Ah, March. Time for the madness that is spring football.
Believe it or not, as the UNC basketball team heads to Charlotte to begin NCAA tournament play, spring practice for Carolina football will begin on Wednesday. And with the beginning of spring practice comes some news and notes:
*** The NCAA has ruled that senior cornerback Charles Brown must sit out the first game of the 2011 season for receiving benefits from a person identified as a prospective agent prior to the 2010 season. The amount of those benefits? $86.94.
Brown was frequently mentioned as among those Tar Heels being investigated for contact with agents, but was also swept up in honor court issues and was placed on University probation. As a result, Brown redshirted during the 2010 season, and now will have to sit out the opener against James Madison this fall.
Let's be clear: Brown was involved in both sides of the unpleasantness at UNC; for his academic issues he sat out the entire 2010 season, and for his agent issues he will sit out one game of the 2011 season (There is also the possibility because of the NCAA's careful wordsmithing that "a person identified as a prospective agent" is probably Chris Hawkins, or else they would have said simply "agent").
But it is also clear that Brown has paid a dear price, in that he will have missed a combined 14 games over two seasons for his transgressions. Just keep this in mind when the ABCers say there has been no penalty for UNC for the football scandal when the NCAA has yet again exceeded its own guidelines relating to the number of games suspended per amount of benefits received. The NCAA has suspended Brown for one game for less than a hundred bucks when less than $500 is supposed to result in zero games suspended.
*** In other unpleasantness-related news, UNC is allowing the disgraced three - Marvin Austin, Greg Little, and Robert Quinn, to participate in UNC's Pro Day on March 31st. This decision, which comes with the blessing of UNC's holy triumvirate (Chancellor Thorp, AD Baddour, and Coach Davis) should come as no surprise given the support lent to Austin's participation in the Shrine Bowl last month.
*** In other personnel news, QB A.J. Blue is fully healthy and ready to compete for a starting job with sophomore Bryn Renner and freshman Marquise Williams. Blue was injured in 2009 and redshirted last season. RB Giovanni Bernard continues his recovery from an ACL injury and will have limited participation this spring. Meanwhile, WR Joshua Adams and CB Terry Shankle will sit out the spring with ongoing medical issues. Adams has an auto-immune condition and Shankle continues to recovery from an injury during the season.
Also, DE Linwan Euwell, who was part of the group of players who missed time last season due to the academic investigation but was later cleared to return, has left school and will not return.
And now, back to basketball...