Hiring N.Y. lawyer not answer to UNC troubles
To quote Will Rogers, “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.” According to the Daily Tar Heel, UNC Chapel Hill is hiring a New York attorney, Kenneth Wainstein, to investigate the football and basketball brouhaha. He is a prominent attorney with excellent credentials. The newspaper reports that he is being hired at $990 an hour and they have no agreement as to how long he takes.
I appreciate the fact that UNC is using this attorney because they want the very best. Also, hiring an out-of-state attorney was done to insure an unbiased report. However, there are three problems with their decision.
First, jumpin' grasshoppers! $990 an hour! That figure is too high -- and they have no agreement as to how long he takes.
Second, they could hire a private investigator -- that is the profession needed here. That would be far less costly.
Third, we have plenty of talent in North Carolina. We don't need to go to New York. Perhaps former governor Jim Martin's report did not go deep enough into the facts, but there are many distinguished North Carolinians that have great credentials like Martin has. The job could be done in a vigorous manner -- and not be long and protracted. It would be better for UNC to hire a person from North Carolina.
UNC either has confidence in North Carolinians or not. If not, what does all the fancy language in the UNC Charter mean?
Of course, we should make sure that the investigator has no ties with UNC.
Another option is that they could simply not hire anyone for the job. It already is being investigated on several levels. Our district attorney is investigating the matter as well as the UNC internal investigation. We already have tens of thousands of pages of investigative material.
If UNC created the problem, they can correct it.
Hiring someone without a time limitation is cause for concern.
The hiring of a New York lawyer for this purpose may not do what is needed, which is for UNC to clean up their act. The preferential treatment of sports athletes is a problem that has existed for decades. We saw it as a universal way of life that was so ingrained that nothing could be done about it.
Mary Willingham felt it was time to do something to stop this practice. She made a study of the situation and then charged UNC with codling student athletes by having fake classes so they could pass. Members of the UNC faculty and staff responded by belittling both Willingham and her claims.
Instead of criticizing her, UNC at Chapel Hill should have worked with her and examined her findings in a cooperative way. Then they should have taken prompt steps to correct the situation.
A newspaper stated that Mary Willingham is considering filing an action against UNC provost Jim Dean and is also contacting a federal whistle-blowers protection agency.
Now the Student Athletes Human Rights Project has filed a complaint against UNC with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. The complaint alleges that all 19 students enrolled in a bogus African American class in 2011 were black athletes. Further, it alleges the improper conduct of UNC staff members cheated student athletes of a proper education.
Mistakes by UNC have caused a lot of people to be very unhappy. This, in turn, means that the UNC staff is spending time defending itself. This time could be better spent on dealing with the problem and educating students.
UNC Chancellor Carol Folt is new to the job. This puts her in an excellent position to take charge of the situation, clean things up and insure that these problems will not re-emerge in the future.
Stanley Peele is a retired judge.