Ithaca, N.Y. — A former employee of the University of North Carolina now working at Cornell has been implicated in a scandal enveloping the southern school.

Cynthia Reynolds, who was UNC’s director of football from 2002 to 2010, refused to cooperate in an investigation that found thousands of students were directed to take “paper classes” to keep them eligible for its sports program, according to multiple reports.

Reynolds is now an academic programs coordinator at Cornell within Applied Engineering & Physics.

CNN reports:

“For 18 years, thousands of students at the prestigious University of North Carolina took fake “paper classes,” and advisers funneled athletes into the program to keep them eligible, according to a scathing independent report released Wednesday.

….

“Former head football coach John Bunting admitted that he knew of the paper classes and said that former Director of Football Cynthia Reynolds told him they were part of her strategy to keep players eligible.

Reynolds, who is now an academic program coordinator at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, was one of four employees who refused to cooperate with (the) investigation.

Cornell Vice President of University Relations Joel Malina said in a statement Thursday that the UNC scandal is not relevant to her position in Ithaca.

This is Malina’s statement:

“Whatever information Ms. Reynolds may have pertinent to this inquiry relates to her prior employment at the University of North Carolina and does not pertain to her position at Cornell.

As such, this is a matter between Ms. Reynolds and the University of North Carolina. Although Cornell offered Ms. Reynolds paid release time to speak with Mr. Wainstein if she chose to do so, this was her decision to make. Cornell has had no involvement — previously or currently — in the matter, and, as such, has no additional comment.”

Reynolds did not immediately return a request for comment from The Voice.

A report in the News Observer, a North Carolina publication, released more details about Reynolds’ alleged role in the scandal.

The News Observer said:

“Reynolds did not just refuse to talk. She threatened to call the police on investigators.

When she was first contacted in April, Reynolds refused to speak with Wainstein’s team. They wrote back; she refused again. Investigators really wanted to talk with her because she was a key participant in the scandal as the lead football counselor when enrollment in the fraudulent classes peaked.

“Reynolds not only sought out the classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, she told departmental administrator Deborah Crowder what grades the football players needed to stay active.

According to Crowder, Reynolds routinely provided her at the beginning of each semester with a list of the football players registered in her paper classes and the grade that each player needed to remain in good standing,” the report said. “Crowder said that she ignored the grade suggestions, knowing full well that she would award any student who submitted a paper with a fairly high grade.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.