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An interesting take on UNC b-ball graduations from the Indianapolis Star

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An Indianapolis Star report two years ago on basketball team graduation rates is catching attention today in light of  the academic fraud case at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The report notes that seven of the players on UNC-Chapel Hill's 2005 championship team who had graduated by the time the story was published all received the same degree -- a bachelor of arts in African and Afro-American Studies.

The Star interviewed Sean May, who was the center for the team, and his comments have a particular resonance today, with the university now acknowledging a major academic fraud case in that department involving classes with little or no instruction. Many of these classes have high enrollments of athletes in the two big money sports -- basketball and football.

According to the Star: 'May said he started as a double major with communications, but dropped it so he could graduate faster after leaving for the NBA.Afro-American and African studies, May said, offered "more independent electives, independent study. I could take a lot of classes during the season. Communications, I had to be there in the actual classroom. We just made sure all the classes I had to take, I could take during the summer."'

May left the school for the NBA following the 2005 championship, but collected his degree four years later. It's unclear what classes he took or who taught them. The academic fraud centers on the former chairman, Julius Nyang'oro, who is being allowed to retire effective July 1.

The Star's report said the high number of African studies graduates on the basketball team raises issues of "clustering," in which athletes are steered to a particular course of instruction because it's easier to accomplish. But John Blanchard, UNC-CH's senior associate athletics director in charge of student-athletes services, told the Star that wasn't the case.

"The question is whether they are getting a good education," he said, "and the answer is a resounding yes."

May is one of more than a dozen prominent athletes listed as Facebook friends with Deborah Crowder, the former administrative assistant for the department who has declined to be interviewed by university officials investigating the academic fraud.

The Star's report can be found here.


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More evidence of something

More evidence of something really bad going on in Chapel Hill. Little bits of truth continue to seep out despite herculean efforts to keep information hidden from the public.

It's time for an independent investigation

One with subpeona power

Clustering ......

clustering?....clustering?.....getting a good education.....majoring in a curriculum and in a department that is admittedly full of academic fraud.    Something just do seem right to me.

UNC tipped off?

If you start tracking timelines of reassignments and dismissals  of academic support staff this is really starting to look like UNC was tipped off about the NCAA snooping around and UNC knew there was a problem. They did not self - report the infractions and may have even sold out football to save the crown jewel BB. If I was a reporter I would really start laying out a timeline that UNC was already in damage control before the NCAA ever set foot on campus.

"Former athlete" could

"Former athlete" could actually be a category unto itself. Doesn't quite fit neatly as "athlete" or "non-athlete". Full disclosure would necessitate constructing a new category - "former athlete". Or is there some unwritten rule - only 2 categories?  Isn't UNC making the rules as they go?  Considering that "former athletes" continuing their education is actually beneficial to the athletic program (maintaining NCAA standing), logic would say (given only 2 categories to choose) to be most reflective of reality, they would be placed into the "athlete" group. But this would not benefit the narrative that the UNC administration is trying to promote... No favoritism, AA Studies for everyone. For UNC  to skirt the ethical lines, you've gotta think "former athlete" numbers would significantly tip the balance. Maybe the "true" numbers are not like those I was playing with... or maybe they are. We just don't know. UNC isn't telling us. And there is a reason they're not telling us. There's always a reason. 


"Clustering".  That sounds about right.

Cheaters in the classroom, cheaters in life.


Just doesn't stop.  Incredible really, not that it happens, but how its playing out for such a deserving bunch.  Always looking down their noses, always preaching about how they do things the right way, "graduating players", "academic standards", and now the current ACC commissioner Swofford, it musnt' be forgotten how he led the charge to further censure Clemson and the brow-beating he must have given FSU must have induced epic shudders.

Dan Kane for Pulitzer

Btw, where are all the north carolina papers and WRAL, WTVD etc. in doing ANYthing to get some accountability and hold people's feet to the fire.  It's a thankless job Dan and the N&O, but i thank you.

Non-Student Athletes

I would be interested in knowing the enrollment numbers for these abberant and fraudulent courses if former student athletes were broken out as a seperate category instead of lumped into "Not student-athlete". By UNC's own admission in the SS II 2011 - AFAM 280 course, we know that a former football player was counted as a "not student-athlete". I wonder how many former athletes coming back to earn their degrees took these courses, or athletes that left the program but whose graduation will help teams keep their APR up. If I had to make a guess, I'd say that 58% "student athlete" would rise considerably.

I wonder how UConn feels about missing the NCAA basketball tourney next year?

Just something to think about.

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About the blogger

Dan Kane has covered local and state government and N.C. State University at The News & Observer since joining our staff in 1997. Most recently, he and J. Andrew Curliss teamed to report “The Missing Money,” a three-part series that explored the state's growing number of tax breaks and the related rising revenue loss. Kane's reporting also exposed one of the worst academic fraud cases in U.S. higher education history at UNC-Chapel Hill. Contact him at or 919-829-4861