RALEIGH, North Carolina — North Carolina's flagship public university on Tuesday for the first time identified one of the employees disciplined after an investigation into a long-running scheme involving fake classes and inflated grades that helped athletes stay eligible to compete.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill responded to a public records request with a document showing that Jaimie Lee lost her $39,000-a-year academic counseling job the same day the report was published last month.
Former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein found that while the sham courses were in one academic department, multiple people around campus knew of them or suspected something but said nothing.
Lee, 32, knew all about the fake classes, including that crucial term papers were graded by a friendly department secretary rather than a professor, the report said. A Chapel Hill telephone number listed for Lee was disconnected Tuesday and she could not be reached for comment.
Lee and another academic counselor delivered a presentation to Tar Heel football coaches in November 2009 describing how much players had relied on the fake grades to stay academically eligible. Lee then asked the now-retired chairman of the former African and Afro-American Studies Department continue the sham classes. Prof. Julius Nyang'oro began grading papers "with an eye to boosting" a student's grade-point average, according to the report.
Nyang'oro stepped down in 2011 as questions were raised.
The document showing the end of Lee's employment was first released to WRAL-TV, then to The Associated Press and other members in a coalition of North Carolina news organizations that sued the school Monday to force it to disclose the nine campus employees fired or disciplined.
UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt said on the day the report was released that four campus employees were fired and disciplinary actions started against five others.
North Carolina's public records law requires state agencies, including public universities, to make employee records available. That includes records regarding their dismissal, suspension, or demotion for disciplinary reasons. Campus officials have said the disclosure isn't required until after an employee has finished appealing the decision.
"The university will comply fully with the North Carolina Public Records Act and the State Human Resources Act by disclosing and protecting public information about all employees as is required and allowed by those statutes," campus spokesman Rick White said in a statement.
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