Probe of classes doesn't concern Williams

North Carolina coach Roy Williams said through a team spokesman Tuesday that he is not concerned that basketball players made up about 3 percent of the students enrolled in classes in which an internal school review found unauthorized grade changes and little or no instruction by professors.

The players were eligible to be enrolled in those classes, just like any other student, he said through the spokesman, and they did the work. Associate Vice President for University Relations Nancy Davis confirmed to espn.com what The (Raleigh) News & Observer first reported Tuesday: football and basketball players represented 39 percent of the enrollment in the 54 courses in the Department of African and Afro-American studies in which the internal investigation produced evidence of unauthorized grade changes, and little or no instruction by professors.

During the review period (summer 2007 through summer 2011), she said in an email, there were 23 basketball enrollments, and 246 football enrollments in the suspect classes. (Note: one player could have enrolled in more than one class, so that doesn’t necessarily mean 23 basketball players were involved). The UNC internal review stemmed from the two-year-long NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits and academic fraud in the football program.

Wrote Dan Kane of The N&O:

University officials say they found no evidence that the suspect classes were part of a plan between [Julius] Nyang’oro [the department’s chairman, who was listed as the professor of 45 of the suspect classes] and the athletic department to create classes that student-athletes could pass so they could maintain their eligibility. They said student-athletes were treated no differently in the classes than students who were not athletes.

But the high percentages of student-athletes in the classes suggest to some that academic advisers, tutors and others in the athletic department may have guided them to the classes.

“These kids are putting in enormous amounts of time, and in at least some of the sports that are very physically demanding, they are missing a number of classes because of conflicts, and then if they are a marginal student to begin with, you’ve got to send them to Professor Nyang’oro’s class,” said former state Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr. “I think the academic counselors realized that and the tutors recognized it, and frankly the folks up the food chain for the most part recognized it. But nobody wants to rock the boat, because it’s big money.”

Again: the report UNC released Friday concluded that there wasn’t any evidence that athletes received preferential treatment in these classes, and no one received a grade without doing work. The breakdown in the department appears to have affected both athletes and non-athletes, and that’s a key consideration when it comes to NCAA rules.

UNC System President Tom Ross said in a statement to The N&O that he saw no need to look further into the academic improprieties.

“I believe that this was an isolated situation and that the campus has taken appropriate steps to correct problems and put additional safeguards in place,” Ross said in the statement.