Report: NCAA’s UNC ruling expected today
Case could drag out longer if school decides to appeal.
The NCAA infractions committee panel handling North Carolina’s multiyear academic case plans to release its ruling today, three people with knowledge of the investigation said.
The people said the NCAA notified parties involved in the case Thursday morning. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the school nor the NCAA have commented publicly on the release.
The ruling comes roughly eight weeks after UNC appeared before the infractions panel in August in Nashville, Tennessee, for a twoday hearing that included Chancellor Carol Folt, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham, men’s basketball coach Roy Williams, football coach Larry Fedora and women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell. The school faces five top-level charges, including lack of institutional control.
While a ruling could provide resolution, the delayfilled case could still linger if UNC pursues an appeal or legal action in response to potential penalties that could include fines, probation, postseason bans or vacated wins and championships.
In an email to the AP, NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said the NCAA would send out a media advisory on the morning of an announcement but had “nothing further to share before then.”
UNC spokeswoman Joanne Peters Denny declined to comment in an email, referring questions to the NCAA.
The focus is independent study-style courses in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department on the Chapel Hill campus. The courses were misidentified as lecture classes but didn’t meet and required a research paper or two for typically high grades.
In a 2014 investigation, former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein estimated more than 3,100 students were affected between 1993 and 2011, with athletes across numerous sports making up roughly half the enrollments.
The NCAA has said UNC used those courses to help keep athletes eligible.
The oft-delayed case grew as an offshoot of a 2010 inquiry into the football program, resulting in sanctions in March 2012. The NCAA reopened an investigation in summer 2014, filed charges in May 2015, revised them in April 2016 and again in December.
The NCAA originally treated some of the academic issues as improper benefits by saying athletes received access to the courses and other assistance generally unavailable to non-athletes. The NCAA removed that charge in the second Notice of Allegations (NOA), then revamped and reinserted it into the third NOA.
UNC has challenged the NCAA’s jurisdiction, saying its accreditation agency was the proper authority and that the NCAA was overreaching.