Butch Davis finally came out with the announcement UNC fans have been dreading for months – Marvin Austin has been suspended indefinitely. For what, you may ask? Not anything agent-related, and not for any tutor misconduct either. Take it away, Butch:
"This decision is not a result of the ongoing NCAA review," says Davis. "Marvin has violated team rules and has neglected his responsibilities to the team."
And it's at this point I just throw up my hands and give up. I understand not talking about the agent investigation while its ongoing; the NCAA doesn't allow it. And I approve of not talking about the academic investigation, as it too is ongoing, and being related to academics probably falls under a couple of state privacy laws. But a generic announcement of an indefinite suspension with no explanation more than "team rules" and "responsibilities" is just stupid. Austin did something wrong and is being punished; to not say what that misstep was is just fuel for baseless speculation and further puts the program under a cloud.
So let's engage in some baseless speculation, then. We can toss out the agent-scandal possibility, and Austin was still practicing with the second team and not the scout team before his suspension, so the tutor problems are right out. Something criminal would have been public information that would have been reported, so we're clear there. Quan Sturdivant's misdemeanor possession charge hasn't warranted a suspension, nor did Jared McAdoo's misdemeanor for possession of a BB gun. TE Rashad Mason was suspended indefinitely for, again, violating team rules – he later transferred to Alabama A&M, where he failed to become academically eligible – while Donte Paige-Moss got one game for getting into an altercation with a State player. (And no suspension for assaulting a fellow UNC player.)
If I had to guess then, the duration and the wording would point to problems in the classroom, unrelated to the tutor thing. Summer school ended back at the end of July, and classes just got underway last week, so I don't know how the timing works out, but if I was a betting man that's what I would go with. Although I wouldn't have to speculate at all if the athletic department was a little more forthcoming.
Edited to add: I forgot about Cooter Arnold, who was also suspended indefinitely around the same time of year in 2007, for reasons that were "partially because of academic issues," he later said. He returned after five games and went on to have his greatest moment be a 66-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks. So there may be a chance of Austin returning mid-season.