UNC Basketball Investigation

UNC releases amended NOA

CHAPEL HILL — A newly released amended Notice of Allegations from the NCAA doesn’t allege any wrongdoing in the UNC men’s basketball and football programs, instead focusing on misconduct in the AFAM department from 2005-2011 and impermissible academic assistance administered by Jan Boxill to the women’s basketball program from 2003-2010.

The revised document, which is largely similar to the first NOA delivered to UNC in May 2015, comes nearly eight months after UNC submitted more possible violations related to the women’s basketball program and men’s soccer program to the NCAA related to the investigation in August.

“Probably the only explanation is this is maybe the most complicated, involved case in history, certainly in our history,” said UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham, explaining the delay in receiving the amended NOA. “ There’s been a ot of reporting and investigation. The NCAA is completing their work by releasing their notice … The volume and the time is probably why it’s lasted this long.”

The first document specifically named the men’s basketball and football programs for receiving the extra academic help along with women’s basketball. However, the revised document, released Monday afternoon and replaces the old one, does not have any mention of the two programs in the five allegations of Level I violations.

From the first document’s lack of institutional control allegation:

The AFRI/AFAM department created anomalous courses that went unchecked for 18 years. This allowed individuals within ASPSA to use these courses through special arrangements to maintain the eligibility of academically at-risk student-athletes, particularly in the sports of football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. Although the general student body also had access to the anomalous AFRI/AFAM courses, student-athletes received preferential access to these anomalous courses, enrolled in these anomalous courses at a disproportionate rate to that of the general student body and received other impermissible benefits not available to the general student body in connection with these courses.

That phrase was absent in the amended document. Women’s basketball, however, was mentioned five times.

Wayne Walden, an academic advisor for the men’s basketball program at both Kansas and UNC, was mentioned in the first NOA for his correspondence with Debbie Crowder, but his name was not found in the amended NOA.

The lack of men’s basketball and football in the new notice of allegations is a huge break for the two programs as they’ve gone through recruiting struggles with the cloud of unknown allegations hanging around Chapel Hill. With the disappearance of the two programs from the NOA, the likelihood for dramatic punishments like scholarship loss and vacated wins drops significantly.

Cunningham wouldn’t comment on the absence of the two revenue programs, instead focusing on the five serious allegations that the school still faces.

“My concern are the five violations or alleged violations that we have to respond to,” Cunningham said. “As far as being surprised, I’m concerned about the five that I have. We’ve got five Level Is, lack of institutional control and failure to monitor. That’s where I’m going to spend my time and focus.”

Cunningham did note that the investigation has limited recruiting for the athletic teams, but said the student-athletes have handled it well.

“I do think that the length of time that the investigation, the internal investigation, the external reviews and investigations that have been done have been taxing and draining on the institution, have hurt us in recruiting in a couple different ways,” Cunningham said.”But the thing i’m encouraged by is the student-athletes and the success we’ve been having lately … The NOA ranges from 2003-Aug 2011, we’re looking at a difficult period in our history. The current student athletes have done a remarkable job athletically and academically.”

Men’s soccer, which reported a possible recruiting violation in the new information sent in August, was not named in the new NOA. The program has already been adjudicated through the NCAA enforcement staff and was issued a Level III violation and has some recruiting restrictions, Cunningham said in a teleconference Monday afternoon.

The original tag of ‘impermissible benefits’ given to athletes is now being termed ‘impermissible academic assistance,’ pointing directly to former philosophy professor and women’s basketball academic counselor Boxill for her extra aide to women’s basketball players.

Boxill was named in the second allegation of the 2015 NOA, but in the amended edition, her efforts to assist the women’s basketball program are the primary focus of the first allegation.

Along with 32 mentions of her name in the amended NOA, the NCAA specifically details 14 instances of Boxill’s impermissible academic assistance including adding content to athletes’ papers for classes and completing quizzes.

Boxill resigned from the university in March 2015.

The second and third allegations of the new NOA target the lack of cooperation of Crowder and Julius Nyang’oro, the two primary people in the AFAM department responsible for coordinating independent study-style ‘paper’ classes that required little to no work or attendance and inflated grades. Both were the subjects of allegations in the first release.

The fourth allegation deals with the lack of supervision of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, Boxill and AFAM department from 2005-2011.

From the amended NOA:

The nature of these anomalous courses went undetected or was known and not addressed due to the institution’s failure to sufficiently monitor the department’s operations and students’, including student-athletes’, enrollment in such courses. The department did not adequately document independent study course offerings, and the college of arts and sciences failed to effectively address the use of these courses by students, including student-athletes.

Despite concerns by some at the institution that Boxill’s relationship with the women’s basketball student-athletes may have been too close, the institution did not monitor Boxill or determine whether her conduct violated institutional rules or NCAA bylaws. As a result, Boxill provided extra benefits in the form of impermissible academic assistance to women’s basketball student-athletes over multiple years.

The fifth allegation, same as the fifth in the original document, charges UNC with a lack of institutional control for failure to monitor everything laid out in allegations 1-4.

From the amended NOA:

When individuals brought concerns to the attention of then leaders both on campus and within athletics, those leaders had multiple opportunities to investigate the AFRI/AFAM course anomalies and student-athletes’ exposure to those courses. However, the institution failed to exert control when it did not recognize and sufficiently investigate these practices. Both campus and the athletics department administrators’ reactions and responses to those opportunities were inadequate and ineffective, creating the conditions and opportunities that made possible the violations described in Allegation Nos. 1 and 4. As a result of the failure of leadership and the lack of corrective action, problems within the AFRI/AFAM department and athletics were allowed to continue for multiple years.

Further, the institutional leadership did not provide adequate guidance and supervision to those employed within ASPSA. Because of this failure in leadership and oversight, those charged with providing academic support for student-athletes did not believe their actions or the actions of the AFRI/AFAM department were inappropriate. The institution’s failure to take necessary steps to provide adequate oversight of the anomalous AFRI/AFAM courses resulted in an investigation, analysis and ultimately disciplinary action taken against the institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, its accrediting agency.

“I think that all of the things we have done on our campus for the last four years, since we had our final adjudication in March 2012 was to shore up policies and procedures and make sure to see how we attend to all the by laws and make sure we operate within the principles of the NCAA,” Cunningham said.

“Failure to monitor and institutional control are things we’ve worked on for four years. We feel confident in our systems but we’re always concerned that we’re human and we make some mistakes. As we respond to that allegation, we’ll dig deeper into what they believe are the underlying factual informations that they believe support those allegations and try to minimize our risk going forward.”

The penalties for these allegations likely won’t be determined for some time since UNC has until July 24 to respond to the NCAA — 90-day window — followed by a 60-day window for the NCAA to respond and a Committee on Infractions hearing after that before making a final ruling that UNC can then appeal.

Though he wouldn’t speculate on a timeline or possible punishments, Cunningham said that now is an appropriate time to consider self-imposing punishments.

UNC amended NOA release primer

There’s a new Notice of Allegations floating around UNC right now. If this feels familiar, it’s because UNC received its initial NOA May 20, 2015 and released it publicly June 4, 2015.

UNC is expected to release the amended and redacted NOA later today and will have a teleconference this afternoon.

That 2015 document outlined five allegations against the university stemming from independent study-esque classes in the African American Studies Department that required little to no work or attendance and may have disproportionately benefited student-athletes for nearly two decades.

A 2014 investigation conducted by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein found the classes, mostly run by AFAM department manager Debbie Crowder with a rubberstamp from former AFAM chair Julius Nyang’oro, affected an estimated 3,100 students from 1993-2011. Half of those students were athletes.

The roots of this investigation trace back to a 2010 investigation of the football program that found a handful of students who benefitted from cash and other impermissible benefits from agents.

The five allegations detailed in the 2015 NOA are all Level I violations, “a severe breach of conduct because the violations seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA Collegiate Model and the presumption of lack of institutional control violations as Level I.”

The first allegation states that from the 2002 fall semester through the 2011 summer semester, student-athletes were given impermissible benefits that weren’t generally available to the entire student body, specifically extra assistance in enrolling and completing independent study-esque classes in the AFAM department largely run by department manager Crowder that were used to inflate GPAs. Some athletes were also allowed to exceed the number of independent study credits countable toward graduation.

The second allegation specifically names Jan Boxill, former philosophy professor and women’s basketball academic advisor, for giving impermissible academic assistance to the team between April 2007 and July 2010.

The third allegations names Crowder for her failure to cooperate in the investigation in 2014 and 2015. In the document, the NCAA writes that she violated “principles of ethical conduct when she failed to furnish information relevant to an investigation of possible violations of NCAA legislation when requested to do so by the NCAA enforcement staff and the institution.”

The fourth allegation names Nyang’oro for the same reason as Crowder. The NCAA tried to interview him five times while the organization attempted to talk with Crowder three times.

The fifth allegation slaps UNC with the lack of institutional control violation for an inability to monitor Boxill and the AFAM department.

After receiving these allegations nearly a year ago, UNC had 90 days to file a response. But instead of sending in a response to each of the allegations, the university discovered more potential allegations as it parsed through nearly a million documents for public release. The possible violations included more impermissible benefits given to the women’s basketball team by Boxill and recruiting violations by men’s soccer.

With the introduction of new material, the NCAA had to reevalute the old NOA and send out a revised list of violations. Which brings us to where we are now: sitting, waiting and writing.

There’s no use in speculating about the contents about the new NOA, but it is curious that UNC is releasing the document the same day it supposedly received it. Either there isn’t a lot of new information to redact or the school had the document for much longer than it let on.

UNC receives amended NOA

CHAPEL HILL — UNC received an amended Notice of Allegations from the NCAA and will release the document as soon as possible, the university confirmed Monday morning.

Before the new NOA can be released publicly, it must be partially redacted by the university’s legal team.

In May 2015, UNC received the original notice of allegations in the long-running academic-athletic scandal that stemmed from no-show classes in the AFAM department that may have disproportionately helped student-athletes. But after UNC turned over new information to the NCAA in August — days before the deadline to respond to the NOA — the NCAA had to reevaluate the original NOA.

UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham told reporters in an August teleconference that the new possible violations uncovered were similar to the previously reported impermissible benefits in the form of extra academic help given to the women’s basketball by former professor and women’s basketball academic counselor Jan Boxill.

Potential recruiting violations in men’s soccer were also included in the new report to the NCAA.

Men’s basketball and football were not mentioned in the newly uncovered information.

Now that UNC has the amended NOA, the university has 90 days — until July 24 — to respond followed by a 60-day window for the NCAA to respond. Then there will be a Committee on Infractions hearing to determine the possible punishments followed by a final ruling. But UNC can appeal the final ruling, potentially stretching the date for final resolution to 2017.