Wainstein Report Details AFAM Fallout

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The question into whether or not University of North Carolina student-athletes were steered to paper classes as part of a larger AFAM scandal orchestrated by department administrator Deborah Crowder was answered on Wednesday.

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Former Gov. Jim Martin’s 2012 report stated the AFAM misconduct was an academic scandal, not an athletic scandal. Martin’s investigation, however, lacked key interviews with AFAM chair Julius Nyang’oro and Crowder.

Former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein’s 131-page report, released on Wednesday, told a narrative based on Crowder’s testimony in which she created a “shadow curriculum” – paper classes with no faculty member involved in managing the course – to “lend a helping hand to struggling students.”

Crowder designed and offered independent study classes “that awarded high grades with little to no regard for the quality of the student’s work in the course,” according to the report.

Between 1993 and 2011, more than 3,100 students, nearly half of them student-athletes, “received one or more semesters of deficient instruction and were awarded high grades that often had little relationship to the quality of their work.”

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt confirmed during Wednesday’s press conference that the AFAM scandal involved both athletics and academics.

“Clearly, it was an issue in both areas,” Folt said. “And, indeed, it was a University issue.”

Wainstein found that five academic counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) knew about the operation of the paper classes and two even suggested grades to Crowder to keep student-athletes eligible. The counselors referred to the classes as “GPA boosters.”

Cynthia Reynolds, the Associate Director for APSPA and Director of Football, wrote in an email to football operations coordinator Andre Williams during the second summer session of 2009 that papers needed to be turned in before Crowder’s retirement at the end of July or risk C’s or D’s.

Basketball counselor Wayne Walden acknowledged to knowing how the classes worked and that Crowder was involved with the grading process, according to the report.

While ASPSA counselors were implicated in the report, the coaches of UNC’s various athletic programs were not.

Former football coaches John Bunting and Butch Davis, along with former basketball coach Matt Doherty, acknowledged the relative ease of the AFAM classes but claimed to have no knowledge of the corruption involved.

Walden told investigators that he could not recall telling Roy Williams or assistant Joe Holladay about the classes. Both of the coaches said they had not been told about the paper class scheme.

“Some people also thought that individuals such as our current coaches might have been involved, but his investigation shows they were not,” Folt said.

Wainstein told reporters the coaches had credible answers to his questions that made sense and he also emphasized that there were other easy classes on campus.

“I had no reason to disbelieve them based on the evidence that I had,” Wainstein said.

Williams inherited a team in 2003-04 with five players in AFAM majors. That level of clustering made him uncomfortable because it appeared as though the players were being steered to the major, according to the report.

He later issued a directive to Holladay to make sure that ASPSA counselors were not steering players to AFAM.

“Those actions are inconsistent with being complicit or really trying to promote that scheme,” Wainstein said.

Wainstein said the paper classes lasted for nearly two decades due to Crowder hiding her efforts and a “significant lack of oversight.”

UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham told reporters following the press conference that there was a lot of new information in the report that he hadn’t known about previously. He also confirmed that UNC has provided the NCAA with the report.

“We’re in the middle of a review with them that we started in June,” said Cunningham, who noted he does not know of a potential timeframe for the NCAA to conclude its re-investigation. “This is just one large piece of evidence and information that we will use throughout that process, but it’s much too early to speculate on the outcome.”

Cunningham also said he doesn’t currently see any further punishments coming from within the athletic department stemming from the report.

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