BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- In the week and a half since UMaine named Karlton Creech as it's new Director of Athletics, a cloud of controversy has intensified at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where he served as Senior Associate Director of Athletics. That controversy surrounds allegations of academic fraud involving classes heavily attended by student athletes.
On New Years Eve, the New York Times reported that a professor of Afro American Studies at the school was indicted for criminal charges for taking payments for a class back in the summer of 2011 that he never taught. That class, The Times reported, was attended by 18 student athletes on the football team and one former athlete... It is one of dozens of classes, that according to the report, never met.
The News and Observer of Raleigh North Carolina first broke the story back in the summer of 2011 and also reports on dozens of classes, athletes and non-athletes were enrolled in that did not meet or barely met.
And CNN aired a report last Tuesday Citing a researcher at UNC who said her own study of test scores found that out of 183 football and basketball players between 2004 and 2012, 8 percent were reading below a 4th grade level. 60 percent were between a 4th and 8th grade reading level--The university reportedly is analyzing the data to see if its accurate.
No report to date that we are aware of has linked the Athletic Department to the academic scandal. UNC launched its own investigation into the case and said it incorporated 120 new reforms to address concerns.
We spoke with UMaine's new Athletic Director Karlton Creech about this controversy. Here is a transcript of that interview.
Did you have any knowledge of student athletes being enrolled in classes that did not meet?
"I did not. When most of this happened ,it's now several years old a lot of what's being reported, I was in a development role. Working for the educational foundation which is our foundation for athletics here at North Carolina. I was not involved in that at all, not aware of it I wouldn't have any reason to be. I was on the external side, doing my work there. In the last couple of years I've been brought into the athletic department adminstration... a little more familiarity with whats happened but in fact most of the..actually all of the investigation has, and the looking into what happened, has been handled at the university level here. Not within the department of athletics. So even in my role here in the last couple of years i've had limited engagement with what's going on."
And how about knowledge of student athletes receiving grades they did not earn?
No. No knowledge of that. And certainly wouldn't have been in a situation to have that knowledge."
Do you think the athletics department had any knowledge of this at all?
I wouldn't be able to comment on that I wasn't a member of the athletic department staff when these things were happening three plus years ago. I can tell you there have been many corrective measures taken at the university level and at the athletic department since these allegations first came out many years ago. And so I believe the university has been proactive in handling the situation and so they've done many things from an operational,organizational, and personell standpoint to correct what is being reported had happened.
How important is it to you that student athletes meet the same expectations as the rest of the student population?
It's very important. Part of my role as the athletic director at the university is to be working closely with the university leadership to make sure we're in alignment with the mission and goals of the university and that's Jeff Hecker the provost and Jimmy Jung, vice president for enrollment managment and we've just got to make sure we're aligned with each other. certainly students of many different backgrounds offer great benefits to the university community so we're going to hope to invite and welcome in students that can achieve at the university level and contribute to the overall well being of the university."
You're from North Carolina, you spent your entire career there, at a division one athletics powerhouse on the national scale, why come to UMaine, which is a good school but clearly not in the same league as a UNC?
The University of Maine is a great academic instiution it has a great reputation it's the flagship institution of the state of Maine much like the University of North Carolina is to the state of North Carolina so there are many similarities which made that a very attractive situation for me and certainly coming from an associate ADrole in North Carolina to the director of athletics role here at Maine is very different and a great promotion for me personally and so I'm thrilled about the opportunity and I think the University of Maine is a great place and a place that I can be succesful and achieve some great things in athletic(s).