Advocacy Group Brings Federal Complaint Against UNC

University accused of racial and gender discrimination for offering Black student athletes fake classes. 

Posted: 04/09/2014 01:45 PM EDT
UNC

Student athletes at the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, were "disproportionately enrolled" in fraudulent courses that only required them to turn in a single term paper but not attend any actual classes, a federal civil rights complaint says.

In documents filed last Friday (April 4), the Student Athletes Human Rights Project accuses UNC of gender and race discrimination for offering courses through the Department of African, African-American and Diaspora Studies, that never actually existed.The faux classes were disguised as lectures or independent studies courses, and attended by mostly Black male student-athletes.

According to the paperwork, 18 out of 19 students enrolled in the 2011 "paper courses" were active football players, while one was a former football player. Furthermore, male student-athletes made up a larger percentage of the classes than female student-athletes. As a result, the male students were "not provided the same educational opportunities," as their counterparts. 

The SAHRP supported its findings with a report from former UNC athletic counselor Mary Willingham, who found huge gender disparities between female and male student-athletes enrolled in classes at the university. Willingham has also noted that literacy issues among UNC's black student-athletes are being overlooked so that the they can maintain a certain GPA to be eligible to play. The school has denied Willingham's claim.

The complaint also mentions a UNC faculty report from last year, which revealed that a "staff manager" from the AFAM department helped players with enrollment. The unnamed person "may have directed athletes" to take "no show classes," while "someone in the department" contacted counselors on behalf of the athletes "to tell them 'certain courses' were available."

In 2007, UNC conducted an internal investigation surrounding higher-level summer courses where "22 out of 41" enrollees were athletes.

The university has not yet received "information" on the latest allegations, a UNC rep said. 

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(Photo: Raleigh News & Observer/MCT/LANDOV)

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