Sources: NCAA to give rul­ing in UNC case to­day

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS -

By Aaron Beard

The NCAA in­frac­tions com­mit­tee panel han­dling North Carolina’s multi-year aca­demic case plans to re­lease its rul­ing Fri­day, 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 two-day 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 toplevel 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 probe of 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 re-in­serted it into the third NOA.

UNC has chal­lenged the NCAA’s ju­ris­dic­tion, say­ing its ac­cred­i­ta­tion agency — which sanc­tioned the school with a year of pro­ba­tion — was the proper author­ity and that the NCAA was over­reach­ing in what should be an aca­demic mat­ter .

The NCAA en­force­ment staff coun­tered in a July fil­ing: “The is­sues at the heart of this case are clearly the NCAA’s busi­ness.”

UNC has ar­gued nonath­letes had ac­cess to the cour­ses and ath­letes didn’t re­ceive spe­cial treat­ment. It also chal­lenged Wain­stein’s es­ti­mate of ath­lete en­roll­ments, say­ing Wain­stein counted ath­letes who were no longer team mem­bers and putting the fig­ure at less than 30 per­cent.

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