The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported Wade Hargrove, the chairman of the board of trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill, said the revelation was "troubling in the extreme."
The newspaper revealed information about the class after receiving university documents through a public information request.
Hargrove said he wants to document how the class was created and how football players knew to enroll days after registration for the class opened. Eighteen members of the team and one former player enrolled in the class, "Blacks in North Carolina," last summer.
Julius Nyang'oro , the former chairman of the African and Afro-American Studies Department, took steps to add the class June 14 of last year, and the football players filled it within four days after it opened for registration June 16, the first day of the summer session.
Nyang'oro was supposed to have taught the class as a lecture but instead made it an independent-study course, and the students wrote a 15-page paper to receive a grade.
University academic support staff for student-athletes helped the football players register for the course and knew how Nyang'oro would handle it, records show.
The News and Observer said Nyang'oro has been under scrutiny for involvement in what the newspaper called "dozens" of classes in which there was "little or no instruction offered to students."
Nyang'oro has not commented, the newspaper said.