Media Wants UNC to Demand COI Hearing Be Public; Blake to Appear

And in today's weather forecast for the Greater Hades area, a chance of snow!

The media consortium that is suing UNC for the release of records regarding the NCAA investigation into the football program has asked the university to demand that Friday's hearing with the NCAA Committee on Infractions be open to the public and to the press:

In a letter to UNC legal representative Leslie Strohm, representatives of WRAL News and other media groups ask that UNC be mindful of the "citizens and taxpayers of North Carolina" when they attend the hearing in Indiana.

The request to UNC calls upon Chancellor Holden Thorp to demand "the proceedings be recorded and transcribed by a certified court reporter" and to refuse the hearing all together if this request is not met...

Because the hearing will take place near the NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis, it is outside of the jurisdiction of North Carolina courts and the North Carolina Open Meetings Law does not apply. As such, the people of North Carolina "have no ready means" of validating the fairness of the hearing, according to attorneys for the media coalition.

Yeah, good luck with that.

This is an obvious grandstanding attempt by the media and their attorneys to goad UNC into some sort of openness they feel is lacking by asking the school to take an indefensible stand. The NCAA does everything in relative secrecy, partly because student records covered under FERPA are discussed, and because they are just the kind of organization who has no intention of showing you how the sausage is made. Besides, UNC does not set NCAA policy and procedure and is not really in a position to challenge it even if they wanted to.

Inside the hearing room, names will be named and situations will be discussed that have been redacted in the documents released thus far. The media knows this, just like they know they have a snowball's chance in you-know-where of having it happen. But it allows them to tout their self-serving role as "champion of the public good" while maybe selling a few papers and driving some web traffic along the way. I also notice they implored UNC to challenge the NCAA, rather than challenging the NCAA to open up the hearing. Why? Because if the NCAA has told the North Carolina Secretary of State's office to pound sand, you know what they're going to say to the media.

In other COI news, it appears that former assistant coach John Blake will also appear at the committee hearing this week (be sure to read this intriguing article from SI's Andy Staples). This is not entirely surprising on two counts. First, the NCAA's case against Blake in regards to steering players to agent Gary Wichard is long on speculation and weak on hard evidence. It is possible Blake may actually attempt to make a case as to why the NCAA's assumption that the money funneled from Wichard was what he said it was, gifts and private school tuition for Blake's child. The other reason to appear is to lessen or prevent the dreaded "show cause" penalty, which essentially curtails another school from hiring Blake. Still it is clear that, as evidenced by the Staples article, Blake and his team are going to put on the full-court press to mitigate the damage from the COI hearing.

On the other hand, the list of those not appearing before the COI will include interim head coach Everett Withers, former head coach Butch Davis, tutor Jennifer Wiley, and new athletic director Bubba Cunningham. There really is no reason for Withers, who was not implicated in any wrongdoing and will not likely be the coach after December 1, nor Cunningham, who will not be on board at UNC for a few more weeks, to appear. Davis was not named in the notice of allegations (unlike Blake) and has absolutely nothing to gain by an appearance before the inquisition. And frankly the NCAA has no sway over Wiley, who didn't talk during the investigation either.

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