The prosecutor leading an investigation into fraud in an academic department at North Carolina says a retired administrator tied to the case won’t face charges.
In a news release Tuesday, Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall said Deborah Crowder from the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department is cooperating with investigators. She will also cooperate with a school-sanctioned independent investigation by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth L. Wainstein, announced by the school last month.
The problems in the department ranged from no-show classes with significant athlete enrollments to unauthorized grade changes, dating to the late 1990s.
Two school investigations blamed Crowder and ex-chairman Julius Nyang’oro. Nyang’oro was charged in December for receiving $12,000 to teach a summer 2011 lecture course filled with football players and instead treating it as an independent study requiring a paper.
The school had said Wainstein would look into any additional information that might become available through Woodall’s criminal probe, which was conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation. The school said Wainstein would then “take any further steps necessary to address questions left unanswered” in previous reviews about how irregularities took place.
Crowder hasn’t cooperated with previous school investigations previously.
Wainstein led last year’s outside review of the NCAA’s botched handling of the Miami investigation connected to booster Nevin Shapiro. The former U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., Wainstein was also named Homeland Security Advisor by President George W. Bush in 2008.
The discovery of irregularities was an offshoot of an NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct within the football program. The academic violations in the NCAA case, which began in summer 2010, centered on a tutor providing too much help on papers and led to sanctions in March 2012.
A previous inquiry at UNC conducted by former Gov. Jim Martin in 2012 found problems in more than 200 courses in the department dating back to at least 1997, including the lecture classes that didn’t meet and possibly forged signatures on grade rolls.
The NCAA told the school as recently as September that it has no plans for charges or additional investigation. The agency that accredits UNC said in June that it wouldn’t sanction the school.
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