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Baddour Says Some Players Cleared; Travel List to be Released by Friday AM [UPDATED]

Robbi Pickeral at ACC Now is reporting that UNC athletic director Dick Baddour has confirmed some members of the football team have been cleared in the ongoing investigation into academic misconduct. In addition, Baddour said Carolina will announce who will not make the trip prior to the team's departure for Atlanta at 9:30 Friday morning:

He said the school has been able to clear some football players of wrong-doing, although he would not say how many, again because the investigation is ongoing. He also said that when the school announces who won't make the Friday trip to Atlanta, it won't mention the names of the players who have been exonerated.

"We would only mention names of people who were not on the roster," Baddour said. "We would not mention names of people who had been in review on one side or the other, or cleared. We would only be talking about people who were not going to participate."

Translation: We know you're going to have the Kenan Football Center, team hotel, and Georgia Dome staked out on Friday to see who didn't make the trip, so we're going to go ahead and tell you who won't be coming.

[UPDATE] ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting as many as 16 players could be suspended for the LSU game. Schad writes:

A source said North Carolina may have to play without seven defensive starters, including numerous high draft choice projections.

Among the players in danger of not traveling with North Carolina Friday are: Austin, Quinn, linebackers Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant and cornerbacks Kendric Burney and Charles Brown.

A source said North Carolina may also be depleted at running back on Saturday. The top two running backs for the Tar Heels following spring practice were Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston. Wide receiver Greg Little has also been questioned about his trips, agents and papers.

No huge surprises here, except for the possibility running backs being involved. The defensive names have been kicked around since all this broke last week and with no NCAA resolution in sight for Little, it is not a stretch to imagine he would not play. Also, Houston was suspended from spring practice for academics and Draughn had an inopportune tweet recently about not knowing his professors and the names of his classes.

On the other hand, how does this information contrast with Baddour's assertion that some players have been cleared? So many questions... In any case, carry on.

From the standpoint of progress of the investigation, this is good news. This means things have been moving forward to the point that UNC feels like it can exonerate some players (assuming also the NCAA has signed off on this). Robert Quinn, for one, said publicly yesterday that he had nothing to do with the academic investigation.

"'If we have guys in question, they won't travel,' Baddour said in a telephone interview. 'And if that question is eliminated, then we would try to get them down there Saturday,'" notes the piece. Pickeral also writes:

He (Baddour) cautioned that when the school does announce who is - and is not - traveling to this weekend's game, people should understand that the list "may be fluid. There may be some alterations after we say that, but we've got to work towards that. We're just hoping that we can hold on and be in a position. We want to be able to give the most up-to-date and accurate information, and it's worth waiting a little longer to do that."

Translation: We're still working on it and we may hold some guys out this weekend who are cleared later.

Given the fact that UNC has said they will not allow anybody who is under question to make the trip, is it safe to assume that if a player is on the travel squad, he is all good? On the other hand, just because a player is not on the travel squad does not mean a player is done for. Baddour has said players could be cleared up until game time; I can't help but have this "Waterboy" vision of Dick Baddour in the Kathy Bates role, driving a fanboat through downtown Atlanta to get a player to the stadium.

[UPDATE]: ESPN's Schad writes, "The school is exploring the possibility of 'rolling suspensions' with the NCAA, which would allow them to spread losses over multiple games." This is interesting in light of Baddour's "the list is fluid" comment, so maybe those traveling to LSU could face a sanction later. We'll just have to see how it all shakes out in the next 24 hours.

[ADDITIONAL NOTE]: I would just like to reiterate a point THF has made previously about the difference in the two prongs of the football issue. On the agent issue, of which the NCAA was in charge, UNC engaged in a cone of silence. On the academic issue, of which UNC is in charge, there has been frequent comment and updates, if only to say "we can't really tell you much." UNC maintained the cone of silence regarding the agent prong was driven by the NCAA, but the media and rival fan bases scoffed at the notion, going so far as to obtain quotes from the NCAA about the generalities of rules during an investigation while ignoring that SCAR and Alabama have also said absolutely nothing  despite the posturing of their high-profile coaches.

And yet on the academic issue, where UNC is directing the scope of the investigation, there is much greater communication. Wow, could it be that the situation was exactly what Dick Baddour said it was, that the NCAA asked UNC not to be out front on the agent issue? Hard not to draw that conclusion when you see side-by-side how the two issues have been handled for public consumption.