In much the same way you or I would discuss our trip to see an oral surgeon.
Deunta Williams answered questions about why he was suspended four games by the NCAA for improper benefits. Yes, hearing him describe it makes it all sound as asinine as we originally thought.
I missed the first part of your explanation -- can you repeat what happened?
“I went out to California, me and Kendric, and we stayed with Omar Brown. And instead of me swiping my card, he swiped his card for the hotel and we paid him cash at that time. So they deemed that as a violation and that’s why [the release] says $1500 and I only had to pay back $400. That $400 is from him taxiing us from the airport to his house and to our hotels. Me and my girlfriend, when we went at the time, we stayed at his house for two nights, so that’s where all of that money that I have to pay back comes from.”
So if you had swiped the card, this might not have happened?
At what point did you realize that the NCAA thought this was a problem?
“To be honest, I really didn’t think it was going to be a big issue because we had paid the money. The line of questioning that they asked me was “Who paid for the trip?” Well, I paid for the trip. K.B. and I paid for the trip together. That was the line of questioning. So once we revealed certain details, for instance, when I stayed with my girlfriend at that time for two nights, they felt like that was a violation and stuff like that. That was the kind of stuff that they got me on. And I felt like me and Omar had had a relationship for four years, so I thought it was a big brother, little brother type of thing. I would have done the same thing. I won’t now, but I would have done the same thing if I was in his position. But they said it was a violation and I understand that, so I manned up and served what I had to serve.”
When were those trips?
“Two years ago. One was two years ago and the one with my girlfriend was this past spring.”
In the offseason?
“Offseason, during the spring.”
Most interesting part? Williams saying they had paid for the trip when asked by the NCAA about it. Then, as Williams explains, when the NCAA dug into the details, it was then revealed that technically Williams and Kendric Burney did not pay for the trip. At least not directly. That bit makes me wonder if the NCAA thought they were being uncooperative or lying about the whole thing.
Now, to be clear on what I think we are talking about here. The way I read Williams' statements there one was trip taken with Kendric Burney. It is that trip which involved Omar Brown using his credit card to pay for the hotel and then the two Tar Heels paying him back. Williams said he could have used his own card but Brown did it instead and they paid him. That strikes me as odd but when I think how many times I have been with other people at dinner or what not and someone pays for the whole bill on their card and then you pay that person back. Who knows, maybe Brown got a preferred rate, credit card points or a free iPod withe very 1000th purchase. At any rate, according to Williams, had he simply used his card instead of Brown using his, he would have avoided at least some of this. Again, think about what Williams is saying. If Brown and Williams are standing in the hotel and Brown swipes his card then Williams hands him $200 in cash an NCAA violation has still occurred.
As for the other trip, that is where the NCAA decided Omar Brown's house was a Motel 6 or Marriott. Williams went with his girlfriend and they stayed at Brown's house. Why? They may have not wanted to stay in the same hotel room and getting two rooms would have been costly? Anyway, they stayed at Brown's house and the NCAA put a value on that and Brown providing transportation while they were there. In the eyes of the NCAA you should have to rent a car or walk I guess if you go visit someone you have been friends with for four years now.
In the end, you have to like Williams' attitude. He said he "manned up" and served his suspension. If you have ever heard Williams interviewed he is a great kid with an outgoing personality and excellent representative of the Tar Heels. Unfortunately he got caught up in the web of NCAA rules. Based on his statements here, it sounds as though he was not aware what he was doing constituted a violation. He paid for the plane tickets, paid Brown back for the hotel. It is reasonable to assume he did not know staying at Brown's house was a problem because, quite frankly, that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Williams did not address other items such as going to Disneyland but isn't it reasonable to assume he followed the same practice and paid Brown back after the fact?
In other NCAA investigation related news. As Doc noted on the Clemson game preview, FB Devon Ramsay was held out due to new information coming to light. This appears to be related to the academic probe and leads to one really important question: Will this impact UNC's two wins vs Rutgers and ECU since Ramsay played in those games? Hopefully not and seeing UNC has bent over backwards to ensure they did not use ineligible players, maybe some understanding can prevail here(yeah right) Backup safety Jonathan Smith was declared out for the season. There were rumors that a player went before the honor court around Thursday. Do the math on that one. My guess is the honor court nailed Smith to the wall and his eligibility was impacted.