UNC players, under cloud, won't make trip to Atlanta
Posted September 3, 2010
More than a dozen players from the University of North Carolina football team did not board the bus Friday morning, left behind as their teammates head to Atlanta for the first game of the season.
The university declared six players ineligible for Saturday's game: defensive tackle Marvin Austin, cornerback Charles Brown, cornerback Kendric Burney, wide receiver Greg Little, defensive end Michael McAdoo and defensive end Robert Quinn.
An additional six players won't play while their eligibility is in question. They are: tailback Shaun Draughn, defensive end Linwan Euwell, safety Brian Gupton, tailback Ryan Houston, safety Da’Norris Searcy and safety Jonathan Smith.
The Tar Heels take on LSU in a nationally televised game Saturday at 8 p.m. from the Georgia Dome.
Anticipation of the on-field action has taken a back seat in recent days to speculation about which players would even suit up amid the specter of dueling investigations into alleged inappropriate contact between agents and players and possible academic infractions by team members who worked with a tutor.
A team source said Friday morning that players were sitting in their sweats, waiting to be told whether they'd make the trip or not.
The eligibility of an additional three players was still in question at the time of the team's departure. The three players linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter and safety Deunta Williams did not get on the bus, UNC's director of football communications Kevin Best said.
The university was actively working with the NCAA on their status and planned to make an announcement later when a decision on their status for the game is reached.
The NCAA said any players who are ultimately subject to punishment can count the games they sit out against a total suspension.
Best said the number of players involved, and those whose eligibility is in question, fluctuates constantly.
The NCAA initiated a probe in July to look at whether two players received improper benefits from agents. In the course of those interviews, information about the possible academic violations came to light, and the university has taken the lead on that angle.
The No. 18 Tar Heels looked ready to contend for an Atlantic Coast Conference championship and had locked up a high-profile opener against the No. 21 Tigers this weekend.
But all anyone is talking about is the probe.
Coach Butch Davis suspended defensive tackle Marvin Austin indefinitely on Wednesday for a violation of team rules he said was not connected to the NCAA probe. Austin and receiver Greg Little are the players most closely linked to that investigation.
Davis said the investigations clearly colored his list of who would play.
"If there is any indication that anybody is not going to be allowed to play in the game then they won't travel," Davis said.
Davis said the school likely will not release a depth chart until Saturday as, "it is conceivable we will not know who can play until Saturday afternoon."