The University of North Carolina’s cheating scandal is the “largest and most nefarious” case of academic fraud in NCAA history, Drake Group president Gerald Gurney told CNN Thursday night. But is it really the worst college cheating scandal of all time?
A report released Wednesday by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein detailed two UNC employees’ creation of hundreds of fake “paper classes” in which students got high grades with little work. The courses, with no required attendance and no faculty involvement, boosted many student-athletes’ grade averages so they stayed eligible for playing. An NCAA investigation is in progress, and UNC has fired at least nine employees.
Gurney, who analyzes academic corruption in college sports, marveled at the scope of the 18-year, 3,100-student scam. “The depth and breadth of the scheme -- involving counselors, coaches, academic administrators, faculty, athletic administrators, etc. -- eclipses any previous case,” he told CNN.
The UNC scam has drawn comparison with some other notorious scandals. Here are a few of the biggest academic transgressions in the U.S. and their consequences:
Plagiarism at Harvard
In 2012, about 125 Harvard University students were investigated for plagiarizing and collaborating on a take-home exam, according to the Harvard Crimson. Undergraduates found to have cheated on the Government 1310: Introduction to Congress test were forced to temporarily withdraw from the school.
Southern University Grade-Changing Scandal
More than 500 students were involved in a Southern University grade-changing scandal exposed in 2004, Diverse Education reported. For eight years, an assistant registrar accepted money from students to improve their grades in the school’s computer system. He was fired.
FSU Online Cheating
At Florida State University, about 60 student-athletes were busted in 2007 for cheating in online classes. Three FSU employees gave them too much help, at times feeding them test answers and writing parts of their papers, according to ESPN. FSU was placed on probation, vacated wins and reduced scholarships.
Naval Academy Exam Scam
Ten years ago, a United States Naval Academy midshipman sold copies of an electrical engineering exam before it was given. More than 130 people cheated by practicing their answers and bringing notes into the test, the Wall Street Journal reported. Two dozen middies were expelled.
UVA Degrees Revoked
Over five semesters, roughly 160 students in a University of Virginia physics class turned in 1,500-word plagiarized papers. In 2001, the school expelled 45 of the cheating students, according to the Wall Street Journal. Three alumni had their degrees revoked.