CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Former North Carolina football star Julius Peppers confirmed it was his academic transcript that was posted on the university's website and insists there was "no academic fraud" with it.
The Chicago Bears' defensive end released a statement through his agent Saturday, nearly a week after a link to the transcript surfaced.
"This week has been an upsetting and challenging week for me, as one of my most private academic documents appeared on the university's website for public examination," Peppers said. "I'm terribly disappointed in the fact that my privacy has been violated, as well as frustrated with whoever negligently and carelessly committed such a flagrant error."
The school never confirmed the authenticity of the transcript, which lists Peppers' name at the top, but has said it is investigating how the document wound up on the website. School officials removed the link and have said they can't discuss confidential student information covered by federal privacy laws.
The link showed Peppers received some of his highest grades in classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM). A school investigation has since found fraud and poor oversight in 54 AFAM classes between summer 2007 and summer 2011, with football players making up more than a third of the enrollments and student-athletes making up 58 percent of the overall enrollments in those suspect classes.
"I can assure everyone that there is no academic fraud as it relates to my college transcript," Peppers said in the statement. "I took every course with qualified members of the UNC faculty and I earned every grade whether it was good or bad.
"I was never given unapproved assistance or preferential treatment in terms of my academic career because I was a student-athlete. I was also never deemed ineligible to compete on any of the football or basketball teams."
Peppers played two seasons for the men's basketball team under Bill Guthridge and Matt Doherty, serving as a reserve on the team that reached the Final Four in 2000. He was the No. 2 pick of the Carolina Panthers in the 2002 NFL draft, spent eight seasons there before signing with the Bears and is a six-time Pro Bowl defensive end.
Nine of the 10 classes in which Peppers earned a B-plus, B or B-minus that could've helped ensure his eligibility came in the AFAM department where he was majoring, according to the transcript. Three were listed as independent study classes, another problem area cited in the school's probe for a lack of supervision of work - often a research paper - performed by students.
The transcript lists a 1.824 GPA, beginning with classes during the summer of 1998 and finishing in the fall of 2001 during Peppers' last year on the football field for the Tar Heels under first-year coach John Bunting. The link lacked grades for five classes in summer and fall 2001 terms.
The transcript could raise the possibility that the AFAM troubles go back much further than the four-year focus of the investigation, though the school's report in May acknowledged the misconduct could reach before 2007.
Chancellor Holden Thorp announced Thursday that former Gov. Jim Martin will lead a newly created panel to address issues stemming from the internal investigation.