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UNC escapes sanctions from accrediting body

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will not be sanctioned for the academic scandal involving its athletic department, the agency that accredits the school announced Thursday.
    
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges also announced it will monitor UNC for a year as it carries out reforms it says will "make whole" the academic degrees of former students who took fraudulent African studies classes.
    
"The board felt that they were doing as much due diligence as was possible," Belle Wheelan, president of the commission, told The News & Observer of Raleigh. "I know that the people - some of the people anyway - who were involved in (the fraud) are no longer at the university, so what do you do? So all they can do is change their policies to ensure that it doesn't happen again, and then try and find the students to see if they can't make those degrees whole somehow."
    
The university will have to submit a report next April on its progress toward that goal.
    
A months-long investigation of academic fraud at the state's flagship school showed problems were confined to wrongdoing by the former chairman and an administrator of the school's African studies department and didn't involve other faculty or members of the athletic department.
    
A probe was launched after the disclosure of the academic transcript of former UNC football star and basketball player Julius Peppers.
    
Peppers, who left the university in 2002 to enter the National Football League, earned Bs or better in African studies classes but poor grades in many of his other classes. An earlier probe found irregularities dating from 2007 in 54 courses where instructors did not teach, grades were changed and faculty signatures were faked on grade reports.
    
The investigation led by former Gov. Jim Martin said the university's Department of African and Afro-American Studies remained at the heart of the two-year athletic and academic scandal that contributed to the departure of football coach Butch Davis and resignation of Chancellor Holden Thorp.

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