IF you live in North Carolina or follow college sports, you’ve probably heard about the results of The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s independent investigation into academic and athletic fraud at the university.
In a damning report, Kenneth Wainstein’s team of investigators found 3,100 students took bogus classes — about 50 percent of them athletes — from 1993 to 2011.
How did UNC get here? After years of denials and evasions, the university realized the story was not going to die unless it dealt with the issues head on, so UNC administrators hired attorney Wainstein to look deeply into the matter. As a result of his investigation, four UNC staff members have been fired, five are under review, and a report has been sent to the NCAA, which will possibly result in athletic sanctions against UNC.
For years, UNC has dragged its feet in response to open-records request from The News & Observer of Raleigh, which broke the first stories of the scandal and has been doggedly pursuing it ever since. One earlier internal look into the scandal lead by former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt determined the scandal wasn’t an athletic one, but an academic one, since students other than athletes were enrolled in the classes.
As the N&O pointed out, that conclusion ignores the fact that 50 percent of students enrolled in the classes were athletes (the majority of which were football players), although athletes only make up a fraction of the student body as a whole.
A dogged attorney
Wainstein, with the firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, is a former U.S. Justice Department attorney and homeland security adviser.
He explained his role and his relationship with UNC to Bloomberg News like this:
“I do independent investigations for a living and I can tell you that whenever you’re dealing with an organization, be it a corporation or a school or an association, it’s a difficult decision to ask an outsider to come in and look around your business and find the faults.”
He and his team consulted with state prosecutors and the FBI and “received the fruits of their criminal investigation,” Bloomberg reported.
Huseby in North Carolina
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