North Carolina

UNC coaches, and their lawyers, appear before NCAA Committee on Infractions

UNC coaches and officials arrive for closed-door NCAA infractions hearing in August

UNC coaches Roy Williams, Larry Fedora and Sylvia Hatchell and athletics director Bubba Cunningham arrive in Nashville in August for UNC’s long-awaited hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
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UNC coaches Roy Williams, Larry Fedora and Sylvia Hatchell and athletics director Bubba Cunningham arrive in Nashville in August for UNC’s long-awaited hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

More than three years after the NCAA opened an investigation into how bogus African Studies courses benefited athletes at UNC-Chapel Hill, university officials convened here on Wednesday for UNC’s long-awaited hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

At least two of the coaches brought prominent North Carolina defense lawyers with them.

The appearance is the next step in a long-running case that began when the NCAA notified UNC on June 30, 2014, that it was opening an investigation. That letter, a notice of inquiry, arrived at UNC 1,143 days ago.

CROWDER
Former University of North Carolina secretary Deborah Crowder arrives at an NCAA hearing Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. It has taken more than two years for North Carolina to appear before an NCAA infractions committee panel since initially being charged with five top-level violations amid its long-running academic scandal. Mark Zaleski AP

Now, after several stops and restarts in a case that has included three notices of allegations and combative correspondence between the NCAA and UNC’s legal team, the university’s day in court – the NCAA’s version, at least – has finally arrived.

The hearing began at 8:30 local time, and several UNC officials and coaches walked into a conference room here moments before the hearing began. Among them: chancellor Carol Folt, athletic director Bubba Cunningham and coaches Larry Fedora, Sylvia Hatchell and Roy Williams.

UNC chancellor Carol Folt, basketball coach Roy Williams, football coach Larry Fedora and women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell enter the room where the NCAA hearing is being held in Nashville, TN.

Each of the coaches came with lawyers.

Jim Cooney of Charlotte, who represented former Sen. John Edwards, former Gov. Mike Easley and Duke Power in recent years, is here with Williams, the men’s basketball coach. Raleigh attorney Wade Smith, a well-known defense lawyer who was involved in the Duke lacrosse case and represented former state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, is representing Hatchell, the women’s basketball coach.

UNC is facing five Level I allegations, including lack of institutional control and impermissible benefits charges related to the courses at the heart of the case. It was unclear Wednesday morning how long the hearing, which is closed to the public, would last. It is expected to last into Thursday.

The infractions committee could accept the NCAA Enforcement Staff’s case, or the committee could alter the charges in some way, either by adding additional ones or rejecting arguments the enforcement staff has made. A final ruling in the case, one that would include penalties, is still likely several months away.

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams talks about the allegations against UNC during press conference Sunday, April 2, 2017, before the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship national championship game at the University of Phoenix Stadium

Andrew Carter: 919-829-8944, @_andrewcarter

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