UNC Self-Sanctions, Vacates 2008 and 2009 Seasons

North Carolina released their 111-page response (PDF) to the NCAA's notice of allegations today, tough slogging for any Tar Heel fan. Happily, they sum everything up on page six:

The University is embarrassed and disappointed by these violations. It has attempted to respond in an appropriate and timely manner to the issues it confronted, student-athlete eligibility and employment decisions among them. The University has taken the same approach with regard to self-imposed penalties. It understands and acknowledges it is responsible for [redacted] and Blake's conduct that violated bylaws with institutional implications. As a result, the University will vacate wins for the 2008 and 2009 seasons in their entirety. The University also will reduce the number of initial and total grants-in-aid as follows: (a) a reduction of three initial and total grants in aid for the 2012-2013 academic year; (b) a reduction of three initial and total grants in aid for the 2013-2014 academic year; and (c) a reduction of three initial and total grants in aid for the 2014-2015 academic year. The University also will self-impose two years of probation. Finally, the University will pay a monetary fine of $50,000.

Most of the rest of the report is confirmation of and elaboration on the NCAA's charges. Among the things I didn't know: UNC first got an anonymous tip about Jennifer Wiley's extracurricular tutoring in April; interviews with the accused athlete, including by Butch Davis, were only met with denials. John Blake's explanation for the payments from Gary Wichard were that they gifts/loans to help him with expenses related to his move to North Carolina, health issues with his father-in-law, and his son's tuition. 

The report only gets defensive about the last allegation. UNC argues that Chris Hawkins was on campus as a former player and current training partner of Willie Parker, and that they had no reason to suspect he was providing impermissible benefits. Parker didn't like distractions when he trained, so Hawkins rarely came into contact with athletes. Of course, when asked what he did by one person, Hawkins at the time said "he sold jerseys, helped Parker, and planned to open a fitness facility in Atlanta." He told another he "takes care of Willie's stuff." Not the most fleshed-out business plan.

The report is even angrier about the failure to monitor social networking charge. This is the closest thing to going off I think you can get in one of these letters:

Allegation No. 9 (b) is unprecedented. 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 NCAA constitution and bylaws are silent with respect to any alleged institutional obligation to monitor the day-to-day communications of all of its student- athletes on undefined and ever-multiplying "social networking" sites. If the Committee agrees with the enforcement staff that a member institution is required to monitor student-athlete communications on all social networking sites, the University agrees that it did not do so. The University believes, however, that for the period relevant to this Allegation, its efforts to monitor football student-athlete social network communications were consistent with the requirements of NCAA legislation and the monitoring efforts of other institutions.

Of course, the NCAA and the media first became aware of UNC's agent problem through Marvin Austin's Twitter, while UNC was made aware of it by NCAA investigators coming to town. This kind of undercuts their case a bit.

Of course the question is, will the self-sanctions be enough? You can compare them to some recent punishments the NCAA has handed down. UNC is shooting for Boise State's level of punishment, who everyone agrees were for much more minor transgressions. Of course, LSU probably most resembles the sins of the Tar Heels, and they only lost two scholarships and were put on one year of probation. So there is precedent for a light touch. But I'm too cynical to think UNC, not the big-name program LSU is, will get off that light.

Oh, and there's one more tidbit from Dick Baddour's teleconference. Despite vacating the seasons that resulted in two bowl appearances (both losses) UNC will not be returning the money. In fact, I believe because vacated regular season wins would make Carolina ineligible for those bowls in the first place, both of the losses will be stricken from UNC's totals. Butch Davis will go down in history has having never lost a bowl game at Chapel Hill.

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