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Update on the NCAA’s investigation of North Carolina

Updates on Greg Sankey, as well as an updated time table of the investigation

Track and Field: NCAA Indoor Championships Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, AP News released a statement in regards to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and gave an update on the timeline of the NCAA investigation against North Carolina. For the past few weeks, Sankey has been requested to recuse himself from the investigation of UNC ‘s academic investigation based on a potential conflict of interest with the ACC-member school.

The request for Sankey to be recused came from Elliot Abrams, the attorney representing Deborah Crowder, who was charged with the violations involving the “fake classes” that are the focal point of the investigation. In the letter, Abrams told the NCAA that Sankey had a “personal, professional and institutional” interest in the outcome of the case, seeing how he is presiding commissioner over a rival conference. Also in the letter, Abrams said that the recent revisions to the NOA should be tossed out because of “inappropriate pressure from a conflicted hearing panel.”

Sankey submitted a letter on April 14th that was received by the Associated Press stating that he would not step down, and that the panel overlooking the investigations would “fairly decide this case.”

"The panel, including me, will hear and decide this case based on the case record and the membership's bylaws," Sankey wrote to all involved parties.

Abrams responded to Sankey’s refusal to step down, saying that he believes the NCAA has no intent of acting within its own bylaws, and that the process is “merely a show designed to reach a predetermined result.”

The statement by Sankey seems to be quite a loaded statement. He is stating that the infractions committee is to act within the bylaws of the NCAA, but as the case stands right now, any violations committed by UNC are not within the NCAA’s wheelhouse.

For a better explanation as to why this is, I would recommend checking out Jay Exum’s article that does an excellent job of breaking down the investigation to this point. Should the NCAA attempt to punish North Carolina in any way that goes against said bylaws, there is the potential for this to turn into a long, grueling battle that could find its way into a court should UNC choose to take action.

Should the NCAA do as Sankey is claiming they will, we may see the NCAA get called on their bluff on the amended notice of allegations and revert back to the basketball program’s name not even being mentioned in it at all, leaving non-UNC fans with the sense that the NCAA played favorites with one of its most athletically-profitable institutions.

An update was also provided on key dates in the investigation:

  • Deborah Crowder is expected to go through the interview process within the coming weeks.
  • May 16th is when UNC’s response to the latest charges is due.
  • August 16-17 is the anticipated timeframe for the hearing of UNC’s case.
  • Rulings of the case would be expected to follow weeks, if not months later.

So what does this all mean? Not a lot. At face value, all it means is we will know when to look out for how UNC responds, and if we’re lucky there will not be yet another notice of allegations and hearings will proceed as scheduled. History dictates that nobody should hold their breath for this to happen, and that even if the hearings take place we’re still looking into the great unknown as to when this thing will end.

One thing that will potentially be crucial is Deborah Crowder’s interview. Depending on how her statements are viewed by the infractions committee or the NCAA, there may be a change in dynamic to this case for better or for worse. Either way, the wait continues.