Note: I accidentally un-published this piece some time very early this morning which explains why it disappeared. Carry on.
University of North Carolina football student-athletes Greg Little and Robert Quinn are permanently ineligible, according to a decision today by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff. The university declared both student-athletes ineligible for violations of NCAA agent benefits, preferential treatment and ethical conduct rules. According to the facts submitted by the university, the total value of the benefits is approximately $4,952 for Little and $5,642 for Quinn.
Little accepted diamond earrings, as well as travel accommodations for the Bahamas, Washington D.C. and two trips to Miami, among other benefits. Quinn accepted two black diamond watches, a pair of matching earrings and travel accommodations for a trip to Miami, among other benefits.
Based upon information gathered by the institution and the NCAA Agent, Gambling and Amateurism staff during its joint investigation, unethical conduct charges were found against both student-athletes for providing false and misleading information. According to the facts submitted by the university, each student-athlete was not truthful during three separate interviews with university and NCAA enforcement staff members. Further, Little and Quinn only provided more accurate information when presented with evidence that was contrary to their assertions.
In other words, Greg Little and Robert Quinn lied to the investigators and apparently were really bad at it. However, given the egregious nature of the improper benefits the NCAA was going to throw the book at them anyway, the ethical conduct charge made it easier to toss them altogether. UNC actually applied for both Little and Quinn to be reinstated but the NCAA instead ended their eligibility.
In the case of Marvin Austin, it was determined he also violated the same NCAA rules. According to Dick Baddour, Austin took between $10-13,000 in extra benefits. Given the nature of his violations and the fact he was already suspended, UNC dispensed with the reinstatement process and dismissed Austin.
Here is Dick Baddour's statement and he rightly puts the blame where it belongs, squarely on the players themselves:
"It's a sad day when three young men are no longer able to represent their school based on actions they have taken and decisions they have made contrary to NCAA rules. Unfortunately, they made serious mistakes in judgment in accepting extra benefits and then not being truthful with our staff and NCAA representatives. Now they must forfeit the privilege of playing again for the Tar Heels. Although they are responsible for their actions, they are part of our university and our program and we will support them as they move into the next phases of their lives. I know they love to play the game, but I hope they will learn from their mistakes and lead productive and responsible careers."
In his press conference, Baddour said there is no evidence the benefits in question came from John Blake. Baddour also said UNC has a strong compliance but needs to do more. He admits there's"a lot of smoke" around the program but vowed to fight any "institutional control" issues. Good luck with that, champ.
Butch Davis also addressed the media and apologized profusely to everyone with a hint of blue on them. Yes, Smurfs too. Davis vowed to do better, restore confidence, yada, yada, yada. Davis also said players will have to sign out prior to leaving for which I assume will be more effective if players admit they are going to an agent party as their reason for leaving. I think Davis and Baddour need to stop with the "we are going to do better" line. It rings hollow at this point. You have multiple players not just accepting a hotel room or a pair of shoes but rather diamond watches and expensive trips. I am not sure the "we have strong compliance but we need to do better and doggone we are going to fix this" is going to cut it anymore. With this kind of business going on, I think the people who care are going to want to see some blood on the altar.
Unlike Deunta Williams' situation which I thought was more about the NCAA being draconian, there is no excuses to be made for these three. I know people talk about paying players as a way to cure this ill but you cannot reconcile receiving thousands of dollars in elaborate gifts with the notion of providing money for basic needs. This was egregious behavior and monumentally stupid. Like my children often do these compounded one sin with the sin of lying which, in my house, tends to ratchet up the level of discipline they receive. The NCAA looks at it the same way.
In my opinion, the NCAA does have a role when it comes to policing basic amateurism and ensuring recruiting happens on a fairly level playing field. To accept the kinds of gifts these three received is a clear violation and the NCAA is well within their rights to declare them ineligible. In Williams' case he was not intending to break rules. He was visiting a friend and routine items were deemed NCAA violations. Accepting expensive gifts and trips from what we can assume were from agents is completely inappropriate and now they must pay the price. Unfortunately not just them, their teammates as well. As Baddour noted, they made serious mistakes in judgment. Among 18-22 year old adults this happens all the time.
Let me also point out that, again, no one knows anything about this case outside of UNC and the NCAA. The supposed insiders on the message boards who have been preaching "peace and safety" about this whole scandal have once again been proven wholly inaccurate. One rumor out there from August said Little was cleared on the agent angle. Quinn's name was hardly mentioned until UNC pulled him before LSU. What's more, some UNC fans keep holding to the notion that this is all going to blow over with minimal penalty for the program itself. With these revelations bringing the count of players accepting improper benefits to five and the latter three on an egregious level, I do not see how the program escapes harm.
The one silver lining, such as it is, lies in the fact we are moving towards some measure of closure where this season is concerned. Now we know Little, Austin and Quinn will not be back. No word yet on Charles Brown and Michael McAdoo. Hopefully UNC can get those two back to round out the secondary and adds some depth to the defensive line. Given what happened to Jonathan Smith I would not hold out much hope on the players being held in relation to the academic prong of which Ryan Houston is the most important. Given the way Johnny White has played and Shaun Draughn being available that is less of an issue that it was earlier in the season.