Corruption at Big U

Maybe the Wilmington StarNews opinion-heads have finally caught on to the persistent corruption lurking behind the ivy-covered façade of the University of North Carolina—previously their favorite, unquestionable public charity.

In a recent view by the Editorial Board they question the secrecy of a UNC-Wilmington search committee that just chose a new chancellor—in secret. They express shock, shock to learn that this goes on at Big U.

They didn’t, however, question why this small-town, State employee gets $350,000 annually (plus perks), or why chancellors seem to be mostly high-paid lobbyists—working against State taxpayers’ interests to greedily con elected officials into shoveling more of our money into campus capers (e.g. the recent UNCW building for a “Center for Innovation”).

Last October a StarNews editorial expressed “embarrassment” about the world-class UNC-Chapel Hill “atrocity,” a.k.a. corruption: a scam to keep black athletes academically eligible for highly profitable, big time sports—going on for nearly 20 years. Who knew?

UNC administrators and coaches did, but naturally they didn’t want to disrupt their lucrative livelihoods. So, low-level staff took the hit: four people were fired; five others were “referred for disciplinary action”; one African studies department chairman resigned; and two people retired.

Last March the Associated Press reported a recent casualty. UNC philosophy professor Jan Boxill retired before Big U could fire her. Boxill advised female basketball players, directing some into fake courses, and influencing student grades. Boxhill was given nearly $86,000 annual salary (and probably a comfortable retirement account) for her contributions to corruption.

Overall, the phony-student scandal at UNC involved 3,100 athletes in a no-show “shadow curriculum” from 1993 to 2011; leading us to ask: How many other campuses offering African studies programs within the UNC system (and without) carry on these scams to support Big Sports? Actually, we do know of another one.

Here at UNC Wilmington (a Big Sports campus) Beth Bridger, a former “academic coordinator” steered football players “into paper classes,” according to a StarNews report by Adam Wagner last October. She offered coaches classes with no class: no notes; no staying awake; no meeting professors; no paying attention; no engaging with academic material.

For this lack of effort athletes’ grade point average, averaged 3.6; in normal classes it averaged 1.9—a no brainer for “student” athletes. Alas, Beth didn’t survive the rigors of UNC administration. She was “separated” quickly before her two-year probationary period ended.

Incidentally, information about Bridger’s “release” is secret: no cause; no details—but she’s probably out there somewhere helping poor, discriminated against Big U athletes that have a tough time competing in academia.

It’s almost expected today, but once-upon-a-time we called it cheating and students would have been expelled from the university. And appropriately, administrators would have been fired.

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About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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