UNC faces a gentler set of NCAA allegations | The News & Observer

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Apr 262016
 

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By Dan Kane
April 25, 2016

The NCAA handed UNC-Chapel Hill a new notice of allegations Monday – a much smaller, 13-page document that is a gentler take on the academic-athletic scandal than the first notice delivered nearly a year ago.

The new notice removed an impermissible benefits charge that pertained to athletes who took fake classes from the fall of 2002 through the summer of 2011, and replaced it with a failure to comply with rules charge that starts in the fall of 2005. The new notice continues to assess a lack of institutional control charge against UNC, but also limits the misconduct to the fall of 2005 going forward for athletes in sports other than women’s basketball.

Football and men’s basketball are no longer mentioned as leading beneficiaries of the fake classes. In fact, the notice doesn’t mention them at all, and instead cites misconduct involving athletes in general in the lack of institutional control and failure to comply allegations.

The new notice, as expected, includes more examples of misconduct by Jan Boxill, a former academic counselor to the women’s basketball team. The NCAA said Boxill provided extra impermissible benefits by writing parts of papers in 15 cases, completing a quiz in another and asking for specific grades for two athletes. UNC had brought additional examples of Boxill’s misconduct to the NCAA in August, which caused a delay in the case as the NCAA prepared a new notice of allegations.

An attorney for Boxill, the former faculty leader who was forced to retire last year, said the allegations in the notice are “incorrect and based on email conversations that were taken out of context.”

“Dr. Boxill has never spoken publicly about the scandal, but she did testify before the NCAA,” said attorney Randall Roden. “She explained that she did not know anything about the fake classes or who was grading the papers – and no one connected to the women’s basketball team knew those things. There is no legitimate reason for the women’s basketball team to be singled out for special scrutiny or punishment.”

The notice said Boxill’s conduct was so egregious that the NCAA waived its four-year statute of limitations. That statute wasn’t mentioned for the other allegations, including lack of institutional control.

The new notice says others in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes did not know what they were doing was wrong.

“Because of this failure of leadership and oversight, those charged with providing academic support for student-athletes did not believe their actions or the actions of the AFRI/AFAM department were inappropriate,” the new notice said.

Five Level I infractions

A detailed investigation backed by UNC found the scandal began in 1993, after Deborah Crowder, a former departmental manager for the African and Afro-American Studies department received complaints from academic counselors to the athletes about the rigor of the department’s independent studies. Crowder, an ardent UNC basketball fan who was not a faculty member, began creating the classes and grading them.

Her boss, professor Julius Nyang’oro, continued the classes after Crowder retired in 2009. Nyang’oro, the department chairman, was forced to retire in 2012.

Athletes made up half of the roughly 3,100 students enrolled in the classes, with men’s football and men’s basketball leading the athletic enrollments. Experts say it’s the worst academic fraud in the NCAA’s history, but the NCAA in both notices has not labeled the classes as fraudulent.

NCAA officials declined to comment on the new notice. UNC did not make public any evidentiary exhibits associated with the new notice, which are expected to be released after redactions.

All five allegations in the notice are “Level 1” infractions that can carry serious penalties such as vacated wins and championships, post-season bans, scholarship reductions and heavy fines. The new notice, just as the first, asks UNC to respond to potential NCAA championship losses and fines for having ineligible athletes competing in those championships.

That would presumably put the 2009 men’s basketball championship in play, but the athletes on that team had far fewer enrollments in fake classes than the 2005 team, which had heavy enrollments in the classes.

The notice is not the final word in the case, which now will require a response from UNC within 90 days, followed by a hearing before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.

Cheers and disbelief

The new notice drew cheers from UNC sports fans on Twitter, while fans of other schools tweeted disbelief.

Jay Smith, a UNC history professor who is a leading critic of the university’s handling of the case, said the new notice appeared to shield the 2005 men’s championship, which he called “the most-stained championship in UNC’s history.” The NCAA is largely supported by revenues from the men’s basketball tournament, and has never taken away a championship.

“I would say that the NCAA has proven once again why it’s an ineffective regulatory body, a paper tiger,” said Smith, who co-authored a book about the scandal with whistleblower Mary Willingham.

Others contend the NCAA should not be delving into the classes at the heart of the scandal. Jay Bilas, a former Duke basketball player and college basketball analyst for ESPN, has said that academic matters belong to the universities and their accrediting commissions.

Bilas contends the classes, were easy, not fake.

“Easy and fraudulent are different,” Bilas tweeted Monday. “The UNC matter is an accreditation issue, not an NCAA issue.”

UNC’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, put the university on probation for failing academic integrity standards and a lack of control over college sports, among other violations. But the accrediting agency has no authority over athletic contests, and probation is the strongest penalty it can mete beyond effectively shutting down a school by pulling its accreditation, which is unlikely to happen to UNC in this case.

In a telephone news conference, UNC’s Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham attributed the length of time between the first and second NCAA notices to the complexity of the case. In the interim, UNC’s men’s basketball team reached the championship game, only to fall short on a buzzer beater.

“It’s voluminous in nature and it’s over an extended period of time.” Cunningham said of the case. “So I think the volume and the time is probably why it has lasted this long.”

He said he did not know why the NCAA reduced the time frame for misconduct from the first notice.

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“Storm the Stadium” raises money for ECU’s student veteran services | WCTI

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Apr 252016
 

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By Aisha Mbowe
April 23, 2016

To view news video on WCTI, click here.

Dozens in Greenville started their Saturday morning climbing the 3200 steps at Dowdey-Finklen stadium for the inaugural Storm the Stadium. The event raised awareness and money for programs and scholarships for student veterans at East Carolina University.

“I’m a military wife I’ve been one for 23 years so this is something really important to me because I am also a veteran,” said participant Christina Macmiller.

The event not only allowed for participants to get active but also contribute to scholarships that are so important to helping veterans who return to school with the necessary expenses.

“The misconception is that the GI bill just covers all the costs and usually we need extra help for not just cost of living expenses but books and other school materials,” said student veteran Courtney Goodwin.

Finances are not the only challenges veterans can face after reentering society and deciding to go back to school.

“Coming from a close of brothers and the military sisters and coming to a new place and not hardly knowing anyone it’s hard to submerge yourself in a very young community,” said Military dependent and ECU student Dylan Rarey.

“Sometimes people are afraid to ask questions and that’s actually what you need to do, is reach to the veterans. It is really important especially with more than 22 veteran suicides a day, it truly is important to reach out to those old friends,” Macmiller said.

Organizers say since the first event was such a success, they plan on bringing it back next year.

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Dozens storm ECU stadium to support programs for student veterans | WNCT

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Apr 252016
 

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By Jacqueline Matter
April 23, 2016

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Dozens of people braved the rainy weather Saturday to storm the ECU stadium.

Both young and old walked and ran exactly 3,200 steps inside ECU’s stadium. Many participants were on teams of four to five people, with everyone encouraging each other to complete the mission.

One ECU ROTC student says this was one of the best workouts he’s had.

“It was a lot more stress on your quads and on your calves because it was the up and down movement instead of running straight so it was hard because I don’t usually do that type of thing,” said Harold Platenkamp. “It was good.”

The proceeds from Saturday’s event support programs and scholarships for student veterans.

ECU says there will be another Storm the Stadium event next year.

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Editorial: ECU assault also an assault on public’s right to know | The Daily Reflector

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Apr 252016
 

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April 24, 2016

After more than a month, many of the facts surrounding the alleged brutal March 17 beating of a man on the East Carolina University campus remain hidden from the public.

Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb has convinced ECU officials to keep a campus video recording of the incident out of public view, contrary to their expressed wish to share it with the public. Robb said the defendants’ due process outweighs the public’s need to see the video.

Robb said that has always been her blanket policy and should be applied to every case. She believes that access to the video, or any video in any case, will thwart justice; an unfounded claim.

But the state does not prescribe that the citizens of Pitt County and ECU officials must follow their district attorney’s personal views and policies. It prescribes law.

N.C. Statute 132-1.4 explains that while investigative information derived by a law enforcement agency from video surveillance is not public record, the video itself is. It further states that a public law enforcement agency (the DA’s Office) is not authorized to prevent another public agency having custody of the video (ECU) from sharing that public record with anyone.

The campus assault genuinely shocked and angered Chancellor Steve Ballard and ECU administrators and alarmed the wider community. It reportedly began as a verbal altercation outside a downtown nightclub when Patrick Myrick, 26, allegedly struck Amber Best, 23, in the face and knocked her to the ground. Myrick later was charged for hitting Best.

Several of Best’s friends confronted and assaulted Myrick, then chased him onto the campus where, joined by more people, they brutally beat him, police said. ECU police Sgt. Ralph Whitehurst, the first responder at the scene, did not detain any suspects. Instead, he handcuffed Myrick.

Whitehurst was fired Thursday.

Myrick is black. The six people charged are white. Police have not established a racial connection, but with little else to go on, many among the black population are deeply concerned.

A black community activist who met with Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman asked, “How can we help the black community deal with this situation if we can’t see what happened?”

This is an extremely complex situation for ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard and his staff, unnecessarily complicated by the DA’s actions. Ballard has genuinely decried the violence and Whitehurst’s conduct, but has complied with Robb’s request to keep the video from public scrutiny.

Ballard fully understands his first responsibility to the safety and security of his students and staff. But he also has an important public responsibility to refuse Robb’s request. Those two values are not in conflict here; Robb admittedly has a blanket policy of hindering the public’s right to know. Ballard’s is the opposite.

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Greenville St. Patrick’s Day assault victim appears in court for charge of hitting woman | WITN

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Apr 252016
 

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April 22, 2016
Lindsay Oliver

The victim of a St. Patrick’s Day assault that ended on ECU’s campus last month was in court Friday morning.

Patrick Myrick appeared before a judge at the Pitt County court house to face a misdemeanor assault on a female charge.

Police say Myrick hit a woman outside Club 519, knocking her down. They say that’s when others came to her aid and started attacking him.

Myrick got away, but was caught on campus where the attack continued, according to police.

Myrick’s case has been continued to June 3rd.

Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman says a total of six people will be charged in the assault.

Christopher Hill, 22, is the only one who has yet to be arrested.

Five others who have already been charged are Theresa Lee, Mack Humbles, Mark Privette, Jesse Wilbourn, and Chase Montanye.

The assault also led to the firing of an ECU police officer. ECU Police Chief Gerald Lewis says Sgt. Ralph Whitehurst was fired for not following proper procedures in the case. Whitehurst had worked for ECU police since 2004.

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UNC System must promote its value, president says | Star News

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Apr 252016
 

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By Hannah DelaCourt
April 22, 2016

WILMINGTON — Showcasing the economic impact the University of North Carolina System has on the state is one of the top priorities of UNC System President Margaret Spellings.

Speaking Friday afternoon to the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Spellings said the system must do a better job of telling its story, not only for the benefit of taxpayers, but as a tool for business recruitment and economic development.

That can include, she said, student mentorship opportunities with local businesses as well as partnerships between institutions like the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the business community on undergraduate and graduate research.

Bottom line, she said, the system needs to be clearer about the value proposition for taxpayers who may be skeptical about what they are getting for their buck.

“We have to continue to build consensus around education as a primary priority and driver of good things in our state,” she said. “Education has always been a way we come to consensus. We understand that investing in our future and investing in our people really is not a Democrat or Republican prerogative.”

Spellings said the system also must do a better job of closing the achievement gap in the state to meet the needs of its changing demographics.

“If we believe we are in a global knowledge economy, which we are, we have to make sure we do a much better job at providing opportunity and access and affordability to those that haven’t had access to higher education before,” she said, citing first-generation, poor and minority students.

To do that, the system must be able to adequately compensate its faculty and staff.

Speaking of Gov. Pat McCroy’s 2016-17 budget proposal, released Friday, Spellings said it showed recognition that the state must invest in excellent people to run excellent institutions.

“Those public servants need and deserve a raise,” she said. “It has been a long time since one was had and so we are fully supportive and looking forward to working with him and members of the legislature to get that done.”

Spellings told the UNCW Board of Trustees on Friday morning that she will be working with the General Assembly to secure compensation for faculty and staff during the budget short session this fall.

But Spellings and general administration also will be working with legislators in regards to any possible changes needed to HB2.

She said guidance to each of the institutions was that they did not need to change any of the policies they have with respect to hiring, but some federal funding could be in question due to the bill.

“If those funds are at risk, I think the legislature would not want us to lose those many hundreds of millions of dollars that may be at issue,” she said.

UNCW is the 13th institution in the UNC System Spellings has visited since she took office as system president March 1.

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ENC Split Over HB2 as Tourism Season Begins | Public Radio East

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Apr 252016
 

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By Christopher Thomas
April 22, 2016

To listen to the news story on Public Radio East, click here.

It’s been nearly a month since House Bill 2 became law, but economic, political, and social fall out continues.

Demonstrations for and against the law – from prayer rallies to boycotts – have created a thick cloud of controversy and anxiety, but it also raises questions.

Among them – how has House Bill 2 affected lives in Eastern North Carolina? How have local communities responded to it?

Chris Thomas seeks answers to those questions in this report.

Tourism pays the bills Down East.

Just how vital is it to the economy? Carol Lore, executive director of the Crystal Coast Tourism Authority, explains.

“Tourism is the number 1 industry in the Down East area and generates about $285 million annually with about 3,600 employees directly involved in the industry.”

It’s even bigger in Dare County on the Outer Banks. According to statistics from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the county generates nearly $1 billion dollars from its visitors.

But after House Bill 2 was signed into law in last month, Chris Layton, town manager of Duck, started receiving messages from seasonal visitors.

Many of them weren’t pleasant.

“What we’ve been facing are many, many, many e-mails – posts on social media and other things saying that people are not going to…fulfill their vacation plans to come to the Outer Banks this year.”

House Bill 2 has earned the nickname “Bathroom Bill” for its ban on transgendered persons using restrooms and changing facilities in certain, government owned buildings – including public schools.

The law also removes employment, discriminatory protections for LGBTQ persons and places of “public accommodations” – like restaurants.

The new law also forbids workers and patrons in the state from filing certain discrimination lawsuits – though Gov. Pat McCrory stated in his April 12th executive order that he supports and encourages the General Assembly to restore a that right.

Its effects are felt especially by August Branch of Greenville, who works in the grocery industry and identifies as a trans-masculine, queer person.

Greenville’s city council voted to formally oppose the law at a meeting last week.

“For me, the biggest issue is the discrimination bill and that, essentially, any citizen of North Carolina can lose their job for no reason, can lose their housing for no reason, can lose, essentially, everything, for no reason and can’t even fight back anymore because we no longer have non-discrimination protection.”

The law has raised the ire of advocacy groups, multinational corporations like PayPay, and vacationers – the latter could be especially harmful to local economies.

Carteret County realtor Julia Wax said cancelled vacation reservations have cost her company, Emerald Isle Realty, somewhere between $50,000 and $80,000.

Her employee and fellow realtor, Kathy Perry, spoke on her behalf.

“She said that she’s had several e-mails from guests that are disappointed in North Carolina and…this stance that they’ve chosen to make, and several of these guests have decided…they’re going to choose to vacation elsewhere.

Duck has already felt the effects of the backlash against House Bill 2 after a law enforcement conference scheduled for April 14th was cancelled, due in large part to the District of Columbia’s ban on non-essential travel for government officials after its passing.

“This is one of those instances where…we get caught in the wash of…decisions that aren’t ours to make.”

But, down on the Crystal Coast, Ms. Lore said prospects are just as cheery as ever. Though there have been media reports indicating discontent among would-be vacationers, Ms. Lore maintains the complaint line at her office has been quiet.

“We have had no calls at the visitor’s centers regarding House Bill 2. We’ve had no visitors come in and make any comments or ask about it and we basically sent out a brief questionnaire, week before last to our accommodations industry to see what they were hearing, and basically, the ones that responded – 99 percent said they were receiving no comments and no cancellations.”

Amid the backlash against the law, communities and organizations are countering with demonstrations for the bill. Prayer rallies in support of House Bill 2 were held in across the region, including Greenville, Jacksonville, and Vanceboro, in the weeks following its passing.

Cape Carteret expressed their support for House Bill 2 at a recent commissioners meeting and down east at Indian Beach, the Board of Commissioners came short of giving Governor McCrory their blessing for the law in a letter.

The letter commended Raleigh for their work over the past 3 years and does not specifically mention House Bill 2.

Brian Chadwick is town manager of Indian Beach commented on how seasonal visitors have responded.

“Actually, because of House Bill 2, we have heard, basically, pretty much, 50-50 they’re still coming down or they won’t be coming down. That’s the only way I can say it.”

But, Indian Beach Mayor Stewart Pickett said residents have expressed a much clearer consensus for the new law.

“I’m all for House Bill 2…because I think it’s a moral issue and that is what I hear from my constituency here, even after all this has broken, the support has been 99 percent for us and…us supporting what we did.”

The letter also expressed its appreciation for Sen. Norm Sanderson. He represents Carteret County – as well as Craven and Pamlico counties – in the General Assembly.

He voted for House Bill 2.

“When you give rights to some people, you have to take them away from other people, and so, to me, it was all about what people felt like they were entitled to, as far as their privacy – what they felt like they should expect when they go into any kind of public facility and so, to me, that was the driving force behind it.”

Sen. Sanderson said the laws intentions have been misconstrued. Its purpose isn’t to discriminate, but protect – both the state’s sovereignty and personal safety.

“But to me, it came down to one thing – a safety issue. It came down to, whether or not, that this ordinance that was passed by the City of Charlotte, would be safe for the great majority of people in the State of North Carolina. And I just felt like that it was not.”

Despite the state senator’s conviction, the fledgling law may die before it has a change to take wing. A recent decision by a federal court – which ruled it was a transgendered student’s right to use bathrooms at school that corresponded with his gender identity – may cost North Carolina billions of federal dollars for school funding.

Sen. Sanderson is unhappy with the backlash the state has received and believes people are receiving the wrong impression about North Carolina.

“Well, I’m tremendously disappointed in some of the businesses and the agenda that has been perpetrated, I think, unnecessarily, and unwarranted against the State of North Carolina. And…this is a typical pattern. The same businesses that are trying to penalize North Carolina have done the same thing in the past with other states.”

Skye Thompson, a 15-year-old transgender teen from Winterville, also believes there are too many misunderstandings about the issues surrounding this bill. He wants to clear them up, starting by sitting with Gov. McCrory and explaining his position on the bill’s effects on him and the rest of the LGBTQ community.

He wrote an open letter to the governor, inviting him to have a conversation. He also testified before the General Assembly before House Bill 2 went up for a vote.

“I mean, meeting new people – it’s nice being able to reach out to people and talk like that and speak up for things. But, if I’m honest, I’m doing it for the people who can’t speak up, not for myself.

It’s impossible to know exactly what impact House Bill 2 will have on Eastern North Carolina, especially because the summer traveling season won’t ramp up until next month.

Some say the law will have a dramatic effect on tourism at the coast this year, while others believe it won’t.

As for the law itself, this year’s November election maybe a de facto referendum on it, especially for state offices. But the most important ballots cast will come from out of state. Will vacationers spend their money elsewhere or will they say “yes” to House Bill 2 with every sale made from the Outer Banks to Cape Fear and across North Carolina?

Only time will tell.

While investigating the possible implications of House Bill 2, we spoke to two experts on law and government – Carmine Scarvo, a political science professor at East Carolina University, and Mary Rose Papendera, law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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McCrory budget plan omits tax cuts, offers 3 percent bonus to state workers | The News & Observer

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Apr 252016
 

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By Colin Campbell
April 22, 2016

Gov. Pat McCrory announced Friday that his $22.8 billion budget proposal won’t include the income tax cuts sought by legislative leaders and would give state employees a one-time bonus averaging 3 percent.

McCrory said the full budget plan will be released Wednesday morning as legislators meet to discuss a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins in July. Overall, his budget will include a 2.8 percent increase in spending – a bit more than the 2 percent target Senate leader Phil Berger suggested this week.

The spending increase was a sticking point last year in negotiations between the House and Senate that prompted the longest legislative session in years. Eventually legislators agreed to increase spending by 3.1 percent from the previous year. House leaders haven’t announced a spending target for this year.

The 2.8 percent growth figure, budget director Andrew Heath said, is “modest when you compare it to last year’s budget. We’re going to maintain fiscal integrity.”

While the plan doesn’t include an across-the-board raise for all state employees, it would provide targeted salary increases for hard-to-fill positions such as correctional officers. All employees would be eligible for a one-time bonus that would equate to an average of 3 percent, with a cap of $3,000. Agency directors would determine how the bonuses would be distributed.

State retirees would not receive a cost-of-living pension increase.

McCrory had announced that teachers would also get more pay boosts than some other state employees, with an average salary increase of 5 percent and a 3.5 percent one-time bonus “that will be more heavily weighted toward our veteran teachers,” Heath said. The salary hikes, meanwhile, would be targeted toward early-career teachers with the goal of increasing the average teacher salary to at least $50,000.

McCrory said the approach is similar to how his administration has handled employee pay in past budgets.

“This continues a trend that we have of adjusting to market forces for employees,” he said. “Especially as the economy rebounds now, we’re seeing industry stealing some of our employees.”

Berger said Wednesday that he’d like to see the standard deduction for personal income taxes increased by up to $2,000. The standard deduction is the base amount of income that isn’t taxed unless a taxpayer chooses itemized deductions.

Under that proposal, a married couple filing jointly wouldn’t owe taxes on their first $17,500 in income – up from $15,500. For a single person, the deduction would increase from $7,750 to $8,750.

Asked why that proposal wasn’t in his budget plan, McCrory said that “with the money that we’ve dedicated at this point in time, this is where our priorities are.” His budget plan does not include any tax or fee increases.

In a news release, Berger said the governor’s plan “sets the right tone.”

“The Senate looks forward to reviewing the governor’s plan in greater detail and building on our shared priorities as we work through the appropriations process,” he said.

The State Employees Association of North Carolina blasted McCrory’s pay plan in a news release.

“By proposing a ‘percent of salary bonus’ rather than a flat rate, McCrory rewards the people at the top with large salaries – like himself – rather than the average state worker who has been hardest hit by the lack of meaningful increases over the last decade,” the group wrote. “Clearly, the governor needs to spend less time worrying about bathrooms and more time worrying about the employees who deliver important public services to North Carolina.”

Rep. Grier Martin, a Raleigh Democrat, also said he was disappointed by the pay plan, noting that the state has a revenue surplus.

“I was hopeful we could do more and actually provide a permanent pay increase and a cost-of-living increase for our retirees,” he said.

But UNC system president Margaret Spellings praised the governor’s proposal, pointing to a $3 million allocation to help keep top faculty members.

“Our top budget priority this session is faculty and staff pay, and we are pleased that the governor is proposing to invest in recruiting and retaining top faculty and to recognize the contributions of university employees,” Spellings said in a news release.

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ECU students enjoy Barefoot on the Mall | WITN

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Apr 222016
 

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April 21, 2016
By: Lindsay Oliver

To view video on WITN, click here.

It’s a spring tradition that draws thousands to ECU’s central campus. The university hosted it’s 37th annual Barefoot on the Mall Thursday afternoon.

Students, staff, and faculty had the chance to take a break before exams and try out trampolines, inflatable slides and obstacle courses, among other amusements.

Vendors and representatives representing all walks of campus life were available as well for students to learn more about clubs and activities around campus.

Students say it’s a welcome break at the end of a long academic year.

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ECU winds down semester with 35th “Barefoot on the Mall” celebration | WNCT

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Apr 222016
 

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By Antony Sherrod
April 21, 2016

To view video on WNCT, click here.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As another school year winds down at ECU, students and faculty took a break and had some fun today.

The ECU Student Activities Board hosted its 35th annual “Barefoot on the Mall” event.

Thousands of students and faculty took to the mall surrounding the cupola on campus to enjoy the festivities.

There was plenty to do including inflatables, laser tag, karaoke, and make-your-own tie-dye t-shirts and hand sculptures.BAREF2OOT

Student organizations also lined the sidewalks to connect with fellow classmates.

There’s also a free concert. Headliner Charlie Puth cancelled due to illness, but music artists Eastern Comfort and local band “Gumbo” and Pirates Got Talent winning duo Xavier Brodie and Trey Scarborough are all slated to perform.

Katie Church with SAB Promotions says this event is a great way to unwind before cramming for finals.

“We’re gonna enjoy this last hurrah before finals start and everyone leaves for the summer,” said Church who helped organize the event. “I think it’s just perfect way for students to relax, have fun and enjoy ECU.”

The event concludes with a screening of the classic Pixar film Finding Nemo.

Organizers expect over 5,000 students to attend the event.

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Earth Day captivates kids at ECU | The Daily Reflector

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Apr 222016
 

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Holly West
April 22, 2016

East Carolina University’s Earth Day celebration gave children the opportunity to learn about and interact with living organisms from prehistory through the present day.

Hosted by the East Carolina Biodiversity Initiative and the North Carolina Science Festival, the sixth annual Earth Day Expo brought the Howell Science Complex’s north and south towers to life with exhibits on living organisms, their environments and how scientists study them.

Heather Vance-Chalcraft, outreach director for East Carolina Biodiversity Initiative, said the diversity of the 30 organizations represented at the event was meant to show how broad the field of earth science is.

“We have everything from the low-tech — planting seeds at the greenhouse, we have the fossil museum here — and then we have the more high-tech activities — some of the ECU 3-D facilities, we have our fish evolution facilities people can go in,” she said. “They all are designed to have hands-on activities to get kids excited about science.”

At the Aurora Fossil Museum’s table, children searched for fossils in material created as a result of mining processes at PotashCorp, an international fertilizer company that has a facility in Aurora. Museum Director Cynthia Crane said they were likely to find marine fossils in the material.

“A majority are shells and corals, but also all kinds of sharks teeth, whale bones, a lot of different marine mammals from about 15 to 14 million years ago,” she said.

Among the many technology exhibits was a demonstration of an augmented reality sandbox, a technology that helps students understand topography by projecting a topographical map on a sandbox full of white quartz sand.

Terri Woods, an associate professor in ECU’s Department of Geological Sciences, demonstrated that when people rearrange the sand with their hands to create a mountain, valley or other feature, the map automatically changes to reflect the new topography. It also has a sophisticated water program that allows students to see the effects of water on the landscape.

“If you hold your hand at the right height, it thinks you’re a cloud and it rains, and the water behaves just like real water does,” she said.

The technology was developed by researchers at the University of California at Davis and replicated by many universities around the country. ECU’s John Woods, the technician for the department of geological sciences, created two augmented reality sandboxes for the university that are being used in undergraduate geology courses.

The devices are built upon an existing technology many students probably have in their dorm rooms.

“This is just an Xbox camera they use for games that has been hacked so that what it now does is it measures elevations,” Terri Woods said.

The Earth Day Expo also included tables with information about programs that can be utilized by school children and their parents. The Tar River Reading Council displayed several books about Earth Day and gave families suggestions for books they could read at home.

President Denise Owens said the group talked to parents about the council’s investment in public education. It hosts professional development sessions for teachers in Pitt and Beaufort counties and provides scholarships for its members to attend statewide conferences.

“What our organization does is we work to grow readers, but we also work to grow teachers,” she said. “It’s basically all coming back to impacting student lives.”

While Thursday’s exhibits were geared toward children, Vance-Chalcraft said the East Carolina Biodiversity Initiative also offers programming for adults.

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AIR QUALITY: Code Red, Code Orange conditions expected for some on Friday due to fire | WITN

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Apr 222016
 

witn

April 22, 2016

RALEIGH, NC (WITN) – Air quality experts say to expect Code Red and Code Orange conditions on Friday because of the Whipping Creek fire.

Winds are expected out of the south and southwest, pushing smoke from Hyde to Dare and Currituck counties.

The Division of Air Quality says people with chronic lung ailments and children should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity.

Code Red conditions are expected over inland Dare and Hyde counties, while Code Orange conditions are likely over Outer Banks Dare and Currituck counties.

Winds will turn back to the north Saturday afternoon pushing smoke back over the Pamlico Sound and adjacent communities from late Saturday through Sunday.


Previous Story

The state has issued a Code Red Air Quality Action Day for Tyrrell and mainland Dare Counties, including the cities of Columbia, Gum Neck, Manns Harbor and Stumpy Point. The alert is from 7 a.m. Thursday until 7 a.m. Friday.

Code Red means everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion. People with respiratory or heart conditions could experience more serious health effects.

Smoke Forecast for Thursday and Friday
Wednesday was dominated by winds from the northeast while Thursday, winds will shift to the south at 10 to 15 mph. Smoke will shift across communities north of Hyde County to the Virginia boarder. Communities from Creswell to Columbia and Buffalo City will see increasing smoke Thursday afternoon through Friday. Rain chances remain limited Thursday but will increase late Friday and into Saturday morning. Cities to the south and west of the fire will see much improved conditions on Thursday and Friday.


Previous Story

State air quality officials expect Code Red and Code Orange air pollution alerts to be issued for large areas of Eastern Carolina because of the Whipping Creek fire.

An air pollution advisory continued into the early hours of Thursday. The state says residents from Elizabeth City to Washington, New Bern and Havelock could experience unhealthy air, depending on wind directions. The alert was scheduled to expire at 7 a.m. Thursday.

The forest fire has grown to more than 9,600 acres in Hyde and Dare counties.

Forecasters have predicted Code Red or unhealthy air quality in Dare, Tyrell and Hyde counties.

In addition, residents could experience Code Orange conditions, or unhealthy for sensitive groups, in all or portions of the following counties: Beaufort, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Jones, Martin, Perquimans, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pitt, Tyrrell and Washington.

People who are sensitive to air pollution should avoid or reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. Those people include the elderly, children and people with heart conditions and respiratory problems.

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ECU professor calls attention to mental health challenges for military personnel, families | WNCT

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Apr 222016
 

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By Antony Sherrod
April 21, 2016

To view video on WNCT, click here.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A local doctor and ECU professor is calling attention to the mental health challenges military personnel and their families face.

Dr. Mark Stebnicki spoke on the subject at the Eastern Region Adult Services Conference Thursday in Greenville.

Stebnicki talked with health professionals about techniques for treating the mental health of active and retired soldiers and their loved ones.VET HEALTH

He said there is a lot of stigma in the military with mental health issues but it’s important to not be ashamed to seek help, “Counselors can help family members understand and try to normalize some of the feelings they’re having in order to build resiliency and coping.”

Dr. Stebnicki created the Military Trauma Counseling Certificate program at ECU as well as the Certified Clinical Military Counselor program offered through the Licensed Professional Counseling Association of North Carolina.

North Carolina is home to the third-largest military population in the country.

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University not releasing footage of black man’s beating | The Associated Press

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Apr 222016
 

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By Associated Press
April 21, 2016

GREENVILLE, N.C. — The chancellor of a North Carolina university says the school hasn’t released surveillance video of an on-campus beating of a black man by four white people last month because of an ongoing criminal investigation.

East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard said Wednesday that Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb has subpoenaed all copies of the tape of the beating of 26-year-old Patrick Myrick, according to news outlets.

“The Pitt County district attorney has instructed East Carolina that the video is not to be released because it is part of a criminal investigation,” Ballard added in a statement to the outlets.

Greenville police said Myrick was attacked March 17 after he hit a woman in the face and she fell to the ground. Several people ran to Myrick and began beating him, then chased him and beat him again, according to authorities.

Myrick suffered serious injuries and had to be taken to the hospital, police said.

Police said earlier this week that the FBI is reviewing the case due to racial overtones.

University officials had previously said they would release the footage. But Ballard’s statement said the university would release the tape when Robb authorizes that.

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WCU chancellor diagnosed with brain tumor | Citizen-Times

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Apr 222016
 

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Julie Ball
April 21, 2016

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher notified the campus community Thursday that he has been diagnosed with a small brain tumor.

The tumor is affecting Belcher’s speech and expression, according to an email that went out to the campus Thursday.

“The resulting condition is called expressive aphasia. At this point, I do not have many specifics to share; however, I am optimistic and in the process of engaging with medical specialists to learn more,” Belcher wrote in the email to faculty, staff and students. “I felt it important that you hear this news immediately and directly from me. I know that you care deeply for our university and I also know that you care for me personally. I am sure that this news will prompt many questions, many of which I cannot currently answer.”

Belcher said in the email that he and the university’s executive council have a plan in place “to ensure that we continue to move the university forward.”

“Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar will be my primary representative when I am unavailable. That said, I am fully committed as chancellor of Western Carolina University and will fulfill my executive responsibilities even when I am not on campus. That has not changed,” Belcher wrote.

The email went out around 10:30 a.m.

The WCU campus was “totally shocked” by the news, psychology professor David McCord said.

“He (Belcher) is very, very well liked on a personal as well as a professional level,” McCord said.

Bill Studenc, a spokesman for Western Carolina, said he didn’t have any additional details about Belcher’s condition or treatment.

Belcher was hired in 2011 to replace John Bardo.

A native of Barnwell, S.C., Belcher had been serving as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock before coming to WCU.

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Campaign aims to get more black students into medical professions | WRAL

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Apr 222016
 

wral

April 21, 2016

To view news video on WRAL, click here.

A new national campaign is aimed at bringing diversity to the medical profession.

African-Americans make up close to 13 percent of the U.S. population but they only represent 3 percent of all practicing physicians.

The national awareness campaign, called Black Men in White Coats, highlights the work of African-American physicians.

Dr. Cedric Bright, assistant dean of the University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine, said there ought to be more black doctors.

“In 1920, we had more African-American physicians per capita than we do now,” said Bright.

Bright and UNC pediatric surgeon Dr. Sean McLean are both featured in the video campaign, promoted nationally and internationally through social media and the State Board of Education.

“Hopefully, in the near future, we’ll get the videos out to all the public and charter schools throughout the state,” McLean said.

They said a major barrier to young black students pursuing a career in medicine is that too few people place that possibility in front of them.

“It’s not for lack of aptitude, it’s a lack of opportunity,” Bright said.

Bright and McLean said diversity in medicine improves care.

“It’s not just about color, not just about ethnicity. It’s about background, it’s about experiences,” said Bright.

“They do bring different perspectives to their treatment of patients and to the conversation overall,” said McLean.

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UNC to outsource its bookstore to Barnes & Noble | The News & Observer

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Apr 222016
 

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By Jane Stancill
April 21, 2016

CHAPEL HILL

UNC-Chapel Hill will outsource its 100-year-old bookstore to Barnes & Noble in a $30-million, 10-year deal announced Thursday.

Employees, faculty and students had argued vigorously against turning the UNC Student Stores over to private management, but university officials said Thursday that the deal will quadruple the earnings that go to student scholarships.

The university will continue to operate a print shop and a newly opened pharmacy, but Barnes & Noble College Booksellers will manage everything else starting July 1. Forty-eight full-time store workers will still be employed at their current salary, either by Barnes & Noble or by the university, UNC said in its announcement.

Employees who are within 18 months of a five-year benefit threshold or within three years of the 30-year mark will stay on the university payroll until they reach vesting or retirement. The 31 who move to the Barnes & Noble payroll will be guaranteed a job for three years, the university said.

“Protecting our employees and making sure they were treated fairly was at the highest concern for the university in going through this process,” said Brad Ives, associate vice chancellor for campus enterprises. “The three-year employment guarantee is fairly unusual for a college bookstore transfer like this.”

The store will also continue to hire students as part-time employees, Ives said.

Employees were told Thursday as the announcement went out to media. The reaction, Ives said, was “what you would expect. No one likes to be told that there’s change in their job.”

Critics said the privatization move was unnecessary and risked the hometown vibe of the store and the future of its employees, many of whom have worked at the store for decades. Faculty didn’t want to lose the personal service they receive in ordering textbooks, and they worried about higher book prices for students.

Protests were staged in front of the store. A “Save Student Stores” campaign gained attention on social media. On Tuesday, the group tweeted, “Student Stores does it better than Xerox and they can do it better than Follett, B&N, or Amazon. #StudentStoresDoesItBetter #NoOutsourcing.”

UNC said Barnes & Noble forecasts an annual payment to the university of more than $3 million and will guarantee that amount for the first two years. After debt service and other expenses, the store will net $1.75 million to $2 million annually for need-based scholarships. The contract includes a $1 million signing bonus that will go to scholarships.

The current store was not losing money. It is entirely self-supporting and has generated more than $27 million in student scholarships in the past 60 years, including $400,000 last year.

“For that we are enormously grateful, and to the staff who have also hired our students,” said Shirley Ort, associate provost and director of scholarships and student aid. “But this plan for Student Stores will create millions of additional dollars in need-based scholarship funds for talented and deserving students – supplemental sources that we greatly need.”

Ort served on an advisory committee that unanimously recommended Barnes & Noble. Another large company, Follett, had previously been considered a front-runner; it had launched the privatization talk last year when it sent an unsolicited offer to UNC.

Six companies bid on some or all aspects of the bookstore’s management, as well as current store employees, who submitted a five-year plan to revamp the store and boost profits.

The News & Observer requested the bids, which are public records, on Feb. 24. The university released the bids Thursday, about 20 minutes before the outsourcing announcement was made.

Ives said the final deal with Barnes & Noble was significantly better than the company’s initial bid.

According to an email obtained by The News & Observer, UNC also had discussed the option of using Amazon as a virtual textbook provider. Ives wrote in the email that Amazon broke off the talks because of House Bill 2, the new law that limits legal protections for LGBT individuals.

Ives said he could not comment on that Thursday but did confirm that Amazon was a bidder in the process.

Some had feared that the Bull’s Head Bookshop would disappear with privatization, but the Barnes & Noble deal provides for expansion of the shop. It will move to a larger space on the store’s third floor, with a fireplace and comfortable chairs for author events. The Bull’s Head will keep its name, as will the UNC Student Stores itself.

Barnes & Noble operates bookstores at nearly 750 U.S. colleges, including 25 in North Carolina. Among those are four Barnes & Noble bookstores on public campuses – N.C. A&T State, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro and UNC Wilmington.

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What to look for when UNC’s new notice of allegations becomes public | The News & Observer

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Apr 222016
 

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By Dan Kane
April 21, 2016

It has been close to a year since the NCAA released its first notice of allegations in the University of North Carolina’s fake class scandal. A lot has happened since then – additional misconduct claims, more information about a key allegation in the notice, and a tournament run by the men’s basketball team that was dashed in the final seconds by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

NCAA officials say a new notice is close to being released. Here are some key things to look for when it becomes public:

Q: Will it contain the additional allegations brought forward by UNC?

A: UNC stopped the clock on the NCAA’s infractions process in August when it said it found new issues involving Jan Boxill and the men’s soccer team. UNC said the allegations involving Boxill, a former faculty leader and academic counselor to women’s basketball players, involve more instances of improper academic help. That could mean more evidence bolstering an alleged unethical conduct infraction against Boxill, as well as the lack of institutional control and impermissible benefits infractions the university faces. The issues with men’s soccer appeared to involve improper recruiting, which had little apparent connection to the fake class scandal.
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Q: Will it contain something entirely new?

A: The lengthy delay could mean the NCAA has come across something that wasn’t previously known. During the delay, UNC has released several hundred thousand pages of records that had been provided to Kenneth Wainstein for his investigation. Those documents might lead to more exhibits shoring up the NCAA’s case, or additional allegations against the university and individuals involved in the scandal.

Q: Will the NCAA again choose not to pursue academic misconduct infractions?

A: The first notice charged UNC with giving athletes across many sports, particularly football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball “special access” to “anomalous” courses. In other words, the NCAA made it an “impermissible benefits” case in which athletes received benefits not generally available to the entire student body. Since then, the agency that accredits UNC has described the courses as fraudulent, saying UNC violated “academic integrity” standards. The NCAA has said it’s the school’s call as to whether academic misconduct occurred, which infers that UNC has declined to do that. But an academic fraud determination by UNC’s accrediting agency might pave the way for the NCAA to make this an academic misconduct case.

Q: Will others be accused of infractions?

A: The first notice only identified Boxill, former African studies department chairman Julius Nyang’oro and his former office manager Deborah Crowder as guilty parties. In the case of Crowder and Nyang’oro, the charge related to their noncooperation with the NCAA’s investigation. Wainstein’s report identified several other individuals who were culpable in the scandal, most of them in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes. It’s unclear why the NCAA didn’t cite them for unethical conduct.

Q: Will the NCAA again accept UNC’s position as to when it created a limit on independent studies?

A: Last month, the News & Observer reported UNC had little evidence to show the 12-hour limit on independent studies students could take were first placed in 2006. If those limits had been in place for many years earlier, as other evidence shows, the number of athletes who exceeded them through fake classes – and therefore received an impermissible benefit – appears to jump from 10 to 150, according to an NCAA evaluation of athlete transcripts.

Q: Will coach Roy Williams’ speculation about the new notice bear out?

A: On the eve of the men’s basketball championship, Williams told ESPN he didn’t think men’s basketball would face any trouble when the new notice is released. “I don’t think we’re going to get hit in any way at all,” Williams said. “Hard to penalize somebody when you have no allegations against them.”

The first notice alleged men’s basketball players received impermissible benefits from the classes. Records indicate they were enrolled in fake classes at the scandal’s outset, and in heavy numbers during the 2004-05 season that ended in a national championship.

Q: Will the new notice reflect enough change to convince some fans the NCAA wasn’t trying to give UNC an opportunity to win a national championship?

A: UNC’s men’s basketball is one of the nation’s marquee programs, and the team came into the season as the favorite to win it all. Fans from other schools speculated the delay was staged to let the team compete for a championship. A new notice that’s insignificantly different from the first is likely to fuel fan concerns that UNC receives special treatment.

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District attorney subpoenas ECU for assault video | The Daily Reflector

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Apr 212016
 

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

By: Sharieka Breeden

The Pitt County District Attorney’s Office has subpoenaed East Carolina University for all copies of the video of a “brutal group beating” that occurred on campus on March 17 and requested that the university not release the footage so as not to hinder prosecution in the case. The incident resulted in five arrests with one more anticipated, as well as the firing Tuesday of an ECU police officer.

A statement issued Wednesday from ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said the surveillance video of the March 17 assault that began outside a downtown Greenville nightclub and continued onto East Carolina’s campus is in the hands of law enforcement. According to the statement, the video remains part of the criminal investigation under the control of District Attorney Kimberly Robb.

“East Carolina intends to release the video just as soon as the university has authorization from the district attorney to do so,” Ballard said.

ECU officials originally said the video would be released upon completion of the investigation but on Tuesday said it will not be released until after the trial of the defendants at Robb’s request.

The incident began as a verbal altercation outside Club 519 on Cotanche Street about 2 a.m. It escalated into a physical confrontation, and 26-year-old Patrick Myrick reportedly struck 23-year-old Amber Best in the face and knocked her to the ground, according to Greenville police.

Several of Best’s friends confronted Myrick and assaulted him outside of the Jimmy John’s restaurant nearby, police said. Myrick ran toward ECU’s West End Dining Hall, but the same individuals reportedly chased him onto campus and assaulted him a second time. Additional people joined in on the assault there.

ECU police responded, and the first officer on scene, Sgt. Ralph Whitehurst, handcuffed Myrick but did not detain any suspects on scene or interview witnesses, according to ECU Police Chief Gerald Lewis.

Lewis said Whitehurst was provided with a notice of dismissal on Tuesday. He had been on leave since March 21, pending an internal investigation that Lewis said Tuesday had been completed. Whitehurst had been with the department since 2004.

Whitehurst’s response to the incident did not follow proper protocol and procedures, Lewis said. Information about what Whitehurst knew about the incident prior to responding, including if he knew Myrick was a suspect in the downtown incident, still is under review, he said. Lewis said it remains unclear why Whitehurst handcuffed Myrick.

Officials have declined to give specific details of what the downtown and campus surveillance videos captured of the incident.

Robb said on Wednesday during a phone interview that the defendants’ due process outweighs the public’s need to see the video.

“While I understand the public’s concern, I am balancing it with the victim’s rights and the defendants’ due process,” Robb said. “My overriding concern has got to be the successful prosecution of the cases. I think that once something becomes evidence I have a duty to protect that evidence until each of the defendants’ cases is disposed of.”

Robb said it always has been her policy to request that no evidence be released in pending cases to help ensure that defendants get a fair trial and to avoid issues with jury selection. The policy is one that Robb said should be applied to every case.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and we’ve had a lot of assault cases like this come through the system,” Robb said. “I don’t think it should be treated differently than any other cases we’ve handled on campus.”

Robb said her office plans to meet with Myrick to hear his concerns.

There is no way to estimate how long the overall process can take, she said, but once the cases against all defendants are resolved, the Greenville and ECU police departments can release the video.

Information about the incident first was released on March 24, a week after the assault occurred. Late that morning, Greenville police issued a news release about three arrests in connection with the assault. A statement from ECU followed, and the university held a news conference.

As to why ECU did not notify students or the public about the incident for a week, university officials said Wednesday that it was determined there was no further threat to the campus community and releasing the information immediately may have hindered the Greenville Police Department’s ability to identify and arrest suspects in its criminal investigation.

“We immediately communicated with our campus and the community about our officer’s actions when Greenville police arrested the first three suspects,” spokeswoman Jeannine Manning Hutson said in an email Wednesday. “The officer was placed on investigatory leave and was not working as an officer on campus in the days following the assault.”

Theresa Marie Lee, 25, Mack Humbles, 26, and Mark Privette, 33, all were charged on March 24 with two counts of felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury. Jesse Clay Wilbourn, 22, and Chase Montanye, 19, are charged with one count of felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury. Wilbourn turned himself in on April 1, and Montanye turned himself in on April 5.

Lee and Wilbourn, ECU students at the time, were dismissed from the university for their alleged roles in the beating.

The police department said Tuesday it has obtained warrants for 22-year-old Christopher James Hill, charging him with one count of bodily injury in connection with the portion of the assault that occurred on ECU’s campus. It is expected he will turn himself in upon release from a medical facility early next month.

According to warrants, the group allegedly repeatedly kicked Myrick in the head, resulting in a broken nose, petechiae in the right eye, both eyes swollen shut and swollen and cut lips. Myrick is charged with misdemeanor assault on a female in connection to the incident outside Club 519.

A police department case report indicates that Myrick reportedly assaulted Best between 2:15 and 2:21 a.m. on March 17. The incident was reported by Best at 2:21 a.m. on March 17. Greenville Police Department spokeswoman Christine Clift said on Wednesday there is no way to know how many officers were downtown the morning of the assault when it occurred or how they were occupied at the time.

Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman said on Tuesday that the agency requested the Federal Bureau of Investigation review the case to determine if any racial overtones were present and if federal charges are warranted. All of the suspects are white, as is the ECU officer who first responded. The victim is black. The Greenville Police Department has said it has no evidence of race as a factor in the assault.

Pitt County Alcoholic Beverage Control agents also have agreed to review the case and investigate whether there were any ABC violations on the part of Club 519, the location of the initial altercation and the employer of two of the suspects, Lee and Privette.

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ECU leader says district attorney took control of tapes |The News and Observer

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Apr 212016
 

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Staff reports
Thursday, April 21, 2016

East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard says the Pitt County district attorney’s office has possession of a surveillance video showing the March 17 beating of a man on campus.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Ballard said he wanted to clarify why ECU did not release the footage of a group beating of Patrick Myrick, 26, of Greenville, after a downtown altercation last month. The case is now being reviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation due to racial overtones, police said this week. Six people are accused in the assault and an ECU police officer was fired for his response, in which Myrick was handcuffed.

Myrick also was charged with hitting a woman prior to the beating. Myrick is black; the beating suspects and officer are white.

ECU officials previously said they would release surveillance video, but this week said that would be delayed following actions by Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb.

“The Pitt County district attorney has instructed East Carolina that the video is not to be released because it is part of a criminal investigation,” Ballard’s statement said. “The district attorney has issued a subpoena to ECU for the video and any copies, and it remains part of the criminal investigation under the control of the district attorney.”

An attorney for The News & Observer and the N.C. Press Association has questioned the decision by ECU and the Greenville Police Department to withhold the tape.

Ballard said the university would release the tape as soon as it has authorization from Robb to do so.

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Storm the Stadium: Challenge supports veterans’ services — The Daily Reflector

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Apr 212016
 

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Published: April 21, 2016

Storm the Stadium: Challenge supports veterans’ services

By Holly West

Patriotic Pirates will have a chance to show their support for student veterans and challenge themselves during Student Veteran Services’ inaugural Storm the Stadium challenge this Saturday.

At the event, which lasts from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., participants will run up and down the stairs in the lower level of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Nicole Jablonski, assistant director of Student Veteran Services, said participants will engage in personal challenges, not a race.

“We don’t want people rushing through the section. The stairways are kind of narrow, so we want people to be safe,” she said. “If a person wants to do half the stadium, that’s great, if a person wants to do it three times in the hours we’re holding it, that’s great, too.”

In addition to the stadium run for adults, there will be a Fun Run with Peedee for children. With each parent registration, up to three children can participate for free. Children whose parents who are not running can participate for a donation of any amount.

The money raised will go toward scholarships and special programs for student veterans.

Junior nursing student Oliver Anderson, a former Marine and president of the Pirate Veteran Organization, said that while the GI Bill provides substantial support for veterans, it often does not cover all of a student’s expenses.

“Depending on certain circumstances, they might not have the full extent of the benefits and depending on the semester they use their benefits, you don’t get full housing and additional costs,” he said.

Since student veterans tend to be older than traditional students, many of them have families or need to work, meaning they can’t attend school full-time.

“People I know using it do at some point run out because they don’t anticipate how long it’s going to take,” Anderson said. “In theory it’s supposed to carry you through your whole degree. With me for example, I’m going to have to space out my courses so I’m going to have to go an extra year.”

Some veterans get scholarships through their individual branches or outside organizations, but Jablonski said ECU doesn’t currently offer its own scholarships exclusively for veterans. That will change after this weekend’s fundraiser.

Registration for Storm the Stadium is $35 for individuals or $110 for a team of five. To register, visit www.goo.gl/m3edj3. People can also register on the morning of the event at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Jablonski said people are welcome to come out and cheer on participants for free.

Contact Holly West at hwest@reflector.com or 252-329-9585.

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Margaret Spellings’ campus tour takes in technology at NCSU — The News & Observer

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Apr 212016
 

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Published: April 21, 2016

Margaret Spellings’ campus tour takes in technology at NCSU

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BYU Students Protest ‘Honor Code’ Charges for Rape Victim — TIME magazine

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Apr 212016
 

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Published: April 20, 2016

BYU Students Protest ‘Honor Code’ Charges for Rape Victim

BYU Students Protest ‘Honor Code’ Charges for Rape Victim

By Daniel White @danielatlarge

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Warrants out for sixth suspect in ECU assault; officer dismissed | The Daily Reflector

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Warrants out for sixth suspect in ECU assault; officer dismissed | The Daily Reflector
Apr 202016
 

reflector1

Sharieka Breeden
April 19, 2016

Greenville Police Department has obtained warrants for a sixth person in a “brutal group beating” that occurred March 17 on East Carolina University’s campus, and the university on Tuesday dismissed the initial officer who responded to the incident and handcuffed the victim.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is expected to review the case to determine if the attack had racial overtones and if federal charges are warranted. All of the suspects and the ECU officer who has been dismissed are white. The victim is black. Greenville police said they do not have information that race played a role, but the possibility cannot be overlooked in this case.

Detectives identified 22-year-old Christopher James Hill of Greenville as being the final suspect involved in the case, Police Chief Mark Holtzman said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. Hill is facing one count of assault inflicting serious bodily injury in connection to the portion of the assault that occurred on ECU’s campus.

Holtzman said Hill currently is at an out-of-state medical facility and is not considered a flight risk. Detectives have been in contact with his attorney, who has advised Hill will turn himself in to Greenville authorities upon his release from the medical facility, which Holtzman said is expected in early May. Hill is at the facility for treatment unrelated to the case, according to officials.

ECU Police Sgt. Ralph Whitehurst, the initial responding officer, was provided notice of dismissal on Tuesday. He has been on administrative leave since last month.

Whitehurst’s response to the incident, which included the handcuffing of 26-year-old Patrick Myrick, the victim of the assault on campus, did not follow proper protocol and procedures, ECU Police Chief Gerald Lewis said at the news conference.

”ECU officers did not use violence in their response, but the internal investigation indicates the protocol followed by the initial responding officer violated multiple police policies,” Lewis said. Suspects who were on scene when officers arrived were not detained, and witnesses were not interviewed.

Lewis said the internal investigation of Whitehurst has been completed. Whitehurst’s LinkedIn page indicates he had been with the department since April 2004.

A preliminary investigation by Greenville police indicated that a verbal altercation that took place about 2 a.m. outside of Club 519 on Cotanche Street escalated into a physical confrontation, and Myrick reportedly struck 23-year-old Amber Best in the face and knocked her to the ground.

Several of Best’s friends confronted Myrick and assaulted him outside of the Jimmy John’s restaurant nearby, police said. Myrick ran toward ECU’s West End Dining Hall, but the same individuals reportedly chased him onto campus and assaulted him a second time. Additional people joined in on the assault.

Five people, including a man and woman who were ECU students at the time of the assault, have been arrested in the case.

Theresa Marie Lee, 25, Mack Humbles, 26, and Mark Privette, 33, all were charged on March 24 with two counts of felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury. Jesse Clay Wilbourn, 22, and Chase Montanye, 19, are charged with one count of felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury. Wilbourn turned himself in on April 1, and Montanye turned himself in on April 5.

Lee and Wilbourn, ECU students at the time, were dismissed from the university for their alleged roles in the beating.

Montanye reportedly is an acquaintance of some of the people involved in the assault. Police said Wilbourn was not known to Privette, Humbles and Lee prior to the assault.

According to warrants, the group allegedly repeatedly kicked Myrick in the head, resulting in a broken nose, petechiae in the right eye, both eyes swollen shut and swollen and cut lips. Myrick is charged with misdemeanor assault on a female in connection to the incident outside Club 519.

“We have a great camera surveillance system at our university and an alert dispatcher actually looked at the camera footage and saw the assault ongoing,” Lewis said Tuesday. “She was the one that actually dispatched officers to that assault at that time. … The dispatcher did a fantastic job in relaying information. She painted a great picture of what was going on based on what she was seeing in the video footage.”

Lewis said the department still is reviewing what information the officers received about the incident prior to responding. The initial investigation revealed that Whitehurst did not gather the required information, canvass or retain any witnesses or other people who potentially were involved in the assault. Whitehurst also reportedly did not gather information from Myrick, who was severely injured in the beating.

Since the incident, ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said the university has doubled efforts and recommitted itself to work toward preventing similar incidents. Ballard said on Tuesday the university has zero tolerance for the actions of those involved in the incident. Ballard said about a third of the ECU Police Department staff is black, and he is proud of the agency’s progress.

“Our values are strong at ECU,” Ballard said. “This incident was a rogue incident that does not reflect who we are as a campus. We value respect and value tolerance. We believe we are all Pirates at ECU, so we are not going to let this define us. It’s not the kind of university we are.”

During the news conference, Ballard said he has watched the video of the assault and has some concerns about what he saw on the footage from bystanders.

“I am concerned that bystanders didn’t do as much as they could’ve maybe to intervene in that incident, but that will all be determined as we go through the next several weeks,” Ballard said.

ECU officials originally said the video of the assault would be released at the completion of the investigation, but Greenville police said Tuesday it will not be released until after the trial of the defendants at the request of District Attorney Kimberly Robb.

Holtzman said the Greenville Police Department asked ECU to withhold the video and both agencies are following Robb’s request to hold off on releasing the video.

“It’s very difficult to prosecute a case once everybody has seen all the evidence as recently played out in our local court systems as well when video gets out,” Holtzman said. “I believe in that approach. I support that approach. I think it will give us a faster, more swift and more certain prosecution in the case if she has the ability to release that video through the court system and at the time of trial.”

Local NAACP President Calvin Henderson on Tuesday attended the news conference and said he is very concerned about the video and about the incident being ruled out by the department as a hate crime.

Holtzman has requested the FBI review the case. The department contacted the FBI about two weeks ago and asked the agency to review the incident for any type of federal charges that may apply.

Pitt County Alcoholic Beverage Control agents also have agreed to review the case and investigate whether there were any ABC violations on the part of Club 519, the location of the initial altercation and the employer of two of the suspects, Lee and Privette.

“There was a lot of concern in the community about a racial overtone in this investigation,” Holtzman said. “To show some oversight and an impartial look of the entire case. I think it was warranted in this case to ask for some outside support.”

Contact Sharieka Breeden at 252-329-9567 and sbreeden@reflector.com. Follow her on Twitter@ShariekaB.

Timeline of March 17 assaults

2:22 a.m.: Greenville Police Dispatchers receive call about assault in-progress outside of Club 519. The caller advises there is a male on the ground and several people are kicking him.

2:25 a.m.: As officers are en route, a second call comes into dispatch. The second caller advises a male did something to a female and several people were assaulting him on Cotanche Street.

2:25 a.m.: Within three minutes of the initial call, the first GPD officer arrives on scene.

2:26 a.m.: Second GPD officer arrives on scene. The officers are unable to locate a fight. They begin to interview witnesses at Club 519.

2:27 a.m.: ECU PD advises GPD dispatch that they are responding to a fight near the West End Dining Hall on ECU property

2:27 a.m.: Greenville-Fire Rescue is called to respond to ECU Campus.

2:30 a.m.: Greenville-Fire Rescue arrives at West End of ECU campus. Myrick is treated at the scene. GPD Officers arrive on campus several minutes later.

2:51 a.m.: At the request of Greenville Fire-Rescue, a GPD officer rides in the ambulance with Patrick Myrick. The GPD officer advises Myrick he is not under arrest. Other GPD officers remain on scene to gather more information and conduct interviews.

4:30 a.m.: GPD clears the scene. They are advised by ECU PD officers that campus surveillance video would be reviewed and provided to Greenville Police.

March 18

ECU Police Chief Gerald Lewis reviews surveillance video from ECU’s campus of the assault on Myrick and requests GPD’s assistance in the criminal investigation. A copy of the video is provided to GPD and a GPD detective is assigned to the case that afternoon. GPD assumes the entire criminal investigation at this point.

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ECU fires officer, Greenville police call in FBI over assault case | The News & Observer

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on ECU fires officer, Greenville police call in FBI over assault case | The News & Observer
Apr 202016
 

newsobserver4

By Jane Stancill
April 19, 2016

GREENVILLE

East Carolina University has fired a campus police officer over his response to the group beating of a black man on campus last month, and the Greenville police have asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to review the case for possible hate crime charges.

University officials said the officer, Ralph Whitehurst, was given notice of his dismissal Tuesday for violating “multiple police policies,” according to ECU Police Chief Gerald Lewis. Whitehurst, who is white, was not accused of using force in the March 17 incident, but he handcuffed the victim and did not follow protocols and procedures in investigating the crime, Lewis said. Whitehurst, a sergeant, had been at ECU for 12 years.

“Our responsibility as police officers is to help and provide aid, and that did not happen in this instance in a way that was appropriate for someone who had been badly assaulted,” Lewis said. “This is not acceptable. This response does not represent what we expect of our officers, nor is it representative of our reputation in the community.”

The man who was beaten, Patrick Myrick, 26, also has been charged with assault on a female. He is accused of hitting a woman named Amber Best, 23, and knocking her to the ground in what began as a verbal altercation outside a downtown Greenville bar.

Several people then assaulted Myrick in front of a sandwich shop, then chased him a short distance to ECU’s campus, where what ECU officials described as a “brutal group beating” continued. Best had visible injuries to her face but was not transported to a hospital, police said.

At a joint news conference Tuesday with ECU officials, Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman said the FBI was called in for oversight and an impartial look because of “a lot of concern in the community about a racial overtone” in the case.

“I think it was warranted in this case to ask for some outside support,” Holtzman said.

He said his department had found no evidence of “ethnic intimidation” under state law, but the FBI will look at whether federal charges could be brought.

The beating was captured on surveillance tape both downtown and on campus, but officials with Greenville police and ECU refused Tuesday to release the footage to The News & Observer. They cited concerns from Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb about successful prosecution in the case.

Holtzman said the video is a key record and piece of evidence. Robb asked the police department and ECU to withhold it from the public until after the judicial process is complete, Holtzman said.

“I believe in that approach,” he said. “I support that approach.”

Amanda Martin, attorney for The News & Observer and the N.C. Press Association, said the law is clear that the use of a record in connection with a criminal investigation has no bearing on its status as a public record. The law also is clear, she said, that the legislature intended the public to have an understanding of what takes place in the events leading up to an arrest.

“I think it would be appropriate for ECU and the Greenville Police to release the video, which would be the best evidence of what really took place,” Martin said. “This obviously is an issue that will garner a lot of public concern and legitimate attention, and it would be better for everyone – the police, the people involved and the public – to release the video rather than having people speculate or gossip about what may have taken place.”

Five people have been charged with assaulting Myrick, who was hospitalized with injuries last month. Greenville police announced Tuesday that a sixth person, Christopher James Hill, 22, of Greenville, is wanted for assault inflicting serious bodily injury. He had not been arrested because he is in a medical facility outside the state, Holtzman said.

Charged with two counts each of assault inflicting serious injury were Theresa Marie Lee, 25; Mack Humbles, 26; and Mark Privette, 33. Jesse Clay Wilbourn, 22, and Chase Montanye, 19, were each charged with one count of assault inflicting serious bodily injury.

Lee and Wilbourn were ECU students at the time but no longer are enrolled, an ECU spokeswoman said.

Lewis, the ECU police chief, said an alert dispatcher saw the assault occurring on surveillance camera footage and sent officers to the scene. The chief said the responding officer did not witness the assault but saw Myrick being held down.

Lewis said the officer didn’t follow procedures and didn’t gather information from the victim or the witnesses.

The university will implement additional training on fair and impartial policing, Lewis said. ECU also will add a position in the police department to review video of officers’ responses.

Steve Ballard, ECU’s chancellor, said the campus generally is a safe environment.

“We have zero tolerance for this,” Ballard said. “We’re going to deal as swiftly and as effectively as we possibly can when there’s any wrongdoing. Two students are no longer enrolled at ECU because of their role in this, and one police officer was dismissed today. …

“Our values are strong at ECU, and this incident was a rogue incident that does not reflect who we are as a campus. We value respect; we value tolerance.”

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Sixth suspect wanted in St. Patrick’s Day group assault; ECU officer fired | WITN

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Sixth suspect wanted in St. Patrick’s Day group assault; ECU officer fired | WITN
Apr 202016
 

witn

April 19, 2016

To view news video on WITN, click here.

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) – Greenville police say they have felony warrants for a sixth person wanted in the St. Patrick’s Day group assault, while an ECU police officer has been fired for his actions.

Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman says Christopher Hill, 22, is currently out of state in a medical facility. The chief said he is the sixth and final person to be charged.

Holtzman says the FBI has been asked to review their investigation because of possible racial overtones in the case. He has asked the feds to see if there are possible charges of ethnic intimidation against the six.

The suspects, and the police officer fired are all white, while the victim is black.

ECU Chief Gerald Lewis says Sgt. Ralph Whitehurst was fired for not following proper procedures in the case. The victim, Patrick Myrick, was handcuffed after the assault, while the chief says the officer did not question the victim as to what happened. Chief Lewis says Whitehurst’s actions were not acceptable.

Whitehurst had worked for ECU police since 2004.

While police say their investigation is complete, they will not release campus security video of the assault. ECU said last month that video would be made public after the investigation was complete. Holtzman says the district attorney has asked them to withhold release of the video because it could hinder their prosecution.

Previous Story

Two police departments say they will update the media on an assault that saw the arrest of five people, including a police officer’s son, and another officer placed on investigatory leave.

The joint news conference with Greenville and ECU police will be at 1:00 p.m.

Patrick Myrick was the victim of a group assault on St. Patrick’s Day that began outside an uptown bar and ended up on ECU’s campus. Myrick himself has been charged with misdemeanor assault on a female.

Police say Myrick hit a woman outside the Club 519, knocking her down. They say that’s when others came to her aid and started attacking the man. Myrick got away, but was caught on campus where the attack continued, according to police. He was taken to Vidant Medical Center with serious injuries.

An ECU police sergeant, Ralph Whitehurst, was suspended after authorities say he handcuffed Myrick, and not those who were eventually arrested. Myrick is black, while the officer and the suspects are all white.

Those arrested in the case were Theresa Lee, 25, Mack Humbles, 26, and Mark Privette, 33, Jesse Wilbourn, 22, and Chase Montanye, 19.

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