UNC proposes vacated wins, fewer scholarships
Posted September 19, 2011
Updated September 20, 2011
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The University of North Carolina released a 111-page response to the NCAA notice of allegations Monday.
In the response, the university self-imposed the following penalties:
- They will vacate all wins from 2008 and 2009.
- They will reduce their scholarships by a total of nine (three each year for three years).
- They will pay a $50,000 fine.
- They will self-impose 2 years probation starting with the date of submission.
"We were very serious in our approach," athletic director Dick Baddour said Monday. "We looked at similar situations at other schools and we thought it was an appropriate response."
In the response, the university says the proposed sanctions should be enough due to their cooperation in the investigation and proactive steps in holding out players from competition and disassociating with verified threats to the program.
“The University believes, by virtue of remarks from the enforcement staff, that its participation fully met, and perhaps exceeded, the expectations embodied in the cooperative principle set forth in NCAA bylaws and practiced by member institutions.”
The total number of vacated wins from the 2008-09 seasons totals 16. They went 8-5 each year and lost in the Mineke Car Care Bowl each season. The proposal would allow their 8-5 2010 season including their Music City Bowl win to stand.
Baddour said they considered implementing a post season ban but based on the charges, the university's cooperation with the investigation and the advice of outside counsel the university did not think it was appropriate.
Further corrective measures include education for players and staff members regarding rules surrounding agents, extra benefits and preferential treatment as well as corrective actions within the student-athlete academic support program.
The NCAA will review the response and the proposed penalties by the university, but can add to the sanctions if they choose. Possible additional penalties could include a bowl ban, television ban and recruiting restrictions.
The university also stated in their response that they will get bi-weekly reports on parking citations, continue to use travel notification forms and implement an updated social media policy.
"The self-imposed sanctions were appropriate given the scope of the infractions and sanctions for similar infractions at other NCAA member schools," UNC Trustee Alston Gardner said Monday.
The university is scheduled to meet with the NCAA committee on infractions in Indianapolis on Oct. 28. Baddour said Monday that the current head coach is required to attend and Everett Withers will be present but he did not know if former head coach Butch Davis would attend.
"I can’t speculate on what the NCAA committee on infractions may or may not do," Baddour said. "We have responded seriously and we think it’s an adequate response."
Davis was fired on July 27. UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said the decision was not related to any change in the NCAA investigation, but that it was the result of the cumulative damage to the university’s reputation over the past year.
Fourteen players missed some or all of the games played in the 2010 season. The NCAA declared two of them, wide receiver Greg Little and defensive end Robert Quinn, permanently ineligible, and UNC kicked a third, defensive tackle Marvin Austin, off the team.
"The University has long been and continues to be committed to full compliance with NCAA regulations," said UNC Board of Trustees chair Wade Hargrove. "Regrettably, mistakes were made, and the goal now is to learn from and not repeat those mistakes. The University is fully committed to a highly competitive football program and to the success of its student athletes--both on and off the field."
The notice of allegations indicated that seven players received $27,097.38 in benefits “from individuals, some of whom trigger NCAA agent legislation.”
The university’s response to that specific allegation state that it is, “substantially correct and that violations of NCAA legislation occurred."
The university became aware of the impermissible benefits when a member of the NCAA Agent, Gambling and Amateurism staff notified them on June 21, 2010. UNC says they “promptly” put together a group that included the director of athletics Dick Baddour to work with the NCAA in gathering documents and information regarding how the school handles agent dealings and pro days. The group reported directly to Thorp regularly.
"The university expressed a strong desire to investigate any potential NCAA violations together with the staff to the extent a joint investigation was possible,” the response states. “The University and the enforcement staff have worked closely together in this investigation since that date.”
In NCAA interviews, players acknowledged that they received travel, meals, cash, jewelry and “entertainment expenses” from multiple agents, financial advisors and former UNC players.
The response says that a “small number” of players lied during their initial questioning, but when given a second chance to come clean, all of them with the exception of one did so. That player is not specifically named in the response.
UNC says that they feel they provided proper education on accepting benefits to their players and that the players themselves knew that their actions were impermissible.
“The University is satisfied that its Compliance Office provided its student-athletes, including those involved in the violations in Allegation No. 4, thorough and appropriate rules education regarding NCAA agent legislation during the relevant time periods,” the response reads. “The University is satisfied that these student-athletes knew that NCAA legislation prohibited them from accepting any benefit from an agent or person affiliated with an agent.”
The response states that prior to the investigation, Chris Hawkins, who is a former player and frequently used the weight facilities, was not considered an agent or any other threat to NCAA violations thus his presence with players was unquestioned. When it was found that he provided extra benefits to three players in July and August, the university disassociated itself with Hawkins.
As part of the internal investigation, the university says it searched the email accounts of 10 identified student athletes and assistant coach John Blake for over 300 terms provided by the enforcement staff.
In the response, the university admits that if they had investigated additionally on some information some of the impermissible benefits provided to at least one player may have been prevented.
Jennifer Wiley, a tutor found to have provided impermissible aid on academic papers, has still refused to speak with the NCAA, according to the response. The university says, however, that they and “enforcement staff conducted more than 60 interviews related at least in part to the receipt of impermissible academic assistance or free academic tutoring.”
UNC learned of the possible improper benefits Wiley provided the players through an anonymous report in April 2010. In multiple interviews, players whose names are redacted, said they were unaware that the assistance they got was impermissible.
Wiley was also found to have provided about $3,500 in “impermissible extra benefits to football student-athletes” including plane tickets and parking fines.
In a statement released by her lawyer Joe Cheshire Monday, Wiley feels she has been inaccurately painted in a negative light.
"Even though there are many things that she (Wiley) can defend and explain about this matter and the allegations that have been made against her and some of the matters mentioned in the report are not completely correct or placed in proper context," the statement reads. "Jennifer is an easy excuse and scapegoat for many people who do not really know her or what she did... her intent was to help not to hinder."
Not part of the NCAA allegations against UNC was a paper submitted by former player Michael McAdoo. A lawsuit filed by McAdoo against the NCAA and UNC outside of the NCAA investigation into the football team revealed that Wiley had formatted a works cited page for him and further cross-referencing revealed that much of the paper had been plagiarized.
UNC says it does not agree with the NCAA allegation that they failed to properly monitor social media and says they do not believe that an NCAA violation occurred due to the use of social media.
"Allegation No. 9 (b) is unprecedented," the response argues. "No NCAA member institution has ever been found to have violated NCAA legislation due to an alleged failure to monitor “social networking
activity” of student-athletes."
The response argues that their monitoring of social media was adequate and in line with the requirements of the NCAA. They say that they make all student-athletes attend a workshop that defines the universities expectations of social media and email use.
UNC athletes are not prohibited from using social media sites, but all coaches are asked to follow or “friend” them on such sites.
Much if the initial information that led to the investigation centered around a tweet from former Tar Heel Marvin Austin. In that message, Austin indicated he was in Miami at Club LIV.
In March of 2011, during a review of Blake’s phone records, UNC discovered recruiting violations when Blake made multiple calls to a recruit in a week where just one was permitted. The university self-imposed a one week no-call punishment at that time that prevented any coaching staff member to contact recruits for that period.
Blake further violated NCAA rules between May 2007 and October 2009 in which the university agrees with the NCAA’s allegation. Blake was found to have deposited $31,000 in payments from Gary Wichard’s sports agency, Pro Tect Management.
In addition to the nine violations alleged by the NCAA, the university self-reported four Level II violations. One violation was the Blake recruiting phone calls. The other three of those violations involved Wiley’s tutoring of additional players whose total value of received benefits was less than $100.
In May, UNC hired a full time addition to their compliance staff. The new position oversees the financial aid aspects of compliance. Also, the compliance staffer in charge of eligibility and certification has been moved to the same building as the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes.
"I believe the response strikes the right balance of acknowledgment, proposed changes and appropriate penalties," said Hannah Gage, UNC Board of Governors Chair.