For months, the mainstream media have given the University of North Carolina a free pass after reports of an alleged academic fraud relating to both UNC football and basketball teams. On most major news outlets, reporters simply tossed the claims to the side and gave the story very little daylight. One UK fan decided that the scandal had went on too long unreported. Since the writers at CBS are all too busy trying to paint John Calipari in a negative light, Jacob Kiper decided to take matters in his own hands. He put on his journalism hat and did some undercover investigative reporting.
Jacob had an ingenious plan. He was going to email Kenneth Janken, Professor of UNC Afro-American Studies, posing as a prospective student athlete interested in the major. Jacob told me that he had a couple of theories that he hoped Dr. Jaken would prove in return emails. Unfortunately, Kenneth Janken got wise to Jacob and figured him out. Jacob then received a nasty email from Dr. Janken in which he accuses Jacob of being just as corrupt as the UNC scandal itself.
When I asked Jacob why he decided to check things out on his own, he replied:
Over the last month, I have been trying to do some of my own digging into the African & Afro-American Studies Department at UNC. I e-mailed Dr. Kenneth Janken of the AFAM Dept to ask some basic and seemingly non-threatening questions about the department.
I fully realized that I was not likely to get a reply, so I innocently claimed to be a rising high school senior and prospective student interested in majoring n African & Afro-American Studies. I figured Dr. Janken would give some answers and reply to a prospective student… and I was right. We exchanged 5-6 e-mails… even though I never got anything damning out of him. In fact, he unknowingly shot down one of my theories that I was testing. After he shot down my theory, I posted his response and name on a UK and NC State message board.
Below is a copy of the email that Kenneth Janken sent to Jacob in reply :
Dear Jacob Kiper,
You lied to me about who you are when you wrote to me requesting information about my academic department. I resent that greatly. You are a Kentucky Wildcat fan looking to dig up some dirt on a rival college’s basketball program. It is precisely your outsized (and unhealthy) appetite for sport that creates the lucrative market for big-time college athletics and that creates the conditions for the corruption of the academic mission of higher education. Your lie, sir, shows you to be
a fraud, little different, if at all, from the people you purport to expose. There are many things wrong with big-time college sports, not the least of which are fans like you.
After receiving the above e-mail, the first thing that Jacob noticed was the fact Dr. Janken called him a Kentucky Wildcat fan. Jacob says :
The first thing to note is that in our exchange of e-mails, I never once mentioned sports, college basketball, or being a Kentucky Wildcat fan. I’ve sent several other e-mails to UNC digging for info… so either someone recognized my name at UNC and word got around to not talk to me… or someone at UNC is patrolling this message board and told Dr. Janken that he’s been talking to someone trying to find dirt and he needs to shut up. I think the obvious answer is that UNC is patrolling this message board… and saw that I had been e-mailing with Dr.Janken… so they tipped him off.
Quickly, Jacob responded to Dr. Jenkan with the following :
Dear Dr. Kenneth Janken,
My lie shows that I realized that if I was forthright with my identity, I would have been given no information. Sir, do not equate my asking for information on your program under a false story with the rampant academic fraud within your department… largely involving basketball and football players. While the story on my identity that was handed to you was indeed fraudulent, my fraud is nowhere near the magnitude of thefraud that is slowly being uncovered around you. While I do not begrudge you for being miffed that I told you an untruth, surely you jest when suggesting that my fraud is “little different” than at least 54 fraudulent classes over a 5 year period. I trust that after an external investigation is completed, the truth will find that the fraud in your department intended to keep athletes eligible for competition will encompass far more than 54 classes and 5 years. Claiming that I am little different from those who I intend to expose is a farce. My personal fraud did not lead to a fraudulent college degree for hundreds of students. My fraud did not come at the expense of state dollars. My fraud did not come at the expense of the academic integrity of a public institution and athletic program. Sir, I am a highly educated man as well. Big words and well-formed sentences do not intimidate me.
–Jacob R. Kiper
Kentucky fan and individual interested in the truth
As far as I know, there have been no other response from the North Carolina Professor of Afro-American studies. Jacob says he is just a “common fan with obsessive passion” about UK and wanted to do some research that the media wouldn’t do. While his private investigation of the matter didn’t uncover anything shocking by itself, I believe it has helped push the matter to national attention. Gregg Doyel ,of CBS, now says that “Banners have to come down” at North Carolina, so we will just have to wait and see how it all plays out.