NCAA: No Academic Violations at UNC

Toothless NCAA Couldn't Find Academic Violations at North Carolina, Tar Heels Get No Punishment

The NCAA infractions panel could not conclude that North Carolina committed academic violations.

Ultimately, the NCAA found that there were only two violations - two former staff members failed to cooperate during the investigation.

From left, in August 16, 2017, file photos, University of North Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, University of North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham, University of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams, University of North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora and University of North Carolina women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell arrive at an NCAA hearing in Nashville, Tenn. "The panel is troubled by the university's shifting positions about whether academic fraud occurred on its campus".

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. It is on the school itself to determine if academic fraud is happening on their campus.

The panel also did not conclude, based on the record before it, that extra benefits were provided to student-athletes.

"The courses were generally available to the student body, and non-student-athletes took the courses", according to the NCAA report. "Additionally, the record did not establish that the university created and offered the courses as part of a systemic effort to benefit only student-athletes". The school faces five top-level charges, including lack of institutional control, though no coaches are charged with wrongdoing.

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Colleges have set up a system where they require athletes to exchange financial compensation for an education, but in many cases, that education is treated as secondary, much less important than winning games and maintaining eligibility. The courses were misidentified as lecture classes but didn't meet and required a research paper or two for typically high grades.

Former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein released an independent investigation into the scandal, and by his estimate more than half of the 3,100 students that enrolled in those course from 1993-2011 were Tar Heel athletes.

After sanctioning the football program in March 2012 in the original case, the NCAA reopened an investigation in summer 2014, filed charges in May 2015, revised them in April 2016 and again in December.

While the NCAA argued that the courses were geared toward keeping student-athletes eligible, the university countered that the irregular courses were available to all students.

The university had challenged the NCAA's jurisdiction in the matter, saying it was an academic issue. They contend that this is a school issue, one that should be handled by its accreditation agency - they already hit the school with a year of probation. Still, Syracuse and head coach Jim Boeheim were punished significantly, at least by NCAA standards, while North Carolina got off free on a jurisdictional argument.

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