Latest on UNC hoops’ connection to the academic scandal

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Jason McIntyre over at The Big Lead took his turn doing a little bit of investigative work into the growing academic scandal at North Carolina.

And while he — like the Raleigh News & Observer, who has been all over this story — has yet to find direct evidence that unquestionably links the basketball team to the academic fraud, the amount of smoke growing around Roy Williams’ program makes it more and more difficult to believe that there isn’t fire in there somewhere.

TBL’s findings focuses on two people: Wayne Welden and Deb Crowder.

Welden was in charge of tracking the academic progress of Williams’ program at Kansas and followed him to North Carolina in 2003. Interestingly enough, Welden was listed as the responsible person for the Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams for the Spring 2010 through Fall 2011 semesters.

Crowder was an administrator in the African and Afro-American Studies department, where the majority of the academic fraud is alleged to have taken place. She had “unusual access” to the team and also left her position in the summer of 2009, a full year before the story about the scandal broke. From TBL:

So in 2009, a year before the scandal went public, the academic adviser to the basketball team – a team which had a history of players who majored in African and Afro-American Studies – left UNC, as did a longtime administrator in that department. Since the departures of Walden and Crowder, records obtained by the News & Observer (click here for the UNC academic info PDF) show a dramatic drop in athletes majoring in African and Afro-American Studies. We specifically looked at the basketball team’s numbers in that major from when Roy Williams took over in 2003-2004, and here are the numbers we found (African & Afro-American majors/players who had chosen a major):

2003-04 AA 5/13
2004-05 AA 7/13 <—- Won NCAA title.
2005-06 AA 3/11
2006-07 AA 3/15
2007-08 AA 2/12
2008-09 AA 1/16  <— Walden and Crowder left after this school year.
2009-10 AA 0/10
2010-11 AA 0/8
2011-12 AA 0/9

Again, this is nothing definitive.

It’s possible that this is all a coincidence.

But I get the feeling that there is more to this story that will eventually come out.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.