The University said this morning that 12 to 15 football players won’t make Saturday’s game as part of the University and the NCAA’s ongoing investigation of the football program. In total, UNC will be without six to nine of its defensive starters and two starters on offense.
Six of these players will not make the trip to Atlanta because they have been deemed ineligible for violating school and/or NCAA rules. This group includes defensive linemen Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn, the team’s leading receiver Greg Little, starting cornerbacks Kendric Burney and Charles Brown and starting defensive end Michael McAdoo.
The team’s leading rushers Ryan Houston and Shaun Draughn will also be withheld from the game. Also not playing are starting safety Da’Norris Searcy, defensive end Linwan Euwell, and safeties Brian Gupton and Jonathan Smith.
Three more starters — linebackers Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant and safety Deunta Williams — did not board the team bus this morning. The University is currently working with the NCAA to determine their eligibility status.
“We’re obviously very disappointed to learn that the actions of a number of our student athletes have resulted in their being unable to compete in Saturday’s game,” athletic director Dick Baddour said.
“The investigation now has two prongs, so I want to caution you against making assumptions if student-athletes don’t play,” Baddour said at an Aug. 26 press conference announcing the University’s investigation of possible academic misconduct.
UNC will be without six of the starters on a defense that finished last season ranked sixth in the nation in total defense. If Sturdivant and Carter can’t play, UNC will be without two key members of its linebacking unit.
The loss of Little, Houston and Draughn on offense will put pressure on senior quarterback T.J. Yates.
“We are disappointed the players’ choices have denied them the opportunity to compete alongside their teammates and represent the University of North Carolina,” coach Butch Davis said in a statement. “Our coaches and players have a tremendous challenge this weekend, and despite these circumstances, our team will be excited to face LSU.”
“Moving forward, Dick Baddour, Butch Davis and I are determined to use this as an opportunity to look hard at our programs, resources and people to ensure that everyone associated with the football program upholds the values that are central to Carolina’s culture, most especially our academic values,” Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a news release.
Sports Editor Jonathan Jones contributed reporting to this story.
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