sanctions.

North Carolina hired Kenneth Wainstein in February of 2014 to work on an independent investigation into the scandal.

The other person, retired AFAM office administrator Deborah Crowder, initially refused interviews but reconsidered and interviewed with NCAA investigators in May as well as attended the school's hearing with the panel in August.

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