North Carolina

UNC investigation report expected to be released Friday, sources say

UNC academic scandal explained

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was extensively investigated by the NCAA for a system of fake classes taken by thousands of students, roughly half of them athletes, that spanned three decades.
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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was extensively investigated by the NCAA for a system of fake classes taken by thousands of students, roughly half of them athletes, that spanned three decades.

After a week-long delay, the NCAA’s final report at the end of a 3 ½-year investigation at UNC-Chapel Hill will be released on Friday, according to sources with knowledge of the case, but who were not authorized to speak publicly about it.

The Friday release, which was also reported by ESPN, Inside Carolina and the Associated Press, comes one week later than when the NCAA planned to release the report. The university received notice last Thursday, according to another source, that the report would be released last Friday. It was postponed amid UNC’s launch of a long-planned $4.3 billion fundraising campaign.

A university spokesman later said it had been postponed due to “scheduling circumstances.”

Institutions under major NCAA investigation are notified 24 hours before the NCAA Committee on Infractions intends to release its final investigative report. Though schools receive a day’s notice that the report is coming, they generally don’t receive a copy of report until the morning of its release.

The NCAA’s investigation, which began in June 2014 after a separate investigation into the university’s program ended in 2012, has focused on how bogus African Studies courses helped UNC athletes maintain their eligibility. The classes existed for 18 years, from 1993 through 2011, but the NCAA investigation has focused on half that time – from 2002 through 2011.

UNC is facing five Level I allegations – the most serious the NCAA can levy. Among those allegations are a lack of institutional control, and that the university’s athletic department conspired to provide athletes impermissible benefits in the form of access to the courses the heart of the investigation.

The university, through its legal team, has argued that the problems central to the case aren’t under the NCAA’s jurisdiction. The NCAA Enforcement Staff, which is the NCAA’s investigative arm, vehemently disagreed with that assertion.

“The issues at the heart of this case are clearly the NCAA’s business,” John Duncan, the vice president of enforcement, wrote in a July 17 letter to UNC, in what was the NCAA’s final correspondence with UNC before it appeared before the infractions committee.

“When a member institution allows an academic department to provide benefits to student-athletes that are materially different from the general student body, it is the NCAA’s business,” Duncan’s letter continued. “When athletics academic counselors exploit ‘special arrangement’ classes for student-athletes in ways unintended by and contrary to the bylaws, it is the NCAA’s business.

“When a member institution provides student-athletes an inside track to enroll in unpublicized courses where grades of As and Bs are the norm, it is the NCAA’s business.”

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.

UNC, meanwhile, has argued otherwise. The case has been marked by several unusual delays. The NCAA issued its first Notice of Allegations (NOA) in May, 2015, before UNC provided the NCAA with new information that halted the case. The NCAA then issued a second NOA in April, 2016.

The case then appeared headed for a date with the infractions committee but a procedural hearing with members of that committee brought another delay. The NCAA issued a third NOA last December, and the case finally went before the infractions committee in August.

The penalties that UNC is facing have remained uncertain. At their most severe, the sanctions could include postseason bans and the vacation of victories, including, potentially, at least one national championship in men’s basketball. More benign penalties could include probation and a fine.

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

This is a breaking news report. It will be updated.

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