UNC, media outlets settle case; Student-athlete interviews to be made public
Posted October 25, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill agreed Thursday to a settlement ending more than two years of lawsuits filed by a coalition of media outlets, including WRAL News.
As a result, UNC-CH must release additional documents tied to the university investigation of alleged improper behavior – both athletic and academic – by members of the Tar Heel football team.
On Sept. 26, Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning said that UNC must release information the university gathered for the NCAA about football players who got money, jewelry and other benefits, including transcripts of interviews with those student-athletes. The media coalition agreed not to publish those interviews verbatim online.
Manning ruled that, while information about a player's academic performance would remain sealed, facts about impermissible benefits that led to a player's being ruled ineligible should be released.
The university must also release records of university investigations into misconduct by any UNC coach, acting agent or booster.
WRAL and its partners also asked for unredacted copies of UNC's entire response to the NCAA Notice of Allegations, which the university prepared in September 2011. It was this response that UNC used to propose the Tar Heels vacate all wins in 2008 and 2009, pay a $50,000 fine, lose nine scholarships over three years and serve a two-year probation period. In March, the NCAA responded with a punishment that included the loss of 15 scholarships over three years, a one-year postseason ban and three years on probation.
UNC will be allowed to redact information related to academic or personnel issues, but must release anything related to "student-athlete impermissible benefits violations resulting in sanctions and ineligibility."
Both the university and the coalition are seeking further guidance on the release of records related to NCAA violations due to impermissible academic benefits as well as information related to student tutors including names, salaries and employment dates.
Should there be no objections to the production of documents by UNC to the requesting media outlets, the university will also pay the coalition’s legal fees in the amount of $45,000.
Over the course of the two and a half year legal proceeding, the court has repeatedly ruled against UNC, forcing the release of parking ticket records, phone records and emails of key figures in the investigation such as former head coach Butch Davis, former assistant coach John Blake, former Director of Athletics Dick Baddour and out-going Chancellor Holden Thorp.
The settlement ends the legal back-and-forth between UNC-CH and the media coalition.