Cadwalader Partner Kenneth L. Wainstein Briefs Board of Governors of University of North Carolina: Wainstein Issues Statement Regarding Ongoing Independent Investigation into Irregular Courses

Jun 20, 2014

Contact(s)

Robert Robertson
New York
+1 212 504 6897
robert.robertson@cwt.com
Aimee Baxter
New York
+1 212 504 6454
aimee.baxter@cwt.com

Kenneth L. Wainstein, a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP and chair of the Firm’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Group, today briefed the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina about the process he is following in his independent investigation into irregular courses at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.  Mr. Wainstein, who was engaged to conduct the independent investigation in late February 2014, spoke to the Board of Governors in a public session this morning during the Board’s previously-scheduled June meeting.  Following his meeting with the Board of Governors, Mr. Wainstein issued the following statement:        

I was invited to meet with the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina this morning during its regular June meeting and shared with them an update on my independent investigation of academic irregularities at UNC-Chapel Hill and their relationship to athletics.  The purpose was to provide the Board of Governors with an overview of the scope and depth of our investigation, the process we are following, and the level of cooperation we have received from the University to date.  The purpose was not to discuss any factual findings from our investigation, as those findings are not yet complete and will not be reported until we finish our investigation and release our public report.  

In late February, I was hired along with my law firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, by President Tom Ross and Chancellor Carol Folt to undertake an independent investigation at UNC-Chapel Hill. The focus of our investigation has been to determine all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the creation and maintenance of irregular courses that were offered in what was then known as the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, the length of time that they existed, the extent of their use by students, including student athletes, and whether such irregular courses were also offered elsewhere at UNC-Chapel Hill.  At the outset of the investigation, President Ross and Chancellor Folt directed me to “ask the tough questions, follow the facts wherever they lead, and get the job done.”  And that is exactly what we have been doing since February.  

At their request, we have sought to determine answers to the following questions:  

  1. When, how, and why did the irregular courses begin, who was involved in designing, offering and carrying them out, and how long did they continue?
  2. What role did the Athletic Department, or its staff, play in the origination, continuation or use by student athletes of the irregular courses?
  3. To what extent were different UNC-Chapel Hill employees – faculty, athletics staff and administrators – involved in or aware of these irregular courses?    
  4. What was the response of the University and its officials as the facts and circumstances of the irregular courses became known? 

As I shared with the Board of Governors this morning, our investigation is deep and far-reaching.  Thus far, we have interviewed more than 80 individuals, some on more than one occasion.  Our interviews have included faculty members, Athletic Department staff, academic advisors, athletic academic counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes, administrators, and students, including student athletes.  We have collected and searched approximately 1.5 million emails and electronic documents from more than 30 individuals, including faculty members, athletics administrators and others, and have used those emails and documents extensively in our interviews.  We are also analyzing student records, including transcripts, of thousands of students going back to the 1980s.  The University and its employees have been extraordinarily helpful and cooperative, responding to our requests for access to witnesses, documents and information quickly and completely. 

We received a full briefing from North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agents Eric Hooks and Blane Hicks, who conducted an exceptionally thorough investigation that overlapped with the scope of our work.  We have also received access to two critical witnesses, Julius Nyang’oro and Deborah Crowder, thanks in large part to the efforts and assistance of Orange County District Attorney James Woodall, Jr. 

We have also received emails and telephone calls from a number of individuals reaching out to us with information they believe may shed light on the issues we are investigating.  The information volunteered by many of these people has proven to be extremely valuable.  We encourage anyone else with such information to contact us.

As President Ross and Chancellor Folt explained, our mandate is to conduct an investigation that is completely independent of the University and its faculty, staff, and administration.  That is the course we have been following.  We alone have decided upon the investigative strategy and plan, have identified the witnesses to interview and the documents and data to review and analyze, and have selected which investigative avenues to pursue.  We appreciate that the University has shown the utmost respect for our independence and that its officials have done nothing to interfere with or influence our investigation.  We also appreciate that they have limited their public comments to protect the integrity of our investigation, and have refrained from conducting any of their own investigation while ours is ongoing.    

Over the course of the summer, my team and I will continue our investigation.  Given the scope and complexity of our ongoing work, we cannot predict with any certainty when the investigation will be finished.  Upon completion, we will submit a written report of our investigation and findings which the University will make public.    

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