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Baker Tilly's work on UNC academic fraud scandal tops $900K

The final tally for the accounting firm UNC-Chapel Hill hired to delve into the academic fraud scandal and review various reforms is $941,000, a spokeswoman said last week.
UNC officials originally hired Baker Tilly, a national firm, to look at numerous reforms the university had put in place or planned to put in place after initially finding more than 50 lecture-style classes in the African studies department that never met, but only required a term paper instead.
They expanded the firm's work to assisting former Gov. Jim Martin in determining how far back the no-show classes went and why they happened in the first place. That report came out in December and was updated a few weeks later.
Like the prior internal report, the Martin report did not find an athletic scandal, but did find that the no-show classes and unauthorized grade changes went at least as far back as the mid 1990s.
Martin, a former Davidson College chemistry professor, worked at no charge, and only billed the university for his expenses.
In March, the university said it had spent roughly $490,000 on Baker Tilly. UNC spokeswoman Karen Moon said the remaining $450,000 largely reflected billings processed by the university since then.
According to a copy of UNC's agreement with Baker Tilly, the firm was to provide five employees at a combined cost of $1,520 per hour for the work.
Martin's report has drawn controversy. He and Baker Tilly had to back off of one of the report's key findings -- that athletics officials had raised questions about the African studies department's no-show classes only to be told by a faculty committee not to be concerned about the classes -- after they could not produce evidence in support of that conclusion from anyone other than the claims of the athletics officials and the university's faculty representative to the NCAA.
On Sunday, the News & Observer reported on email correspondence that challenged another finding, that the academic support program for athletes at UNC did not collaborate with African studies chairman Julius Nyang'oro or his department manager, Deborah Crowder, to create the no-show classes.
Moon said in an email response that the university stands by the work of Martin and Baker Tilly. "Their analysis was independent, objective and thorough," she said.
The Baker Tilly expenses, combined with money spent on outside public relations related to the scandal, means the university has spent more than $1.4 million on consultants to address the academic fraud.
Moon said all of that money is coming from a university foundation that takes in private donations, so no taxpayer dollars have been spent.

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