I swear, there are so many things I want to write about. And yet every time I sit down to look ahead at any of the fall sports seasons, the African and Afro-American Studies department raises its head again. This round started with another N&O article, this one on how the university isn't particularly interested in seeing how far back the problems in the department stretch. Their smoking gun was a sample transcript from a faculty advising training module. The transcript is for an AFAM major with a suspiciously low SAT score and a waived physical education requirement — two things that indicate a student-athlete. And this transcript shows wild swings in grades, with D's in a lot of core courses and A's and B's in some of the same AFAM seminars now under investigation.
No worries, though. UNC responded with what I'm sure they believed, that it was a mock transcript for training purposes only. And two days after that statement, it's looking increasingly likely that it is an actual transcript, with the serial numbers filed off.
Julius Peppers' transcript, in fact.
First things first. This is an incredibly stupid thing to do. But it's also a plausible stupid thing. Some one circa 2001 in the registrar's office is tasked with preparing a training module and needs example transcripts. He pulls the records of the most well-known student in the system, changes enough details to presumably satisfy FERPA, and goes on with his day. In fact, no one would have connected the transcript to Peppers had another portion of the module not even bothered to strip the defensive lineman's name from the transcript.
So this, understandably, leaves egg on the face of the university. And may open them up to losing federal financial aid, although taking down the transcripts - which UNC has already done - should appease the feds. More pressingly is the fear that the rot in the AFAM department goes back further than previously thought. Here's the course catalog from around that time; Peppers does seem to excel in classes involving independent study. Lucky, there's someone willing to defend Peppers and the university's good name.
That person is Carl Casey, Jr., former UNC academic tutor and current agent to Julius Peppers. Casey is also currently suing former Tar Heel Robert Quinn over breach of contract and has in the past been a guest lecturer... in the AFAM department. In an interview with the N&O, Carey plays the pity card:
"A typical student would fear for their life if they were sent out on a football field with the football team," Carey said. "They would feel unprepared, they would feel scared. They would feel inadequate.
"And so you could assume an athlete whose academic records suggest that they’re likely going to struggle, and you put them in a classroom with [high] SAT [scores], guess how they’re feeling?"
I'm not sure I really buy that logic. On the more pertinent questions, such as is that actually Peppers' transcript, and were there bogus classes while he was a student, Carey is mum. So we're left chagrined and otherwise right where we started. Chancellor Thorp has given no indication that an investigation into the rogue department will extend back to Peppers' time in Chapel Hill, though he did give the worst quote possible in this situation, the defensive and evading "We never said it just started in 2007." Gah. The university administration is still floundering, in part because there's little they can do with department chair Julius Nyang'oro having resigned and the also also implicated department administrator Deborah Crowder having retired. But this continues to look worse and worse, and the front office isn't helping.
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