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Faculty react to NCAA sanctions, look to the future

When the end result of a two-year-long NCAA investigation came Monday, some faculty members were relieved.

But that feeling was diminished by the severity of the punishments.

Steve Reznick, chairman of the faculty athletics committee, said he thought the NCAA sanctions went too far, targeting those who had not been involved with UNC athletics when the infractions took place.

“I feel it was too harsh, because I feel like our self-imposed stipulations were very reasonable,” he said. “Adding additional stipulations at this point is essentially punishing people who didn’t do anything wrong.”

Reznick said changes to UNC athletics throughout the last two years have held those accountable for transgressions and replaced others.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham and head football coach Larry Fedora — two of the people most affected by the sanctions — replaced Dick Baddour and Butch Davis, respectively, as a direct result of the NCAA investigation.

“We have made a lot of changes to deal with this and decrease the chances that it will happen again,” Reznick said.

The NCAA mandated Monday that UNC football receive a 2012 postseason ban and a reduction of 15 scholarships, while UNC athletics as a whole will be placed on three years probation.

Despite Reznick’s concerns regarding the punishment, other faculty members were more optimistic.

Jay Smith, associate chairman of the history department, said he hoped the sanctions would help prevent further abuses in the athletics program.

“I’m sure that the whole process has made the staff more alert to the problems and more vigilant about our responsibilities,” he said.

Last month, Smith helped draft a statement from an informal group of faculty that called for changes to UNC athletics, including institutional openness, educational responsibility and mission consistency.

Smith said he hoped the probationary period will serve to stimulate further discussion about what the future of UNC athletics should be.

“The probationary period can be used for all sorts of things — there is no reason it can’t be used productively,” he said.

“I would hope that the seriousness of the sanctions would inspire widespread soul searching.”

Smith said his group of faculty will ensure that members keep talking about the direction of athletics in light of the NCAA verdict.

Cunningham said he thought the sanctions went above and beyond the measures that UNC had self-imposed, but the focus will now be toward moving on.

“I think the impact will be our attitude,” he said.

“If we take it positively, make the corrections internally that we need to make and face the situation with enthusiasm and optimism, which I know the coaches will do, then we’ll be fine.”

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