Admonish University for Cheating Athletes Out of Education


Target: Carol Folt, Chancellor of University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Goal: Encourage university to fire administrator for breach in academic integrity

Sports play a far more significant part in American universities than their international counterparts. In fact, some students choose a school based solely on the reputation and quality of its athletic teams. Unfortunately, the love of sports often outweighs the fact that college is about academics, and for more than 3,000 students at the University of North Carolina, being an athlete meant taking fake classes to remain eligible to play sports.

In a scathing 131-page report by Kenneth Wainstein, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is responsible for running “shadow curriculum” (i.e. fake courses) for student athletes to maintain its reputation for sporting excellence. For more than 18 years, the university has artificially inflated the grades of thousands of students, sometimes issuing A’s and B’s to athletes who had never even shown up for a lecture.

These artificial courses, known as “paper classes,” never required athletes to attend class, take notes, meet their professors, or even stay awake during lectures. Described as “independent studies,” the students received passing grades from instructors to maintain their eligibility to play and stay at the university. According to a report by the UK’s Telegraph, an academic adviser stated that many of these student athletes couldn’t even write a proper paragraph or sentence, let alone a term paper.

Devised by the university’s Department Chair of African and Afro-American Studies Julius Nyang’oro, paper classes were designed to help athletes who were not “the best and the brightest” when it came to academics. Even if academic standards are not particularly rigorous, students that play sports are still expected to do some semblance of coursework to earn a degree.

The university’s skewed beliefs and mixed priorities have cheated thousands of student athletes out of a necessary and beneficial education. Sign the petition to encourage UNC Chancellor Carol Folt to take legal action against Julius Nyang’oro for undermining the academic experience for thousands of sports oriented students.


Dear Chancellor Folt,

It has recently come to my attention that for more than five years administrator Julius Nyang’oro has supported the artificial inflation of student athletes’ grades to help the University of North Carolina maintain its reputation for sporting excellence. I am shocked and appalled that a man of his intellectual caliber would undermine the academic experience for thousands of sports-oriented students.

To date, more than 3,100 athletes participated in “paper classes” where they were issued grades, sometimes A’s and B’s, just to remain eligible to play sports. Simply put, these students did not earn the degrees they received, but stole them. It is well understood that student athletes have demanding schedules and, at universities like the UNC, where sports teams are of the highest caliber, this schedule can almost be unbearable. With that being said, that doesn’t mean academics can simply take a back seat.

According to an academic adviser at the university, many of these sports-oriented students struggled to write a proper paper, paragraph, or even a sentence. The main priority of the university should have been helping these students, not handing them grades they surely did not deserve.

I am endlessly disgusted that it took nearly two decades, and the graduation of thousands of academically inadequate students, before this situation was brought to light. I urge you to take the necessary legal actions against administrator Julius Nyang’oro, and fire him immediately.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: BetacommandBot via Wikimedia Commons

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