North Carolina is in the midst of academic fraud scandal involving bogus, paper-classes, that according to an independent investigation involved 3,100 student-athletes during an 18-year span.
To help manage the fallout, the university hired Edelman, a public relations firm, several months ago. And it has been a costly hire, according to a report on Thursday from the News & Observer, as the university is set to pay the firm $1.65 million.
A copy of the contract provided under a public records request shows Edelman will receive more than $1.65 million for public relations services over the period of a year, ending April 30, 2015. The contract is not specific as to what kinds of services the firm will provide, but UNC officials confirmed last month that at least 14 employees from the firm worked on the public release of former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein’s report on the scandal.
Wainstein released his findings from his investigation on Oct. 22. The report stated that student-athletes, many of them football and basketball players, were steered into classes that required no attendance, only a paper at the end of the semester.
This scandal remerged over the summer when Rashad McCants, a member of the North Carolina team that won the 2005 national championship, told Outside the Lines in June that he took four African and African-American Studies courses, a department that was revealed to have many of these paper classes, in the second semester of his junior year in order to remain academically eligible.
A UNC spokersperson told Kane that the public relation will not be covered by state funds or tuition dollars.