University of North Carolina

Key Figure in NCAA's UNC Investigation Deborah Crowder Responds

Department administrator made her first public comments on Thursday.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Four days before North Carolina is due to respond to the NCAA's latest notice of allegations, Deborah Crowder has issued a response, contending her statements and actions were misrepresented in the Wainstein Report.

"I believe that our university owes a duty to educate and assist students," Crowder said in her affidavit, a copy of which was provided to Inside Carolina on Thursday afternoon by her lawyer, Elliot Abrams of the Cheshire Group. "When institutional problems threatened to harm our students and to prevent them from getting an education, or when advisors made mistakes that threatened to harm students’ futures, I believed we had a duty to protect the students and their futures—not by giving away grades, but by providing customized educational opportunities for students to solve problems created by the institutional bureaucracy.

"That is what these courses were about—they were about educating students, irrespective of whether they were athletes; all students were treated equal."

The former University of North Carolina AFAM department administrator has been a key figure in the lengthy investigation for her role in the department and its classes. Her unwillingness to cooperate with the NCAA's enforcement staff comprises allegation No. 3 in the second amended notice of allegations. She had not made any public comments or responded to any prior notice of allegations since the investigation began.

Crowder spoke privately with Wainstein for the report that was released in 2014, though no recordings or transcripts of the interviews were kept of that interview.

Wainstein claimed Crowder created a “shadow curriculum” with independent study classes “that awarded high grades with little to no regard for the quality of the student’s work in the course” that lasted for nearly two decades.

"Her conduct was neither dishonest nor unethical, and she did not engage in any systematic effort to provide special treatment to student athletes," Crowder's response says. "Rather, all students were treated equal with respect to course access, course requirements, and course grading.

"Finally, it must be noted that the claim inherent in Allegation 1 that the classes in question were not academically substantive is not only false; it is also exceedingly harmful to the thousands of students who worked hard to write thoughtful term papers. This unfounded devaluation of these students’ education—and by extension their degrees—is irresponsible, and the NCAA should stop maligning former students’ reputations by continuing to bring factually unsupported claims related to the quality of their course work."

Crowder's response also indicates the possibility of cooperating with the investigation, which would likely negate Allegation 3, which charges UNC with a Level 1 infraction due to her failure to cooperate.

Crowder becomes the latest Wainstein interview subject to dispute the report's interpretations of their comments and efforts to fit them into a determined narrative.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions’ decision earlier this year to violate its bylaws in order to admit the full Wainstein Report into the case has subjected the report to scrutiny.

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