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Copyright 2014 The Durham Herald Co.
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The Herald-Sun (Durham, N.C.)

CHAPEL HILL - The NCAA isn't done investigating UNC-Chapel Hill after all.

UNC athletic director Bubba Cummingham said Monday that the NCAA is reopening its 2011 examination of "academic irregularities" at the school.

"The NCAA has determined that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might now be willing to speak with the enforcement staff," Cunningham said in a statement.

The NCAA concluded its initial investigation into academic misconduct and impermissible benefits involving the Tar Heels football program in 2012 and handed down penalties that included a one-year postseason ban.

However, the academic part of the original probe only focused on impermissible help to players from former tutor Jennifer Wiley, who refused to cooperate with the NCAA.

Since that time, an internal investigation by the school found hundreds of suspect courses and more than 560 unauthorized grade changes in the African and Afro-American Studies Department. Roughly half of the students in those classes were athletes, but the suspicious AFAM courses were not considered to be NCAA violations because non-athletes also benefited from them.

The former chairman of the AFAM department, Julius Nyong'oro, and his assistant, Debbie Crowder, have recently started cooperating with authorities, which could provide previously unreleased information to the NCAA.

"The NCAA enforcement staff makes clear it will revisit the matter if additional information becomes available," the NCAA said in a statement. "... The enforcement staff is exploring this new information to ensure an exhaustive investigation is conducted based on all available information."

Both Nyong'oro and Crowder spoke with federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein, who was asked by UNC in February to conduct another investigation into the AFAM Department. Wainstein said in a statement that he was asked by UNC to share any relevant information with the NCAA.

"My colleague Joseph Jay and I have since held meetings with the enforcement staff and have briefed them on our findings to date," Wainstein said Monday in a statement. "We will continue to provide the NCAA with any relevant information that we learn during the remainder of our investigation."

Nyong'oro was charged with a felony in Orange County in December for obtaining property by false pretenses. He was paid $12,000 to teach a 2011 summer lecture course that never met. That class had an enrollment that consisted entirely of 19 current and former football players.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said last week that he is considering dropping the charges against Nyong'oro because the professor is cooperating with Wainstein.

Nyang'oro isn't the only new source that has popped up recently. Earlier in June, former UNC basketball player Rashad McCants told ESPN that during the 2005 championship season he took four AFAM classes in the spring semester that did not meet and only required a term paper, which McCants said that tutors wrote for him. McCants also said that he was advised to take the "no-show" classes by his academic advisers and that the system was in place to keep athletes eligible.

McCants provided a transcript to ESPN that showed he received As or Bs in 16 of his 18 AFAM classes, and no grade better than a C in his 10 non-AFAM classes.

The mistakenly released transcript of former Tar Heel football star Julius Peppers, who turned pro in 2001, also showed that he relied heavily on AFAM classes to maintain a solid GPA.

Both UNC and the NCAA said it would have no further comment until the process is complete. Wainstein said his findings would be confidential until he releases a public report, which is expected to occur this fall.

The NCAA has been a constant presence on campus since 2010, when it started looking into the UNC football program. Though the penalties in that case were announced in 2012, an investigation into star basketball player P.J. Hairston last year caused him to lose his eligibility when it was found that he accepted extra benefits.

July 2, 2014 
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