North Carolina Athletic Department and Butch Davis Cleared of Violations by the Martin Report

By M. Shannon Smallwood
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

And just like that, it’s all over…Well, maybe.

The North Carolina Tar Heels Athletic Department sat in a room full of university officials and the board of trustees this morning as former North Carolina governor Jim Martin detailed his findings from a three-month long independent investigation into the academic scandal that has rocked the school.

The verdict for the Athletic Program was: not guilty.

“This was not an athletic scandal,” Martin said in his presentation. “It was an academic scandal, which is worse.”

Martin released his report to university trustees Thursday morning after he and national management consulting firm Baker Tilly spent more than three months compiling nearly 20 years of enrollment data, reviewing records and interviewing dozens of students, staff and officials connected to an academic fraud scandal that pointed directly to then-head football coach Butch Davis and current head basketball coach Roy Williams.

UNC officials reported that 54 lecture-style classes within the African-American Studies Department over the past four years never actually met and required only a paper turned in at the end of the semester. Their report also found that Independent Studies in the department were not properly tracked.

Martin’s report expanded that number substantially to 216 classes with problems and 454 grades that had been changed.

The report laid the blame on Julius Nyang’oro, the former department chairman, and his assistant Deborah Crowder.

“No evidence from our review points to any else’s involvement beyond Ms. Crowder and Dr. Nyang’oro,” the report said. “While we cannot definitively conclude regarding the degree of Ms. Crowder’s responsibility for the academic anomalies noted in this report, both this review and (an earlier report) found a dramatic reduction in academic anomalies after Summer 2009, which coincided with the time of Ms. Crowder’s retirement.”

Davis has officially been cleared. Everyone knew Williams and the basketball program was clean or would never take a hit, but Davis was an interesting hire at best and has had a history of sketchy management.

“For the past two years, a few loud voices in this community have clamored that (Butch) Davis has somehow tarnished the reputation of the University (of North Carolina),” attorney Jon Sasser said in a prepared statement. “The Martin Report has confirmed that the opposite is true. … Separate investigations by UNC, the NCAA, and Gov. Martin have now unanimously concurred with what those who have worked with Coach Davis already knew: He has always valued education, and he has consistently honored the letter and spirit of the rules.”

The report found no problems beyond the African-American Studies Department (AFRI/AFAM).

“I believe personally that the big money from television contracts does distort values of collegiate sports programs, but we found no evidence that it was a factor in these anomalous courses,” Martin wrote in the report. “Despite what one might imagine, there is no evidence the Counselors, or the students, or the coaches had anything to do with perpetrating this abuse of the AFRI/AFAM curriculum, or any other.”

So if you are a school still looking for a head coach, Davis is now available. Well–maybe.

The complete report was also delivered to the NCAA today for them to review its findings.


M Shannon Smallwood has over 10 years of experience in broadcasting and journalism in professional baseball and college athletics and is the ACC Football Guru, SEC Voice of Reason and College Football Comedian for Rant Sports. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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