After the most recent revelations about UNC football and apparent academic fraud, it might be a good time to back up and put things in focus a bit.
- Assistant John Blake resigned amid allegations about his relationship with agent Gary Wichard. The NCAA believes that he took money from Wichard and the natural follow up question is whether or not he steered players to his friend. Wichard unfortunately died in 2011 and cannot answer any questions.
- Before he came to UNC, Blake, who was called Black Santa by some, had earned a bit of a reputation. After getting fired at Oklahoma, Blake destroyed the recruiting records. We can think of two reasons why someone might do this: first, vindictiveness, although that would be a suicidal career move. And second, because there was something in it which didn't need to be seen.
- Marvin Austin was among the many football players who enrolled in the 54 questionable classes, 43 of which were taught byÂ Julius Nyang'oro, the chairman of the African and Afro-American Studies Department.
- Last summer, (2011), 18 members and one former member of the football team enrolled in AFAM 280: Blacks in North Carolina, as suggested by academic advisors, who, the N&O reports, knew there would be no instruction.
- And though the investigation has mostly focused on football players, basketball players were in some of these classes too.
- Some professors say their names were forged on records relating to nine different classes.
- In August of 2011, the N&O reported thatÂ Nyang'oro hired as a teacher an agent, Carl Carey Jr., who represented two football players at the time when he taught. Karen Gil, Dean of Arts and Sciences, was not informed of this.
- Nyang'oro failed to detect the plagiarism by former Heel Michael McAdoo, and he also was the instructor of the 400-level class Austin was allowed to take despite not taking the prerequisites.
In order to not believe the worst, you would have to believe some remarkable things. You'd have to believe that Davis, who knew Blake since high school, had no idea that some people questioned his friend's integrity (this despite the firing at OU and the burning of records). You'd have to believe that, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, that Blake had no ties to Gary Wichard's agency. You would have to dismiss people like Brian Bosworth, who said that Blake tried to steer him to Wichard years before the UNC controversy erupted.
You'd also have to believe that either the professors are lying about their signatures being forged or that something extraordinary and inexplicableÂ happened. You'd have to believe that the academic advisors to the football team had no particular reason to put nearly a quarter of their team into a first-time class.
You'd have to believe that Nyang'oro read McAdoo's paper and didn't see the wholesale plagiarism, which would have been easier to miss than the antiquated language McAdoo's sources drew from. Some of his sources were written in the colonial era and sounded like it. You'd have to believe State students could spot it but Nyang'oro couldn't.
You'd have to believe that Austin was qualified to take a 400 level course in spite of not having taken remedial English - and that the B was a fair grade in light of McAdoo's plagiarism and the lax or fraudulent nature of some of the classes in the African and Afro-American Studies Department. You'd have to believe that Nyang'oro's teaching AFAM 280 as independent study rather than a lecture class was perhaps an oversight (it'd be interesting to learn what the academic advisors were expecting).
You'd have to believe that an agent did not have a coach was in essence a runner and that Nyang'oro had no particular motive to hire Carey.
You'd have to believe that the coaches, the academic advisors, the professor (or possibly professors) and the agents were unaware of what the others were doing.
Of course, not believing something doesn't establish contrary facts; only evidence can do that. The SBI is now involved, with subpoena power and the right to press charges, so perhap that will focus the subjects of the investigation.
Still, to our mind, there are a few questions which should be asked: first, was there any relationship between the agents? Or were they perhaps in competition? And second: if the allegations against Nyang'oro turn out to be true, what was his motive? If it wasn't money what was it? Third: who forged the fraudulent signatures and why?
After Saturday's N&O piece on the nature ofÂ Nyang'oro's class, Wade Hargrove, chairman of the board of trustees, says it is "troubling in the extreme."