CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The NCAA softened its stance on the role that ASPSA counselors played in the AFAM scandal in its amended notice of allegations to the University of North Carolina on Monday.
In the initial notice delivered last May, ASPSA counselors were alleged to have provided impermissible benefits to student-athletes in African and Afro-American Studies courses from 2002-2011 by way of special arrangements with faculty and staff. That charge was removed in the amended notice, which instead focused more on the department in charge of ASPSA at the time of the alleged violations: the College of Arts and Sciences.
Consider Allegation No. 4: “It is alleged that from the 2005 fall semester and continuing through the 2011 summer semester, the institution violated the NCAA Principle of Rules Compliance when individuals in the athletics and academic administrations on campus, particularly in the college of arts and sciences, did not sufficiently monitor the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) and the African and Afro-American Studies (AFRI/AFAM) department.”
After stating that the independent study courses were either undetected or known and not addressed due to the institutions failure to monitor the department, the enforcement staff took further aim at the college of arts and sciences: “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.”
Allegation No. 5, which alleges UNC committed a lack of institutional control as demonstrated in the Jan Boxill/women’s basketball allegation along with the failure to monitor charge, walks back some the language of the initial notice, specifically with regard to ASPSA counselors and their special arrangements with AFAM faculty and staff.
“The AFRI/AFAM department created anomalous courses that were available to the general student body and went unchecked for at least six years. As a result of the institution's obligation and ability to provide academic support services to student-athletes, and as a result of the relationships between the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) and the AFRI/AFAM department, student-athletes had increased exposure to the anomalous course offerings.”
The final allegation also takes the next step in shielding ASPSA counselors from blame.
“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.”
Shifting the responsibility from ASPSA counselors to academic leadership likely will not affect the lack of institutional control charge due to the scope involved, according to Stu Brown, an Atlanta-based lawyer that handles compliance cases.
“Whether that conduct was fostered by people inside athletics, or whether it was fostered by people outside athletics but it affected athletics, either of those is a legitimate basis for an institutional control allegation and then finding,” Brown said. “If you have a substantial underlying and systemic set of conduct that turns out to be a violation, that’s going to be lack of institutional control if it has any athletic connections.”