NCAA Institutes One Year Postseason Ban on UNC and Cuts Fifteen Scholarships

Just when you were ready to immerse yourself in a week of basketball anticipation, the NCAA went and shook things up by releasing its report on UNC's violations. The unusual delay is just one more thing we can lay at the feet of disgraced coach John Blake, who took three months to provide pertinent records to the NCAA investigators.

North Carolina was found to responsible for academic fraud, impermissible agent benefits, ineligible participation and a failure to monitor its football program. As a result, they have been put on probation for three years, the wins from 2008 and 2009 have been vacated, and the school is fined $50,000. More pertinent to the current athletes, the school received a one-year postseason ban, and will lose 15 scholarships over five years, or three per year. Also, tutor Jennifer Wiley and former player Chris Hawkins are required to disassociate themselves from the program, a requirement I don't believe UNC will have a problem with. (John Blake is also banned from college football for three years, which strikes me as light.)

In fact, the university will not appeal any of the decision handed down, as they view the odds of a successful appeal to be slight, and the process would only delay the instituting of the penalties. North Carolina had already vacated two seasons worth of wins, but the scholarship limits go into effect with the upcoming season. (The Tar Heels had also limited themselves by three scholarships over the next three years; these will be included in the five per year the NCAA has mandated.)

As things go, the ruling was harsh but reasonably fair. The penalty is fairly similar to Ohio State's, who had the same postseason ban and more scholarships revoked. In that case there was a head coach lying to superiors (and the NCAA prior to a bowl game) instead of an assistant, but also not the academic violations, so you can make your own judgment if you'd like. The NCAA also stumbled a bit with regards to social media. Part of the failure to monitor charge involves not keeping track of Marvin Austin's Twitter boasts, but:

The committee declines to impose a blanket duty on institutions to monitor social networking sites. Consistent with the duty to monitor other information outside the campus setting (beyond on-campus activities such as countable athletically related activities, financial aid, satisfactory progress, etc.), such sites should be part of the monitoring effort if the institution becomes aware of an issue that might be resolved in some part by reviewing information on a site. For example, there exists no inherent duty of institutions to monitor the purchase of clothes by student-athletes. However, if an institution obtains information that a student-athlete's clothes are being purchased by a booster, and if that student-athlete is seen wearing new and expensive clothes, a duty to investigate the student-athlete's clothing purchases would arise.

[...]

The committee recognizes that social networking sites are a preferred method of communication in present society, particularly so among college-age individuals. While we do not impose an absolute duty upon member institutions to regularly monitor such sites, the duty to do so may arise as part of an institution's heightened awareness when it has or should have a reasonable suspicion of rules violations. If the membership desires that the duty to monitor social networking sites extend further than we state here, the matter is best dealt with through NCAA legislation.

So you don't have to monitor social networking sites, but if there's something fishy and evidence of it on them, well, you better have been monitoring them. It's slightly incoherent, but most schools are putting rules in place regarding these things anyway, and if they're not, local sports media and opposing fans are doing the monitoring for them.

The report was followed by teleconferences from the NCAA and UNC respectively, neither of which shed any more light on things. Once the transcripts are released, you can probably mine them for some humor – people invited to ask questions on these things are often hilariously self-absorbed, but otherwise, there's not going to be much else of interest. New coach Larry Fedora said all the new coach things you'd expect after the announcement, and Butch Davis separately released a statement reminding folks once again he was not named in any allegations. Art Chansky is still Art Chansky (again, more on that when there are transcripts) and Clemson fans are really, really annoyed about this.

UNC will now presumably get back to obsessing about John Henson's wrist.

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