Coming Friday: UNC will receive NCAA Committee on Infractions report
Posted October 12
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will receive the NCAA's Committee on Infractions report regarding its academic scandal Friday morning, multiple sources told WRAL News.
With Friday's release, UNC will be one step closer to finalizing an investigation that has gone on for more than five years.
The committee's report will be released at noon, and a conference call will follow at 1 p.m. UNC is expected to respond Friday afternoon.
The ruling comes roughly eight weeks after UNC appeared before the panel in August in Nashville for a two-day hearing. The school faces five top-level charges, including lack of institutional control.
While a ruling could provide resolution, the delay-filled 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 non-athletes 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.
The infractions panel is chaired by Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey and includes former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
When the COI report is released, UNC will have the right to an appeal any potential punishments levied by the NCAA.