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UNC Athletics: Over to You, Carol

Carol Folt4.jpgWhen the Andrew Lohse hazing scandal broke in Hanover, Jim Kim was utterly silent on the matter for five and a half weeks. Of course, he had an explanation — not that he shared it with anyone. He was running around Washington doing interviews like a Dartmouth senior looking for a post-graduation job.

However, down in Chapel Hill, what’s Carol’s excuse for her silence in the face of the metastasizing athletics scandal? Ned Barnett, the editorial page editor of Raleigh’s News & Observer, analyzes the UNC administration’s ongoing PR strategy as follows:

This run of news ought to bring an end to UNC-CH’s hopes that the scandal will go away on its own. Certainly school officials have exhausted their previous three approaches: 1) There’s nothing to see here. Everybody move along. 2) This situation was confined to two bad apples in the African and Afro-American Studies Department who have since departed - the former chairman, Julius Nyang’oro, and the department’s longtime manager, Deborah Crowder. 3) Everybody does it. Why are you picking on us?

Now the response has moved to Step 4: stonewall.

A review conducted by former Gov. Jim Martin determined that there were more than 200 confirmed or suspected no-show classes.

He concludes his piece by asking Chancellor Folt to do her job:

The refusal to simply open the files and let the truth out only extends and broadens the damage to UNC-CH’s once stellar reputation for integrity. And it’s only going to get worse if information is forced out in the trial of Nyang’oro, who has been charged with taking $12,000 in state pay for a class he never taught. The professor, who retired and has maintained silence on his role, wants to give his side of the story, his lawyer said.

Former Chancellor Holden Thorp was pushed from office by his underestimating the scale and impact of this scandal. Now his successor, Carol Folt, is silent while she stands by the university’s withholding of the requested information on classes.

This is a case where the university needs to say what is hard to admit. It should reveal all that was going on with the phony classes and athletes. And it’s a full disclosure that must be demanded by Folt. After six months on the job, her time for assessing the situation is up. Coming from Dartmouth, a private school, she should demonstrate that she knows the responsibility of leading a public university includes holding it accountable to the public.

Those who love the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill should stop worrying about protecting reputations and athletic titles and stand up for what should claim a university’s first loyalty - the truth.

It’s that, not time, that will set it free.

Jim Wright taught Carol that in the face of controversy one need only fold one’s arms and wait out any adversaries. That may have worked in lil’ ol’ Hanover. At UNC the stakes are higher and the critics tougher. Poor Carol. She has not a clue what to do.

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