UNC lawyer gives athletics briefing

By Michael Biesecker

Associated Press

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CHAPEL HILL – A former federal prosecutor hired to investigate academic irregularities involving athletes at North Carolina said he will follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Ken Wainstein was hired in February to determine the facts around the creation of “paper classes” in the African and Afro-American Studies department and the extent of their use by student athletes.

Wainstein said he wouldn’t share any of the findings of his investigation until his final report is compete, which he said hopefully would come in the fall. But he stressed that his probe is “completely independent” of the university and said he has access to records and witnesses not available to past investigations conducted by the university system.

“At the outset of the investigation, President (Tom) Ross and Chancellor (Carol) Folt directed me to ‘ask the tough questions, follow the facts wherever they lead, and get the job done,’” Wainstein said. “And that is exactly what we have been doing since February.”

So far, Wainstein said he and his staff have interviewed 80 people, searched about 1.5 million emails and reviewed records involving thousands of students going as far back to the 1980s.

Wainstein said he had been briefed by State Bureau of Investigation agents who conducted a criminal probe into the suspect classes and that he had access two critical witnesses, African studies department Julius Nyang’oro and longtime department manager Deborah Crowder.

Wainstein’s appearance before the board comes little more than two weeks after former Tar Heel basketball star Rashad McCants claimed he played on the school’s 2005 national championship team despite not performing any academic work or attending classes.

Coach Roy Williams and other players have denied McCants allegations, which is that latest chapter in the long-running scandal that began as an offshoot of a 2010 NCAA investigation into the university’s football program.