UNC Questions NCAA's Authority in Academic Fraud Case

August 3, 2016

In a statement sent to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Monday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill argued the NCAA is overstepping its authority in attempting to punish the university for years of academic fraud involving athletes.

For 18 years, some employees at UNC Chapel Hill knowingly steered about 3,000 students -- 1,500 of them athletes -- toward no-show “paper courses” that never met, were not taught by any faculty members and in which the only work required was a single research paper that received a high grade no matter the content. In April, the NCAA sent UNC a notice of allegations that stemmed from the association's second investigation into the fraud.

The new notice charges the university with five violations, including a lack of institutional control and failure to monitor the departments that offered the fraudulent courses. The notice largely focuses on the women's basketball team, though football players accounted for 51 percent of the athletes taking the phony courses, and 12 percent were men's basketball players. Six percent of athletes taking the courses were women's basketball players.

It its response to the notice of allegations, UNC said that NCAA "has no authority over the operations of an academic department, much less the quality of the courses it offers to students in general." About half of the students who enrolled in the sham courses were not athletes.

"The university does not minimize the extent of the academic irregularities it experienced, even as it emphasizes that those matters are beyond the NCAA’s purview," UNC stated. "These matters concern fundamental institutional, not athletic, integrity, and they are not the proper subject of an NCAA enforcement action."

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