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Implication and Insinuation

Another weekend, another N&O article on the head of the African American studies department.

If you will recall last week the N&O's Dan Kane examined a fragment of Marvin Austin's academic transcript which revealed he took a 400 level class with professor Julius Nyang'oro, the same instructor who missed the Michael McAdoo plagiarism. This week's foray into the world of Julius Nyang'oro includes him hiring a sports agent to teach a class in his department. Yes, really. Oh and it is the same agent who is suing former Heel and current St Louis Ram Robert Quinn for dropping him as an agent just as the NFL lockout ended.

At a time when UNC-Chapel Hill officials were embarrassed to find that sports agents had infiltrated the football program, the chairman of the university's African and Afro-American Studies Department hired an agent to teach a summer class.

At the time of the class this summer, the agent, Carl Carey Jr., was representing two UNC football players who had been selected in this spring's NFL draft.

Julius Nyang'oro hired Carey to teach a month-long course called Foundations of Black Education in the first summer semester. Carey is a former adjunct professor and academic adviser to football players who left the university in 2002 and started a business advising athletes looking to turn pro.

He became an agent three years later, and today represents one of UNC's biggest gridiron stars: Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers.

Carey's return to campus was a problem for UNC's athletic department, which quickly alerted its academic advisers to not recommend his class. John Blanchard, a senior associate athletic director, said the department did not know Carey had been hired until after the fact.

"Normally I wouldn't be concerned, but I was because of what we've been going through," Blanchard said. Only one athlete, a female, took the class.

Let's be clear about something up front here. Nothing raised in this piece nor last week about Austin's academic work is an issue for the football program, the athletic department or the NCAA in general. The story here is the actions of one department head who appears to be slack in the way he runs his classes and manages the personnel under his purview. He is also tone deaf when it comes to PR issues because how can you put an agent on campus in an official teaching capacity after the NCAA investigated the football program for agent involvement? Missing McAdoo's plagiarism is bad enough but to potentially create a further appearance of impropriety in hiring an agent really takes the cake. That being said, it is clearly an issue with this professor and him alone. The athletic department has no control over Nyang'oro and when they discovered he hired a sports agent, the decision was quickly made to minimize contact with the agent just to be certain nothing improper went on.

All that being said, this is not a good look for UNC and squeezes Holden Thorp between the proverbial rock and hard place. Thorp fired Butch Davis because he felt the academic integrity of the school was at risk. Now we have multiple questions about Nyang'oro which strikes most as a bigger blow to UNC's academic integrity than anything Butch Davis had done. Thus the conundrum for Thorp, at least on the PR side. If football coach matters to academic integrity certainly a professor does to a greater extent. The problem is firing Davis is far simpler than dealing with a professor. Faculty politics, tenure and in this case, racial considerations make handling this far more complicated. Not to mention Thorp is on record as wanting to stay above faculty decisions of this nature.

Of course I'd be lying if I said this wasn't at least another tire or two on the massive smoldering fire that is stinking up half the town. It simply raises more questions, brings out more insinuations and stokes the ever fertile imagination of ABCers everywhere. You have a sports agent being allowed to teach a class at UNC on the heels of a massive NCAA investigation. It turns out that agent, Carl Carey, has a pair of former Tar Heels as clients in Julius Peppers and Bruce Carter from the embattled 2010 team. There were originally three from the 2010 team but Quan Sturdivant quickly found another agent, and Robert Quinn fired Carey with Carey responding by suing Quinn. Oh and no one knew this guy was an agent when he was hired, well at least anyone who could have stopped it because we all figure Nyang'oro knew and simply didn't care. The bottom line is this is exactly the sort of thing you don't want going on given everything that just happened over the past year plus. It looks bad, its tied to a professor that is connected to two of the dismissed players and Carey's lawsuit against Quinn simply makes it bizarre.

As for what the N&O is up to with these articles is anyone's guess. I am not saying Kane or anyone else shouldn't be digging but both these articles have stopped short of making any substantive assertions of how this is connected to the NCAA issues. Either Kane doesn't have it nailed down or he is completely unwilling to go all the way in terms of connecting the dots. Bear in mind, none of this matters if UNC is not in NCAA trouble and all I see at this point is Kane throwing information out there content to let others renovate the molehill. As it stands right now, the actions of one professor and at worst poor vetting by the College of Arts and Sciences is not an NCAA violation. It does sort of fall into that same category with the head football coach hiring a member of the academic support staff. There is nothing inherently wrong with it according to the rules but for the sake of avoiding any unintended consequences, it is probably best to steer clear.