The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges(which has the unfortunate acronym of SACSCOC) hit UNC with 12 months probation over multiple violations of SACS standards based on information found in the Wainstein Report released in October.
The group said UNC-CH violated seven principles, including integrity, program content, control of intercollegiate athletics, academic support services, academic freedom, faculty role in governance and Title IV program responsibilities.
SACS defines program content as: degree programs that embody a coherent course of study that is compatible with its stated mission and is based upon fields of study appropriate to higher education.
So what does it all mean? Actually not much, well not much in the practical sense. There isn't any real pain involved here save for the poor interns and office worker drones tasked with compiling the paperwork needed to fulfill SACS requests. Given the rarity of SACS taking this sort of action there is some level of seriousness to it but again there isn't much to this probation that feels in any way punitive. The only people who are telling us it's bad are the people handing it down and media outlets for which this fits a certain narrative.
There is also the fact probation was the only punishment SACS could realistically hand down. I know, SACS could pull UNC's accreditation but let's be real. Doing that would have shut down a major research university and no one is doing that over one department and a very small set of classes relative to UNC's total course offerings. As much as the SACS president talks about how this is a "big deal" and what not, 12 months from now people will be talking about the sanctions the NCAA hands down not anything SACS did.
Speaking of the NCAA it is humorous the NCAA charged UNC with lack of control and specifically cited an academic department while SACS said UNC lost control of athletics. Will someone make up their mind please?