North Carolina avoids major sanctions from NCAA in academic fraud case

How will the NCAA punish UNC? Here are the possibilities

The five allegations by the NCAA against UNC include the dreaded "lack of institutional control" for the decades in which, according to the UNC-commissioned Wainstein Report, the Department of African and Afro-American Studies changed grades, registered students for classes that never met and provided improper assistance for thousands of students, about half of them athletes.

North Carolina had a two-day hearing in mid-April in Nashville in front of the NCAA's Committee of Infractions.

The most important aspect of the Committee On Infractions' findings, or lack thereof, is that it was unable to conclude the "fake" classes in question were offered with the intent of enrolling student athletes alone.

In its defense, North Carolina asserted the case was not within the NCAA's jurisdiction and that non-athletes had access to the same courses.

The NCAA actually began investigating the North Carolina football program back in June 2010 for impermissible benefits and academic fraud under former coach Butch Davis.

When a member institution uses "special arrangement" courses to keep a significant number of student-athletes eligible, it is the NCAA's business.

During last year's Final Four, which culminated with North Carolina's seventh national championship in men's basketball, Williams told reporters he didn't expect his team to get sanctioned.

While the classes were open to all students at North Carolina, athletes were often steered their by academic advisers who knew they were easy courses and athletes populated the classes at a higher rate than the general student body. The football program received a one-year postseason ban, lost 15 scholarships over a three-year period and also was forced to vacate 15 wins in March of 2012.

The panel concluded that the former department chair and former secretary did not cooperate with the investigation.

The parties that breached confidentiality, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham for taking a case-related interview and a former secretary and her counsel, both apologized at the hearing. The panel prescribed a five-year show-cause period (Oct. 13, 2017, through October 12, 2022) for the former department chair. Along with Sankey, the members of the panel who reviewed this case are Carol Cartwright, president emeritus at Kent State and Bowling Green; Alberto Gonzales, dean of the law school at Belmont and former attorney general of the United States; Eleanor W. Myers, associate professor of law emerita and former faculty athletics representative at Temple; Joseph D. Novak, former head football coach at Northern Illinois; and Jill Pilgrim, attorney in private practice.

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