UNC’s hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions began Wednesday morning. The hearing is closed to the public, but here’s what we know:
▪ Debby Crowder, one of the central figures behind the bogus African Studies courses at the heart of the case, was among the first defendants to enter the meeting room for the hearing. Crowder walked in separate from UNC’s contingent – which includes chancellor Carol Folt and athletic director Bubba Cunningham – though Crowder was with her attorney, Elliot Abrams.
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▪ About 10 minutes later, UNC’s contingent arrived in full: Folt and Cunningham, as well as coaches Larry Fedora, Sylvia Hatchell and Roy Williams. All of UNC’s coaches arrived with legal representation (which is standard when coaches appear before the infractions committee). Wade Smith is Hatchell’s attorney, and Jim Cooney is representing Williams.
▪ Don’t expect much in the way of news from this hearing Wednesday. It is closed for a reason: the NCAA infractions process often operates in secrecy. In fact, had UNC not posted a document containing the location of the hearing (It’s at the Gaylord Opryland), the location of the hearing could have remained unknown.
▪ Per UNC spokesman Steve Kirschner, there will be no university comment after the proceedings end Wednesday. Representatives from the NCAA – neither the NCAA Enforcement Staff, nor the Committee on Infractions – will comment at any time. So if there’s any comment coming from anyone, it will be from the UNC side. And if anyone talks, it’s likely to be Thursday.
▪ The hearing is scheduled for two days. That doesn’t mean that it will last that long, but that’s the expectation. If it concludes on Wednesday, that would be a surprise. Some anticipated that the hearing could last beyond normal business hours on Wednesday, but that it’s also scheduled to last into Thursday likely precludes the possibility of too late of an ending on Wednesday.
▪ For those curious about the media presence, it includes reporters from: ESPN, several local TV stations and three Triangle-area TV stations. There were at least five TV cameras set up not far from the meeting room, prepared to capture the moment when officials and coaches began walking through the doors.
▪ Something silly: Fedora briefly left the meeting room at one point in the morning and headed to the restroom. He was escorted, flanked on either side. Perhaps they were ensuring that the secrets of the infractions hearing would remain intact during his brief refuge outside of the meeting walls. When he walked back, Fedora flashed a toothy grin.
▪ The NCAA takes seriously the sanctity of the hearing. Access to the meeting room doors, even, is roped off. The windows looking inside have been covered from the inside by dark curtains. There are two security guards standing guard outside. It’s impossible, even, to detect even ambient noise escaping from the hearing – not that it’d be particularly noisy.
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