Martin Report About UNC Academics Released: Leaves Questions Unanswered

Posted by mpatton on December 20th, 2012

North Carolina released the independent report from former governor James Martin Thursday morning and a lot people aren’t happy. Admittedly biased rival fans aren’t satisfied (or here), and North Carolina fans and alumni aren’t either. The primary reason for people’s disdain is simple: The report doesn’t add much, in substance, to what was already known. Yes, Martin throws out some statistics about the number of grade changes investigated, but the major players weren’t interviewed. That means Julius Nyang’oro (the head of the African American Studies department, who taught many of the fraudulent classes), Debbie Crowder (Nyang’oro’s assistant) and Wayne Walden (the counselor who came to North Carolina with Roy Williams but left in 2009 when basketball players stopped taking African American Studies classes) were not interviewed.

Jim Martin released his report on the UNC academic scandal, which left most questions unanswered. (Photo: Chris Seward / Raleigh News & Observer)

Jim Martin released his report on the UNC academic scandal, which left most questions unanswered. (Photo: Chris Seward / Raleigh News & Observer)

The report puts the onus of the scandal on the African and African American Studies department with Nyang’oro taking all the blame, but the lack of relevant interviews leads to a murky picture (emphasis added):

We were unable to discern a clear motive for establishing and offering these perverse and anomalous courses. The evidence is consistent with one hypothesis that these courses were provided for the primary purpose of enlarging the department’s enrollment, as a factor for increasing its allotted faculty positions. As a generality, no one was paid extra for having more than the normal number of these courses. There is no evidence that anyone outside of the Department office was active in its instigation and continuance. I believe personally that the big money from television contracts does distort values of collegiate sports programs; but we found no evidence that it was a factor in these anomalous courses. Despite what one might imagine, there is no evidence the Counselors, or the students, or the coaches had anything to do with perpetrating this abuse of the AFRI/AFAM curriculum, or any other.

So essentially after the Martin Report, we’re no closer to finding out why these classes existed. Were they for athletes? To increase enrollment? Because Nyang’oro loved reading 20-page research papers instead of lecturing? The paragraph above admits that the money in college athletics “does distort values” of programs, but in the same paragraph accepts absence of evidence (from what appears to be a corporeal investigation) as evidence of absence.

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