WENTWORTH, N.C. — Attorneys for The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and athletes who played for the school argued in a state court on Friday whether a lawsuit filed against the school in connection with an academic scandal should be dismissed.
In April, a judge granted the school’s motion to remove the case from federal court, sending it back to a state court. The latest arguments were heard in a Rockingham County courtroom.
Initially, former football player Michael McAdoo filed a class-action lawsuit amid the scandal tied to irregular courses in African-American studies, a department popular with athletes. Former football player Devon Ramsay and ex-women’s basketball player Rashanda McCants filed a separate lawsuit, which was the basis of the arguments presented to Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Eric Morgan in the courtroom in Wentworth.
Lisa Gilford, an attorney from a New York-based law firm representing UNC, said what the plaintiffs are alleging is “educational malpractice,” noting that a previous decision said “they had to go further than ‘my education wasn’t good enough.'” She said the case wasn’t about academic irregularities, but more about the plaintiffs’ claims.
Gilford also reiterated the argument that the lawsuit should be dismissed because a three-year statute of limitations had passed.
Robert F. Orr, the attorney representing Ramsay and McCants, said the idea of a breach of contract is at the heart of his clients’ claim.
“We’re not talking about these classes were easy classes,” Orr said. “These were illegitimate classes . . . We seek to hold the university accountable.”
McCants and Ramsay combined to take three problem AFAM courses while majoring in other departments, according to their lawsuit. In previous arguments, attorneys for McAdoo and McBee said their clients had taken one or two of the irregular courses during each semester in school. McBee graduated with a double major, one coming in the AFAM department, while McAdoo withdrew from school to pursue a professional playing career after being ruled permanently ineligible for academic violations in 2010.
Morgan didn’t indicate when he would issue a decision. Attorneys for both sides said they didn’t expect a ruling Friday.