LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Findings of a massive cheating scheme spanning almost two decades rocked the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in October. And the aftershocks are still ongoing. Yesterday, we learned the names of the four UNC employees that have resigned, been fired or are in the process of being fired in the wake of the scandal. One of the four is a former faculty leader. Joining me on the line is Dan Kane of the Raleigh News and Observer. Can you briefly give us a refresher on the cheating scandal?
DAN KANE: Yes. This all came to light in about 2011 when I had found a transcript belonging to a football player who had gotten in trouble at the University, who had been in an upper-level class from the African and Afro-American Studies Department. He'd gotten a B plus. It was the summer before he starts his first full semester as a freshman.
Well, in that first semester of freshman year, he's taking remedial writing. The professor who had taught that class had also missed some plagiarism from a paper written by another football player that had become public a couple of months earlier. So there clearly was something going on. You know, I learned from a former learning specialist there, Mary Willingham, that these athletes were being steered into these classes that didn't meet and which are just told to write a paper.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So basically what we're seeing is fake classes, fake grades, an entire scheme here giving students basically a way to bolster their GPA?
KANE: Yeah. And the investigation that was completed here in October, you know, found about, you know, 3,100 students who had taken these things, about half of them were athletes.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why did it take so long to learn which employees were getting fired?
KANE: The university, when it's report came out, announced that they were taking action against nine people. Chancellor Carol Folt said that four of them, they were trying to fire. And she argued and the university argued that since these employees, you know, have some appeal rights, you know, there's a process. You know, we don't want to make these names public until the process has been completed. And, you know, we and other media organizations here in the Raleigh area - Raleigh, North Carolina - you know, thought differently. So there was a lawsuit, a judge ordered it to go to mediation and what happened yesterday was that, you know, the names were made public as part of the settlement.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, why do you think the UNC resisted making this public? I mean, at this point the university has - its reputation has been damaged. Transparency would ostensibly help, no?
KANE: That's kind of been a story throughout this. It's been the university's first move always seems to be, you know, limiting the amount of information they want to make public. You know, you really would have to talk to them about, you know, why they feel that's the proper route to go given the breath and all the interest in this scandal.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What's next? What are we going to see next with this unfolding scandal?
KANE: Well, in the case of the faculty leader, Jan Boxill - you know, she's appealing her firing. We have the accreditation commission asking questions of the university. You know, the first time I looked at this it got a much more limited picture of what was going on. And from the letter that was sent to the university recently, you get the sense that they feel like they didn't get the full story, and now they want it. And then the other thing, of course, is because these classes involve so many athletes, you know, the question is, you know, are the wins that they earned, are the championships that they earned - should they be allowed to stand? So the NCAA is investigating. So there's a lot going on here.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Dan Kane is of the Raleigh News and Observer. Thank you so much for joining us.
KANE: Well, thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.