UNC learns NCAA fate Friday
Posted 5:00 a.m. Friday
Updated 9:39 a.m. Friday
Chapel Hill, N.C. — For the second time in a decade, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will learn Friday how it will pay for violations of NCAA by-laws. At issue are years of so-called "paper classes" and whether those classes unfairly advantaged student-athletes. The NCAA says yes. UNC says no.
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.
Since Kenneth Wainstein read out his findings three years ago this month, UNC and the NCAA have been at odds over the organization's right to Friday's punishment. The fight has included plenty of back and forth and three different Notices of Allegations from the NCAA.
In May, the NCAA sent a response to the university that read, in part:
"When a member institution allows an academic department to provide benefits to student-athletes that are materially different from the general student body, it is the NCAA's business.
When athletics academic counselors exploit 'special arrangement' classes for student-athletes in ways unintended by and contrary to the bylaws, it is the NCAA's business.
When a member institution provides student-athletes an inside track to enroll in unpublicized courses where grades of As and Bs are the norm, it is the NCAA's business.
When a member institution uses 'special arrangement' courses to keep a significant number of student-athletes eligible, it is the NCAA's business.
When a member institution fails or refuses to take action after receiving actual notice of problems involving student-athletes, thereby allowing violations to compound and to continue for years, it is the NCAA's business."
UNC has argued that its own investigation and steps taken to remedy the findings of the resulting Wainstein Report should be enough, and that the NCAA does not have the right to punish the university for a scandal that UNC says was primarily academic and did not provide specific benefits to student-athletes.
“The fundamental issue in our case is if the NCAA bylaws cover athletics matters, not how academics are managed," UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham has said.
"The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts is that the Department of Athletics at the University of Chapel Hill took advantage of 'fake classes' in the department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record," the university wrote in response to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations.
UNC can still decide to appeal through the NCAA process or take the NCAA to court.