From 1993 to 2011, more than 3,000 students at UNC-Chapel Hill took classes that did not require them to show up.
They were told only to submit a final paper, and they got artificially inflated grades. Nearly half were student-athletes who benefitted from the classes by remaining eligible to play.
Those findings were released Wednesday from former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein, who had been commissioned by the university to investigate academic fraud.
The report points much of the blame at two former employees of the university, Deborah Crowder and Julius Nyang'oro, but at least four others have been fired.
It paints a picture of Crowder and Nyang'oro as being especially sympathetic to students who were struggling in school, including athletes.
"As [Nyang'oro] told us, he felt particular compassion for student-athletes, and that was because he had a couple of student-athletes early on in his career who were his students," Wainstein explained during his presentation on Wednesday.
"Both of them ended up having to leave the school because of ineligibility, and one of them ended up in jail and one of them ended up being murdered."
Host Frank Stasio talks with Chronicle of Higher Education senior reporter Jack Stripling about the Wainstein report and the story of academic fraud at UNC.