It could be weeks before public sees UNC's latest NCAA response
Posted 11:40 a.m. Wednesday
Updated 12:14 p.m. Wednesday
Sanibel, Fla. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's latest response to allegations from the NCAA is "a pretty lengthy response," UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham told reporters Wednesday at the ACC meetings in Florida.
Cunningham was unwilling or unable to offer any detail about the arguments UNC made in that response, only saying that the university would release the document in time.
"It does take a while to redact it and get it into shape," Cunningham said, estimating that it could be 10 days to two weeks before the response is available to the public.
He promised that UNC would follow the now-familiar pattern of posting details on the Carolina Commitment website created to inform the public of the ongoing investigation into years of so-called "paper classes," which offered students, many of them student-athletes, an easy way to a good grade.
Rick White, associate vice chancellor of university communications, said on Tuesday that the redacted release “may take a few days.”
UNC faces five top-level charges, including lack of institutional control, in the long-running probe centered on courses in the then-Department of African and African-American Studies. UNC received a third Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on Dec. 13 in which the wording restored a reference to football and men's basketball players using irregular courses to help maintain eligibility.
The school was due in March to respond to the charges. But the case hit one of its many delays after Raleigh attorney Elliot Abrams wrote the NCAA to say that former AFAM office administrator Deborah Crowder was willing to talk with investigators.
As recently as Thursday, Crowder met with NCAA investigators to tell her side of the story after years of declining to cooperate. One of the charges against UNC involves the lack of cooperation from Crowder as well as former AFAM chair Julius Nyang’oro.
Crowder, who graded many of the papers in the problem classes, also filed an affidavit defending the courses' quality. She said she didn't create courses to provide special assistance for athletes while saying athletes and non-athletes received equal treatment.
In the past, UNC has challenged the NCAA's jurisdiction and has questioned how much information should be used from a 2014 investigation conducted by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein into the problems in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department.
Cunningham declined to say what defenses UNC used in the most recent response, and had no comment about Crowder's change of heart.
"We've followed the protocols, and we will continue to do that," he said. "Everybody wants to get it to completion. Sometimes it takes longer than you hope. It'll get there at some point."
The NCAA has 60 days to reply to UNC. After that, the university would again go before the NCAA Committee on Infractions for a hearing. Any sanctions would come after that hearing.
"The next step is get a reply from NCAA enforcement staff and then hearing, which appears to be in August," Cunningham said.
He noted that UNC would have lessons to share with other ACC teams after the case is closed.
"We have a penalties and infractions committee in the ACC, and that is designed to take missteps that schools have had and help the other schools avoid them," he said.
UNC has shared some information in the past with other ACC schools, Cunningham said, but since the case is ongoing, has not done so since 2013.
"Once the case gets concluded, that's when you share it with the other members," he said.