Two new potential infractions stall UNC's response to NCAA

UNC has uncovered two new pieces of information which will require further review from the NCAA.

The first piece of new information involves improper academic benefits given to former members of the women's basketball team, which is in line with the allegations from the NCAA's notice of allegations. The second piece relates to potential recruiting violations in the men's soccer program that allegedly occurred over the past two years. This information was not mentioned in the NCAA's notice. 

The University reported this new information to the NCAA on Aug. 10, Bubba Cunningham said on a conference call Friday, and the University learned on Friday that the NCAA would extend the response deadline for the investigation of these issues.

The deadline for the University to respond to the notice would have been Tuesday, 90 days after they received the notice in May. Cunningham said he didn't think the University would need more than 60 more days to deal with the new information.

When the University submits its response in October, the NCAA will decide whether to amend its notice of allegations. If the notice is amended, the University will then have 90 more days to submit a new response to the amended notice.

At a faculty athletics committee meeting Thursday, Cunningham did not mention the new pieces of information during a presentation on the notice of allegations despite having reported it to the NCAA two days earlier. On Thursday, he said UNC's hearing with the NCAA committee on infractions would most likely take place at the end of 2015.

In Friday's conference call, Cunningham responded to a question about the timeline by saying he didn't know "if we ever speculated on a specific date for our meeting with the committee on infractions."

Infractions involving the women's basketball team are extensively discussed in independent investigator Kenneth Wainstein's October 2014 report, but the men's soccer team is not mentioned in the Wainstein report.

The women's basketball program was targeted by the notice from the NCAA, which alleges that from April 2007 to July 2010, former faculty chairwoman and women's basketball tutor Jan Boxill "knowingly provided extra benefits in the form of impermissible academic assistance and special arrangements to women's basketball student-athletes."

Cunningham said the new information on women's basketball is similar to what's in the notice.

The NCAA’s notice specifically alleges Boxill edited athletes’ papers for Department of African and Afro-American Studies classes.

On Jul. 22, 2010, the notice alleges she turned in an athlete’s paper for an African studies class and, “in the same email containing the paper, recommended a grade to the department for the submitted work.”

Similarly, the Wainstein report said Boxill wrote parts of players' papers and suggested grades to Deborah Crowder, who ran a two-decades-long paper class scheme with former department chairman Julius Nyang'oro.

Boxill, who was also director of UNC's Parr Center for Ethics until days after the release of the Wainstein report, resigned from the University in a letter to Provost Jim Dean on Feb. 28.

Cunningham said the men’s soccer recruiting issues were discovered after a coach failed a question in a routine compliance test. The coach, according to Cunningham, misunderstood the nature of the rule in question and UNC subsequently self-reported the violations.

"I feel reasonably good that the system somewhat worked," Cunningham said. "I'm very disappointed in the timing."

"We strive to run a program that abides by all University and NCAA regulations," said UNC men's soccer coach Carlos Somoano in a statement. "However, our coaching staff unknowingly made a mistake, and I immediately notified our compliance office.

"I would like to discuss specifics of the alleged violations, but I am bound by confidentiality rules that apply during an active NCAA investigation. My staff and I will cooperate completely with the University and the NCAA. I can say that the investigation does not affect our current or former players on the men’s soccer team."

In the notice of allegations, the North Carolina women’s basketball team was shown to be heavily involved in the athletic-academic scandal.

The NCAA enforcement staff alleged Boxill provided players with impermissible academic assistance and benefits. She is the only person who worked directly with a team to be charged with a violation in the notice of allegations.

Boxill did not respond to requests for comment.

This summer, the final three members of the women’s basketball team’s 2013 recruiting class transferred. Guards Jessica Washington and Allisha Gray as well forward Stephanie Mavunga opted to leave the team amid the NCAA investigation.

Along with guard Diamond DeShields, who transferred to Tennessee after her freshman season, UNC’s 2013 recruiting class was the top-ranked class in the country.

All four players as well as Coach Sylvia Hatchell have not responded to requests for comment.

university@dailytarheel.com

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