After a nearly two year investigation the NCAA Committee on Infractions has issued its final report on the investigation in UNC football over improper benefits and academic fraud. In addition to UNC's self imposed sanctions, the NCAA has added a one year postseason ban, scholarship reductions of 15 grant-in-aids spread out over a three year period and three years probation. The full report can be found here.
Overall that is slightly worse than I expected. Both Doc and I had thought UNC would avoid the bowl ban on the basis of UNC not being a repeat offender and the fact the original notice of allegations did not include a failure to monitor besides the one for social networking. The COI, however, saw it differently(emphasis mine):
Because of their involvement in the impermissible academic activities detailed in Finding B-1, student-athletes 1, 2 and 3 competed in certain football contests during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons while ineligible. Due to them receiving the impermissible benefits detailed in Finding B-4, student-athletes 5, 7 and 8 all participated in 13 games of the 2009 season while ineligible. In total, the six student-athletes participated in 71 football contests among them during the 2008,2009 and 2010 seasons while ineligible for intercollegiate competition. Due to the ineligible participation of the six football student-athletes, four of whom made substantial contributions to the football team's success, the institution received a significant competitive advantage. Further, as set forth in Findings B-1 and B-5, this case included a failure to monitor by the institution and the commission of academic fraud by an institutional employee. Therefore, in accordance with NCAA Bylaw 19.5.2-(g), the institution's football team shall end its 2012 season with the playing of its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and shall not be eligible to participate in any postseason competition, including a conference championship game or bowl game. Further, during the 2012 season the institution shall not be allowed
A postseason ban is also known as a competition ban. In this case the NCAA viewed UNC's use of ineligible players for three seasons(why 2010 is included is not clear since Devon Ramsay was cleared and no one else ineligible played) for a total of 71 games this was seen as a competitive advantage. As a result the NCAA is implementing a competition penalty to deal with the fact UNC got, what the NCAA deemed a competitive advantage. The COI also said UNC failed to monitor "academic fraud by an institutional employee." This refers to Jennifer Wiley and the notice of allegations made no reference to FTM as it pertained to Wiley only to social networking. It would seem the COI is tacking on a little extra here in the penalty phase where failure to monitor is concerned.
Other highlights(lowlights) from the report:
- The interminable delay in the final report was caused by John Blake who told the committee he had documents which would aid in his defense then failed to provide them for three months. Blake, for all his trouble, got only a three year show cause. In all honesty I might be more upset at that than UNC's postseason ban. Blake was the central figure in all of this so you would think he would have been hit with a five year show-cause which is standard. Then again the case against him was weak as it was so the NCAA didn't want to push it too far lest Blake files a lawsuit. Which he will so it doesn't matter.
- The NCAA was very pointed that UNC should have been on top of what Marvin Austin was doing with his free time. However, despite charging UNC with a "failure to monitor social networking" charge the NCAA says it will not issue a "blanket" rule on schools for monitoring social networking saying it would be "too much." If that confuses you, you are not alone. Basically the NCAA is saying schoosl will not be required to monitor social networking unless there is reason to monitor. What that means in UNC's case is Austin was out there engaging questionable activities the school should have been aware of it and take the step to monitor his social networking. At least that is how I am taking it because it is a little confusing.
- Back to the 2010 season being referenced. I am not sure what the logic is here. The only player involved in the NCAA investigation who played in 2010 aside from Deunta Williams and Kendric Burney(both penalized) was Devon Ramsay. As your might recall, Ramsay played in four games in 2010 but was pulled before the home game vs Clemson. He was later declared permanently ineligible, retained legal counsel and was ultimately reinstated. Did the NCAA still hold what Ramsay did wrong against UNC? That is unclear but it seems out-of-kilter for UNC to be dinged for the use of a player who was cleared.
- If you listened to the NCAA teleconference on the report there wasn't much there. The NCAA refuses to talk about hypotheticals which is maddening when members of the media are trying to dig into the rationale of the committee. The COI members also love to refer you to the report instead of answering the freaking question. In other words, talking to the NCAA COI after it issues a report is worthless.
- UNC will not be appealing the penalties. According to Chancellor Holden Thorp, UNC has little chance of winning and it would delay the start of the penalties.
Ultimately the public relations/image angle is where all of this hurts the most. The bowl ban is not a huge deal because anyone who committed to UNC in 2012 may not even play in the coming season since they will likely redshirt. Any recruits being lined up for 2013 will be totally unaffected by a bowl ban. Scholarship reductions are tough because it limits the depth of each class but that can be managed to some extent. Most importantly for UNC, Larry Fedora, the players and Tar Heel fans is the fact this long, painful business is finally done.