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Dwight Jones Barred From UNC Pro Day

Additional evidence that the new boss is not the same as the old boss.

UNC held its NFL Pro Day at Kenan Stadium to give NFL scouts and coaches a chance to look at Tar Heel players who have declared for the NFL Draft. One player not present at the event was record setting WR Dwight Jones. He was prohibited from attending stemming from the secondary violation in late December that nearly kept him out of UNC's bowl game.

Via Inside Carolina.

This year’s event lacked the hubbub of the 2011 Pro Day that welcomed back Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Robert Quinn as participants following their key roles in the NCAA investigation. New athletic director Bubba Cunningham and head coach Larry Fedora decided to handle things differently this year and did not allow former wide receiver Dwight Jones to participate.

Jones committed a secondary NCAA violation in December 2011 by allowing his name and photo to be used to promote his birthday party in his hometown of Burlington, N.C. The NCAA restored Jones’ eligibility based on his agreement to cancel the party, but according to a UNC press release, Jones re-scheduled the event immediately following UNC’s bowl game and had the party.

Former linebacker Ebele Okakpu was also not permitted to participate after his dismissal from the team in October.

Jones ended up working out at nearby East Chapel Hill High School so scouts could still get a look at him.

This is real simple and completely understandable why UNC is taking this approach. Anything and everything that is questionable is going to get this kind of treatment. Okakpu was dismissed from the team so he was not allowed to come back(see: Hawkins, Chris) Jones had an NCAA issue connected to a party with his name attached to it which jeopardized his eligibility for the Independence Bowl. The party was canceled and Jones was reinstated. After the game the party ended up happening anyway which probably did not make the NCAA too happy.

Then again allowing Jones to participate in Pro Day was not going to create an additional NCAA issue. The same is true of Okakpu's situation. The problem here is perception and allowing a dismissed player or a player who had a run-in with the NCAA then defied the terms of his reinstatement to attend Pro Day is not a look the staff and administration want to project right now. If they had allowed both players to attend, then the criticism gets levied that nothing has changed at UNC. Doing it this way makes the story about the Tar Heel coaches and athletic administration setting a stringent standard when it comes to potential issues.

That is why saying what Jones did is not as egregious as what Austin, Little or Quinn did is irrelevant. In fact pointing that out actually underscores how seriously UNC is viewing anything related to compliance and the NCAA. Yes, it seems trivial in Jones case and maybe a tad unfair to Okakpu. However UNC is all about rebuilding the public image and managing a three year NCAA probation. Much like the NCAA investigation, some of this is coming at the expense of the players which is just another painful illustration of how screwed up the system really is these days. Couple that with the fact the two most decorated wide receivers in school are basically persona non grata in Chapel Hill now and I really don't know what the heck we are doing anymore.