On Oct. 22, the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill announced on their university homepage the results of an independent investigation conducted by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein into past academic irregularities at the university and took immediate action to address those findings. It seems, according to the investigation, that for the last 18 years, approximately 3,100 students – mostly student athletes and students struggling in their coursework – were funneled into fake classes, described as “paper classes,” so that those students could keep their grades up.
In the case of the student athletes being enrolled in those paper classes, it was in an effort to keep them eligible to play sports at UNC, according to CNN. The Wainstein report stated that “These counselors saw the paper classes and the artificially high grades they yielded as key to helping some student-athletes remain eligible.”
Rumors and innuendoes regarding the fake classes at UNC have plagued the university for years. Yesterday’s findings were the result of an eight-month-long investigation undertaken by Wainstein, who said in his report that the final number of students taking those paper classes at UNC could actually be much higher than 3,100. You can see the full report from Wainstein here.
Four employees have been fired and five more disciplined because of their roles. One other former employee had honorary status removed, Chancellor Carol Folt said Wednesday.
Wainstein’s report on the scandal at UNC could have widespread and real world implications for the university which could ultimately threaten the school’s history of national championships. With the report being shared with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA,) it’s not outside the realm of possibility that previous championships and sports wins could be overturned.
In the past 18 years, UNC has won three national championships for college basketball — in 1993, 2005 and 2009 — that could be in jeopardy along with countless wins.
And it wasn’t just the revenue-generating sports that benefited.
The report says that athletes in a wide range of sports were involved, and it notes a noticeable spike of enrollment of Olympic-sport athletes between 2003 and 2005.
Reuters reported that true to their names, the “paper classes” offered at UNC in Chapel Hill “from 1993 to 2011 had no class attendance or faculty involvement.” Of the approximate 3,100 students enrolled in those fake courses, the report states that nearly half of them were student athletes. “Among the non-athletes, many were struggling students who were referred through academic support services.” For more on the scandal rocking the University of North Carolina, see the video accompanying this article.