Walden Responds to Wainstein Report

Former men’s basketball academic counselor Wayne Walden said he had no “secret knowledge” of the irregular AFAM classes taken by UNC students from 1993-2011.

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Walden worked under Roy Williams from 2003-09 and corresponded regularly with Deborah Crowder, the AFAM secretary who was pinned as the orchestrator of independent study classes that offered generous grades without regard to the quality of the submitted work.

According to the Wainstein Report, which documented the fraud, men’s basketball players accounted for 226 enrollments in the paper classes from 1999-2009. But in his first comments since the report was released in October, Walden said he didn’t steer players into those classes and didn’t know as much about how they worked as the Wainstein Report let on.

Walden’s knowledge of the classes is described at three different parts in the 131-page report. Walden said the most accurate one was on pages 122-3: “Walden was aware of the paper classes and thought they had been approved by the University because they were open to all students … he said he thought Crowder was probably doing some of the grading, though he never knew for sure.”

However, the first two times Walden is cited, any ambiguity about Crowder’s role is taken out: “Walden acknowledged knowing how the courses worked, including that Crowder did at least some of the grading” (p. 64) and “Walden acknowledged knowing about irregular aspects of the paper classes including Crowder doing some of the grading” (p. 73).

“I am troubled that the first two statements are very loosely worded and have been incorrectly interpreted to indicate that I knew more about those courses than is true,” Walden wrote in an e-mail.

While acknowledging the difficult task former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein faced, Walden said he was also disappointed to see that the bulk of his discussions with the Wainstein team – which totaled about three hours – was left out of the report.

“I’m sure that a very comprehensive report would have been thousands of pages so they determined a narrative and that appears to be what was included in the report,” wrote Walden.

When Walden told investigators that he knew about the irregular classes, he meant that he knew they required one or two papers, did not meet in a lecture format and were similar to other independent study classes but were not titled “Independent Study.”

However, he thought the classes were authorized or sanctioned by the university – including how they were taught and graded – for three main reasons: they were available to and taken by non-athletes, they were listed on a database with all other UNC class offerings that was visible to all faculty and administrators, and they had existed for years before he arrived in Chapel Hill.

“Statements in the Wainstein report seem to have been interpreted as if I had secret knowledge about these courses which I did not share with the coaches,” Walden said. “This simply is not true.”

Walden’s role in what Wainstein called a “paper-class scheme” created in part to keep athletes eligible could be important to the NCAA, which would be interested if academic advisors steered players to classes they knew to be fraudulent. However, former assistant coach Joe Holladay said that like everyone else in the basketball office, Walden never encouraged players to take AFAM classes and was shocked to find out the extent of Crowder’s involvement.

“There’s no better person than Wayne Walden and to have anybody think that Wayne did something wrong, that just bothers me and bothers him – he’s just crushed,” said Holladay, who was a member of the coaching staff from 2003-13 and served as the liaison between Walden and Williams. “I just hate for anybody to think that Wayne knew what was going on, because he did not.”

Williams also defending Walden throughout the fall, calling him “the most ethical person I know” and saying he trusted Walden “from the bottom of my soul.”

“There’s a difference between somebody thinking and somebody knowing,” Williams said. “And there’s a difference between coming aware in 2004 or 2008 that something had happened three or four years before.”

Williams and Holladay both thought that Walden was misrepresented in the report because his answers were paraphrased and removed from context.

“They asked him, ‘Wayne did you know Debby was grading papers?’’ Holladay said. “Wayne said, ‘Yes, it doesn’t surprise me because there’s TAs all over campus grading papers, they have the approval from the professor to do that, and Debby’s been in the department for 20 years and she has a degree from the University of North Carolina, and she has a good relationship with the professors in the department and the dean, and so it wouldn’t surprise me if she was grading papers.’ So the answer in the report just says, ‘Yes.’ That’s a big difference right there.

“That part bothers me because he’s just like the rest of us – who would think that Debby is signing the professors’ names and there really is no teacher involved? No one at the University of North Carolina would think that. It’s listed in the university course guides, it’s got a course name and a teacher’s name beside it.”

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