- Robbi Pickeral, College Basketball
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Former North Carolina football/basketball standout Julius Peppers has donated $250,000 to UNC's Light on the Hill Society Scholarship fund, which supports African-American students, the school announced Monday.
The donation comes days after Peppers confirmed that it was his academic transcript that was found on the university's website, showing that numerous classes in the Afro and African-American Studies department helped keep him stay eligible before he left UNC early for the NFL after the 2001 season.
That department has come under intense scrutiny over the last three months since an internal investigation showed poor oversight, grade changes and little or no instruction in 54 AFAM classes between summer 2007 and summer 2011. More than 50 percent of the students in those classes were athletes. The school last week launched a new probe, led by a former governor, which aims to look farther back than 2007.
Peppers, who was an AFAM studies major, said in a statement over the weekend "that there is no academic fraud as it relates to my college transcript" and that he took every course with qualified members of the University faculty, and was never given preferential treatment.
Also in that statement, he thanked UNC's academic and athletic staff for their help and guidance and said he was "thinking of ways that I can use my experiences and resources" to help support students early in their college career.
He opted to do it with a hefty donation.
"After considering the ways that I might be able to help young college students, I decided to continue my support of the Light on the Hill scholarship," Peppers said Monday in a statement released by the school. "I would like to endorse this particular fund and encourage other former UNC students who have found success to reach back and assist the efforts of current and future Tar Heels."
Peppers, an All-Pro who is entering his third season with the Chicago Bears, previously donated $100,000 in 2009 to The Light on the Hill Society Scholarship.
According to the school's news release, the scholarship program is a tribute to Carolina's earliest African-American graduates and a way for alumni and friends to support African-American first-year students who exhibit academic excellence and the potential to contribute while at Carolina and after graduation.
"This gift is indicative of the kind of man Julius Peppers has become," Richard "Stick" Williams, chair of the Light on the Hill Society board, said in a prepared statement. "I am very proud that he credits his experiences at Chapel Hill for helping to shape him. He has really thought deeply about his life, opportunities taken, opportunities lost, his legacy. With this generous gift he wants to help young people make good decisions during their college years."