Earlier this year the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges, (SACS) the main accrediting body for most colleges and universities in the southeast, informed UNC-Chapel Hill that it must ensure the legitimacy of the degrees the school granted to former athletes who took fraudulent classes over a period going back to the 1990s.
The News and Observer reported that SACS president Belle Wheelan, said one solution would be for UNC Chapel Hill to bring back those graduates and provide them with free courses. Wheelan said.
“Is it really fair for them to have that degree versus students who got the same degree but actually did the work for those classes in question? . . We’re looking for some way of going back to clean, that up . . .a way of making the degree whole.”
Huh? The obstacles to such an arrangement are many and not difficult to find. So we’ll leave that for later. Wheelan seems to be asking the campus to clean up a problem that no one detected for years.
Both UNC Chapel Hill and SACS have a lot at stake in cleaning up the current mess. UNC Chapel Hill has work to do to restore its reputation in academics and athletics. The fraudulent classes for athletes say much about the culture at Chapel Hill. However the cloud of scandal that has enveloped Chapel Hill says more about SACS. An accrediting body that is unable to ensure institutional integrity jeopardizes the quality of its own work. The value of accreditation may be one of the bigger casualties in the fallout from the athletics scandal at UNC.