The NCAA's Committee on Infractions announced Friday morning that the University of North Carolina will not be punished for any academic misconduct. The NCAA responded that since the academics in question involved student athletes, it had full authority in the matter. The irregularities are focused on independent study-style courses misidentified as lecture classes that didn't meet and required a research paper or two while featuring significant athlete enrollments.
"While student-athletes likely benefited from the so-called "paper courses" offered by North Carolina, the information available in the record did not establish that the courses were exclusively created, offered and maintained as an orchestrated effort to benefit student athletes", said Greg Sankey, chief hearing officer for the NCAA panel that looked into the charges.
Sankey said the panel was "troubled" by the University's shifting opinions on whether the classes constituted academic fraud - but that NCAA policy defers this determination to member schools. The NCAA's investigation looked into courses Tar Heel athletes took between 2002-2011.
"As with any course that offers an easy path to a high grade, word of these classes got around", the report states.
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Beyond that, the NCAA also determined that the paper classes were not impermissible benefits.
The Committee on Infractions report said the University originally acknowledged what it say as "long-standing and egregious wrongdoing", only to pivot during the infractions processes. Two other charges pertained to former department chair/professor Julius Nyang'oro and former student services manager Deborah Crowder failing to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement staff requests - violating the NCAA principles of ethical conduct.
The allegations included a lack of institutional control, failure to monitor, and extra benefits in association with the courses.
The school had been alleged to have been cycling football and basketball players through non-existent courses in African American studies. 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.