Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The NCAA said Monday it has reopened its investigation into possible academic fraud at the University of North Carolina.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the decision by the NCAA to reopen the 2011 case comes amid lingering questions regarding the school's athletic department and no-show classes within the African and Afro-American Studies Department.
The newspaper said a high percentage of athletes filled those courses, and questions remain if the athletes were steered to those classes by athletic department personnel.
The NCAA, which cited the university in 2012 for academic misconduct in its athletic programs, said it revisits cases when additional information is made available.
"After determining that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might be willing to speak with the enforcement staff, the NCAA has reopened its investigation (against North Carolina," the NCAA said in a statement.
"The enforcement staff is exploring this new information to ensure an exhaustive investigation is conducted based on all available information. The NCAA will not comment further to protect the integrity of the investigation."
According to the Observer, an academic transcript of a former football player acquired by the Raleigh News & Observer prompted UNC to investigate lecture- style classes within the African Studies Department that never met.
"Since 2011, the university has conducted and commissioned numerous reviews of this matter and provided the NCAA with updates," UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. "In February, the university retained former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein to conduct an independent investigation and instructed him to share relevant information directly and confidentially with the NCAA."
On June 6 this year, UNC men's basketball coach Roy Williams disputed comments made by former Tar Heels star Rashad McCants that Williams knew about potential academic fraud at the university.
McCants, in a story for ESPN's "Outside the Lines", said tutors wrote papers for him and that he rarely went to class during his time at North Carolina and remained eligible to play.
In addition, McCants said Williams knew about the "paper-class" system, in which players didn't have to attend class and were required to only submit one term paper to receive a grade.
McCants spent three seasons at North Carolina from 2002-05 and helped the 2004-05 squad capture the national championship.
Julius Nyang'Oro, a former UNC professor, was indicted in December on a felony charge of receiving $12,000 in payment for a lecture course in which the classes were never held. He resigned in 2011 during an investigation by the school that reportedly showed undocumented grade changes. Nyang'Oro retired the following year.
In 2012, the NCAA imposed a one-year bowl ban for the Tar Hells football team. North Carolina fired Butch Davis as football coach in July 2011 in the wake of the scandal. Associate head coach John Blake resigned after it was revealed his relationship with a pro agent was a significant source of the impropriety.