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The Notice of Allegations Watch Begins in Earnest

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you had Thursday in the Notice of Allegations Public Release Pool then you are probably going to collect.

UNC received the notice of allegations from the NCAA back on May 21st and announced to the world it had received it on May 22nd. UNC also announced at that point it would release the document when it was good and ready. This was noticeable shift from 2011 when UNC did the redaction and released all in the same day. Four years later the administration has been far more circumspect which no doubt is as much about PR as anything else.

So what can we expect from the NOA's release? The most important aspect of the release is getting a glimpse at the direction the NCAA has taken the investigation. Not unlike warrants and indictments in court, the notice of allegations not only lists what violations the NCAA thinks UNC has committed but establishes a scope the committee of infractions will use for sanctions. The latter is extremely important since it really brings everything into focus. For months we've heard endless speculation on what the NCAA might or should do with UNC. There has been no shortage of hot takes on how UNC should be punished or that Roy Williams should be suspended/fired/ drawn and quartered. However none of that speculative vomiting included a shred of actual knowledge of violations the NCAA believes UNC has committed.

With the NOA, that part of the picture comes into focus and while it's never a good idea to guess sanctions at any point in this process, the absence of certain charges could take specific sanctions off the table. For example if the NCAA doesn't bring specific charges against men's basketball or allege there was eligibility issues with men's basketball players, the potential for sanctions against that program such as vacating wins, titles, etc is should be minimized. Vacating wins is generally associated with the use of ineligible players so if there aren't any it makes it less likely that type of sanction would be used.

That being said, there is a catch. Given the systemic nature of the academic scandal, the fact multiple sports could be involved and this being the second NOA in four years for UNC, it is highly likely the dreaded lack of institutional control charge makes an appearance. Here is how Inside Carolina's Greg Barnes defined LOIC.

LOIC centers on if there were adequate policies and procedures in place for an institution to comply with NCAA rules, and if those steps were being monitored and enforced by designated individuals at the time of a violation. A failure to monitor occurs when those policies and procedures are in place to comply with NCAA rules, but the institution failed to fully monitor specific areas of the program for limited periods of time.

Simply put, does a school have proper procedures and adhere to policies that result in compliance? Given how the AFAM academic scandal unfolded, LOIC is probably an easy case to make. As much as there is a clamoring for charges against sports and certain individuals, this scandal is very much an administrative failure on a fairly immense scale. In that respect, LOIC is probably the one charge that's the most predictable in this case.

LOIC is also the biggest stick the NCAA has and opens the door for the committee on infractions to potentially levy severe penalties. While the lack of sport specific charges would seemingly keep those programs clean of severe sanctions, the COI could choose to sanction UNC in a severe manner such as vacating wins, postseason bans or a large fine just to make a point. The presence of LOIC means the door would still be ajar for certain penalties even if more specific charges are brought.

It should be noted the release of the notice of allegations, while a sad day for UNC, also means the beginning of the end is at hand. The arrival of the NOA puts a timetable in motion and means the scandal probably has less than a year of life left in it.  No one knows when the final report will come but at the very least we will have a fuller idea where this is heading.

Regardless of the what the NOA says, there will be plenty of unhappy people out there. If the NOA doesn't properly charge the right people i.e. men's basketball and Roy Williams, there will be more salt than the Dead Sea out there on the interwebs. Much of the coverage of UNC's scandal, especially on the local level, has been invested in a certain result. Anything short of that result will bring forth weeping and gnashing of teeth unlike anything seen previously in this story.

On the bright side, at least we'll be entertained.