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WTVD's Mark Armstrong Talks To Bob Orr About NCAA Issues

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Bob Orr is a former NC Supreme court judge who has been lending his services to UNC players amid the NCAA investigation into UNC football. Orr represented Devon Ramsay after the fullback was declared permanently ineligible by the NCAA winning an unprecedented reversal. Now, Orr has stepped in to represent Quintin Coples and "two other players" in the wake of Coples attending a post-draft party in Washington, DC. WTVD sports anchor Mark Armstrong had a length conversation with Orr and shared some of the quotes on his Twitter feed.


Just finished lengthy phone convo with Robert Orr - lawyer assisting Quinton Coples and 'two other' UNC players. Bear with me...lots ahead

On why he's assisting the players: Questioned by NCAA, players have 'lost faith in the fairness of the system'.

Said UNC legal team has been excellent, but there's 'an inherent conflict of interest' btwn protecting an institution and individual rights.

Reason for widespread radio silence on Coples issue: NCAA mandates silence, there is insinuated retribution for talking

Says there has been 'no accusation or suggestion of wrongdoing' from NCAA to Coples and other 2 players. Just interviews.

Orr's major beef is with NCAA system having zero ingrained 'rights for students'. In entire 435 page NCAA manual, zero on rights of students

Great quote: 'If I was younger and had unlimited money, I'd do nothing but mess with the NCAA."

Orr repped Devon Ramsay - explained how first part of NCAA process is admitting guilt. There is no place in process to maintain innocence.

Orr says NCAA is given far wider latitude than legally normal in what they ask/demand during investigations. If you don't coop(cooperate), look out.

Asked him what he'd have said if he was in the room for Quinn phone incident: 'Now wait a minute - no.'

Speaking with UNC source - the '2 other players' should be very quickly cleared of any wrongdoing

According to Orr, this latest round is merely in the "interview" stage but that in itself can be a dangerous thing. On the TV show The West Wing the President was going to be investigated for concealing a chronic medical condition during the election. The White House Counsel was explaining to the President's personal assistant why he needed a lawyer. The WHC said the prosecutor would call him in for a deposition and ask him various questions. A month later he would be called in again and ask the same questions. If his answers differed in the slightest they would charge him with perjury. That is how it is with the NCAA more or less. Take the Robert Quinn situation as an example. Quinn was never asked directly about certain things he received or trips he took so he never mentioned those items in his initial interview with the NCAA. Yet when the NCAA found out about the improper benefits he was dinged with an ethical violation since he "lied." In other words omitting the truth, even when not asked about something is a sin for the NCAA. You could argue Quinn should have confessed all from the start but even if doesn't, should he be penalized for not answering questions he wasn't asked? One of the main reasons Orr has jumped into the fray here is in part because athletes do not have representation focus solely on their interests. Orr points out the UNC lawyers are looking after UNC which sometimes means throwing a player under the bus as was the case with Quinn being forced to hand over his personal cell phone.

Of course the easiest way to handle all of this is do nothing wrong and you will have no worries. However Orr notes besides no personal representation, the NCAA manual does not afford much in the way of individual rights for student-athletes. Even more frightening is the NCAA process is centered on admitting guilt first then appealing that. There is no "innocent until proven guilty" when the NCAA starts poking around which gets back to why even basic interviews are precarious. Even if an athlete does nothing wrong, the fact the NCAA is asking questions means some presumption of guilt has already been applied. It only makes sense for athletes to have their own counsel given the stakes. If the NCAA was really interested in doing things above board they would create rules similar to what exists in the criminal justice system where an athlete can avail himself some kind of counsel. Which won't happen because the NCAA does not care about the individual athlete. Plus intimidation is a primary tool for getting answers. The last thing NCAA investigators want is for interrogation subjects to have someone who understands the process protecting them. Better to have them scared spitless I guess.

No timetable for the end of this part of the investigation has been given though Armstrong did say the "two other players" are expected to be cleared soon. At this point I would also reiterate that attending the party was not an NCAA violation. It was stupid but the NCAA did not prohibit it. The NCAA did warn of the dangers and that warning should have been more than enough to keep Coples or any other UNC player away from it. The final disposition of this is based on whether the players in questions paid for all their expenses or not. Given the number of things you can do which the NCAA might consider an improper benefit(i.e. riding in a car, sleeping on a couch) I am not optimistic.