NCAA’s Report on Academic Fraud at UNC
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released its report on academic fraud involving student athletes at the University of North Carolina (previously), according to reports at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and the New York Times. According to the Chronicle, the report focuses “most prominently” on former philosophy professor and ethics center director Jan Boxill. It reports that the NCAA says:
- The university gave impermissible benefits to athletes through its fake-classes scheme.
- Ms. Boxill gave impermissible benefits to athletes.
- Deborah Crowder, a former manager of the department of African and Afro-American studies and the engineer of the fake-classes scheme, violated NCAA ethical standards by refusing interviews with NCAA investigators.
- Julius Nyang’oro, a former chair of the department, violated NCAA ethical standards for the same reason.
- Because it did not monitor Ms. Boxill and other counselors providing benefits to athletes, the university lacked institutional control.
The allegations are considered, according to the NYT, severe breaches of conduct. A more detailed account of the allegations is at The News & Observer.
Meanwhile, as Dennis Dodd reminds us at CBS Sports, some former students at UNC who took the fake classes are now suing the NCAA. He observes:
No mention was made of what is essentially a growing conflict of interest. While the NCAA is prosecuting North Carolina, it is in court fighting former players suing it because of the scandal. How is it possible for both of those things to be going on at once? The NCAA contends it is not responsible for academic fraud at UNC. Can the association fairly investigate UNC for wrongdoing while being sued by those who allegedly were involved in it?
Sports ethics case study atop sports ethics case study — a good example for philosophy of sport classes, perhaps.
“Deborah Crowder, a former manager of the department of African and Afro-American studies and the engineer of the fake-classes scheme, violated NCAA ethical standards by refusing interviews with NCAA investigators . . . Julius Nyang’oro, a former chair of the department, violated NCAA ethical standards for the same reason.”
These are such utterly bizarre things to say; the NCAA is a private organization, and unless Crowder or Nyang’oro made a pledge to follow “NCAA ethical standards” which they are now violating, there is absolutely no ethical transgression in simply refusing to subject oneself to the NCAA.Report
That is considered unethical conduct according to the NCAA manual. It’s actually the first violation listed, FWIW:
“Refusal to furnish information relevant to an investigation of a possible violation of an NCAA regulation when requested to do so by the NCAA or the individual’s institution.”
Since UNC is an NCAA member school, presumably all faculty involved with student athletes are “bound” by its ethical standards.Report
UNC does voluntarily associate as a member of the NCAA so the university can certainly be legitimately found in violation of ethical rules they’ve agreed to be bound by. In theory, if the faculty at issue are required by the university to participate in investigations when ordered by the school, and they failed to do so, they might be in violation of the _university’s_ ethical standards.
But being bound by ethical standards of a private organization of which they are not a member is just a really weird argument on the NCAA’s part. It’s like if suddenly a professional organization you were not a member of suddenly accused you of violating their ethical standards; the proper response is “who are you and what gives you the right to sit in judgment of me?”
From a practical standpoint, if I had a client who the NCAA demanded to interview, I would advise them to tell the NCAA “no.” It puts them at risk in any subsequent civil or criminal proceedings, and almost certainly offers no possible benefit.Report