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Martin's Review: Still Unanswered Questions

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Former Gov. Jim Martin released his review of UNC's scandal, and concluded that it was a case of academic fraud involving one department which involved athletes as opposed to an athletic fraud.

The scope was fairly narrow and leaves some questions unanswered, not that it could have answered them all.

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First, it's not clear who forged signatures. Secondly, unless we missed it - and we haven't read carefully yet - it's not clear how an agent was hired to teach classes at a university where he was also pursuing clients.

And third, no basketball players were interviewed. That may have been a mistake; some may see it as protecting a sacred cow in UNC basketball.

The blame for the entire mess has essentially been laid at the feet of two people: Julius Nyang’oro, the former chairman, and Deborah Crowder, a former department administrator.

As Luke DeCock notes, Martin did answer the what, but not the who, why or how.

In Martin's report there is this paragraph:

Through information obtained in our interviews and other procedures that are detailed in the Possible Individual Gains section of this report, we evaluated factors that could have contributed to the discovered academic anomalies using a three-point analysis framework that was developed in 1950 by criminologist Donald Cressey. The Fraud Triangle concept suggests that acts of fraud are typically found to be driven by a combination of three factors: 1) Opportunity, 2) Motive/Pressure, and 3) Rationalization.

In the section about Possible Individual Gains (page 59), we learn that Martin & co. checked civil, criminal, bankruptcy and lien records nationwide; investigated possibly questionable personal relationships; looked at filings by various agencies and did a broad (presumably LexisNexis) search. This was their conclusion:

We noted no relationships of Dr. Nyang’oro, Ms. Crowder, Dr. Carey, or Mr. Martin, as identified through the background check results, private investigator’s inquiry, and interviews, that appeared to lead to the possibility of unusual financial gain. We identified a friendship between Ms. Crowder and a long-time academic tutor and advisor for the men’s basketball team, Ms. Burgess McSwain, who died in 2004. Ms. Crowder and Ms. McSwain were known to be close friends. We identified via a public records search a bequest made in 2008 to Ms. Crowder from the estate of Ms. McSwain’s father, who died in 2008. The will described the bequest of Hummel figurines and Christmas decorations, as well as a sum of $100,000 to be provided upon the condition that “she provide care, maintenance support, and routine and reasonable health and veterinary care, for all of my dogs…” We concluded that there was nothing inappropriate about this.

What the commission lacks, of course, is the power to subpoena. There are many questions left unanswered, but a few in particular intrigue us. It could be coincidental that John Blake had close ties to an agent. It could be coincidental that an agent taught classes in the department in question. It could be coincidental that so many football and basketball players benefitted from the fraudulent classes.

We'd very much like to know if those issues are tied together in any way. Perhaps the D.A., if he ends up pursuing the case, can find out.

Finally, no doubt there were people in that program during the years in question who were serious about their academics. What has happened to their reputation? Are their careers going to be affected?