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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has accrued nearly $18 million in legal costs stemming from the decades-long scandal involving fake classes that appeared to benefit athletes disproportionately, The News & Observer reported.

The $17.6 million spent to date has gone toward an NCAA investigation, lawsuits filed by former athletes against the university, several law firms representing the institution, public relations costs to manage the scandal and the review, redaction and release of public records to news organizations. UNC has produced at least 1.7 million records related to the investigation.

UNC will not be paying off those legal costs with tuition dollars or state funds, officials told The News & Observer, and it’s very likely the university will be billed for additional legal fees in the coming months, as some of the lawsuits are ongoing.

The scandal in question spanned about 18 years and involved over 3,000 students -- half of them athletes. Some UNC employees were pushing students to take “paper classes” that were not taught by university faculty members and did not meet in person. In these courses, students received high marks on the single required assignment regardless of accuracy or quality.

It is widely considered one of the most far-reaching cases of academic fraud in higher education history.