Following embarrassing revelations about a former football player’s plagiarized term paper, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp told the school’s board of trustees today that the university is working on improving the school’s student-run academic honor court.
"Regardless of our situation with football, it makes good sense to look at the honor system and discus how we could provide resources to the students and faculty to help them in their academic work and understand academic honesty in the electronic age,” Thorp told the Board of Trustees today.
Earlier this month, it was discovered that UNC failed to discover that a paper in a Swahili course turned in by former Tar Heel player Michael McAdoo included substantial material copied from other texts.
The honor court failed McAdoo, suspended him and gave him an F in the course based on inappropriate bibliography citations, but did not notice the plagiarism in the paper. The material lifted from other texts was not discovered until McAdoo’s paper became public in a court case where McAdoo unsuccessfully argued to be reinstated.
N.C. State fans and later media members ran the paper through an online plagiarism checker. The News & Observer found that 39 percent of the paper was copied from other texts.
“I am deeply disappointed by the recent revelation of plagiarism in one student-athlete’s favor,” Thorp said. “…I wish we could have caught that.”
Thorp told reporters after the Board of Trustees meeting that he didn’t know what specific changes might be made to the student-run honor court, and said discussions are ongoing.
He said the situation has brought attention to the honor court, which has a long tradition at UNC.
"I am very encouraged by the discussions I've had with faculty members in the last couple of weeks," Thorp said
Students have pledged to abide by an honor code for more than 130 years. When students are accused of violating the code, they are judged by a court of their peers.
David Scott has been with the Observer for 28 years and has written about ACC, SEC and other college sports in the Charlotte region. He covers Wake Forest, South Carolina and college soccer for the Observer and (Raleigh) News & Observer.
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Luke DeCock has worked for The News & Observer since 2000. He covered the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a sports columnist for the Observer and News & Observer in August 2008.