In an ESPN report on academic scandal at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill involving student athletes, the world got a look at an example of a lackluster final paper submitted by a student who reportedly received an A- as his final grade.
The paper went viral as the Internet reacted to how simple the short essay on Rosa Parks was. But it turns out the paper was actually plagiarized.
A reader sent along a photo of the first page of a children's book called "Rosa Parks: My Story," by Parks and Jim Haskins. It's unmistakably similar:
And here's the image of the student athlete's paper from the ESPN report:
Julius Nyang’oro, the former head of UNC’s African-American studies program, faces criminal charges for allegedly receiving payment for classes that never met. The university said earlier this year it would conduct an independent review of academic irregularities, in addition to any ongoing investigations by law enforcement into potential criminal aspects.
A whistleblower at the University of North Carolina has revealed a typo-riddled, 146-word term paper that earned a football player an A- in a bogus course meant to boost his GPA and keep him eligible.
The single-paragraph report on Rosa Parks was revealed in an ESPN interview with Mary Willingham, a campus tutor who spent a decade working with UNC athletes and who has taken the lead in speaking out about how the school allegedly jipped jocks out of a quality education.
In the segment, Willingham and former Tar Heel gridder Deunta Williams explained how athletes at the school were urged to take scam "paper classes," listed in course books as independent studies classes in departments such as African American Studies.
The classes had no attendance requirement, Willingham said, and students were only required to write a single paper to receive a high grade from an adviser.
"Athletes couldn't write a paper. They couldn't write a paragraph. They couldn't write a sentence," Willingham told ESPN.
"Some of these students could read at maybe a second- or third-grade level. But for an adult that is considered illiterate," she said.
Willingham said the Rosa Parks paper, which ran just 10 sentences long, was an example of the kind of work students were doing in the scam courses.
HBO's "Real Sports" program ran a similar segment on March 25.
Two former Tar Heels told "Real Sports" reporters that UNC athletics officials shuttled them into easy-A courses and even chose their majors for them.
Bryon Bishop, a former offensive lineman, said he was handed a predetermined schedule on the first day he stepped on campus.
Throughout his tenure, athletic department honchos told him, "To stay on course for graduation, you need to take these courses," Bishop told the show.
The damning reports come amid a shakeup in the world of big-time college football.
On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern University football players were employees of the school and therefore entitled to form a union.
The blockbuster decision sided with a group of football players at the Big Ten school who argued, among other points, that since their scholarships were tied to performance, they should have the right to collectively bargain.
Officials at the Evanston, Ill, university said the school would appeal the decision to NLRB brass in Washington.
The case could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a statement, UNC said HBO was reporting on old news and that officials conducted seven reviews over the past two years to institute reforms, including revamped department structures and improved classroom audits.
An eighth review was underway, university spokesman Joel Curran said.
"Our goal is to create an academic success program that is one of the best, if not the leader, among peer universities," Curran's statement said.
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