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Monday November 29th

UNC challenges Notice of Allegations in response to NCAA

The University disagreed in part with three of the five allegations brought by the NCAA in April

The University disagreed in part with three of the five allegations brought by the NCAA in April

UPDATE 4 p.m.: Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham reaffirmed UNC’s challenge to the NCAA’s amended Notice of Allegations in a press conference scheduled minutes after the University’s response was publicly released.

Cunningham said that while anomalous courses might not have met the school’s normal standards, it didn’t necessarily constitute a violation.

In its response to the NCAA, the University argued that matters of academic irregularities are subject to review by the Southern Association of Colleges and School — but not within the jurisdiction of the NCAA.

“Every time we look at the rule of the NCAA relative to academics, they stay out of it,” Cunningham said. “(Faculty athletic representatives) don’t want NCAA in the classroom, and I think they shouldn’t.”

UNC also rebutted the charge of a level-one violation in failure to monitor the academic department, arguing that nothing more than a level-two violation was committed. The University also claimed these academic failures affected the entire student body and accused the NCAA of acting beyond its jurisdiction.

“I would say that we failed to monitor Jan Boxill appropriately,” Cunningham said. “But we don’t think we have failed to monitor academic support for student athletes in totality.”

Cunningham reiterated UNC’s claim that Boxill — who was accused of 18 instances of providing extra benefits — did not knowingly violate any bylaws with her academic assistance, arguing such actions without “willful” intent are no worse than secondary violations.

Because the NCAA’s accusation of lack of institutional control was contingent on other level-one violations, ones that the University barred entirely, Cunningham dismissed the legitimacy of the NCAA’s harshest allegation.

“You have lack of institutional control if there are substantive violations in specific areas,” he said. “And we do not see that in this case.”

In addition, UNC argued in its response that because the allegations occurred before June 30, 2010 — four years before receiving a Notice of Inquiry — the NCAA violated its four-year statute of limitations bylaw.

And while the University admits to “grave” academic irregularities, Cunningham argued the NCAA is acting unjustly in penalizing the school for these wrongdoings.

“We have accepted responsibility as a University for what happened and we have apologized,” he said.

Once the NCAA responds, UNC will go before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and await a final verdict.

2 p.m.: Two notices and 439 days later, UNC has responded to allegations of severe breaches of conduct related to its academic-athletic scandal.

On Tuesday, the University publicly released its response to an amended version of the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations. In the response, the University argued three of the five level-one violations brought forth by the NCAA should not be treated as such. The response also outlines under NCAA bylaws there should be a statute of limitations set on certain aspects of the investigation.

The amended NOA, sent to the University on April 25, followed an investigation conducted jointly by the NCAA and UNC. In its response, the school was instructed to indicate whether the allegations were “substantially correct” and provide any additional pertinent information.

The most recent notice heavily cites Jan Boxill — a former philosophy professor, academic counselor for women’s basketball and director of the Parr Center for Ethics — for unethical conduct, alleging her of 18 specific accounts of providing impermissible academic assistance to women’s basketball players.

Both notices list five level-one violations — the most severe infraction under NCAA bylaws — including lack of institutional control regarding Boxill’s interactions with members of the women’s basketball team.

But the differences between the original NOA and its amended version loom large.

In May 2015, the NCAA alleged numerous athletics academics counselors of granting “impermissible benefits” to student-athletes — particularly those on the football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams — and cites evidence from independent investigator Kenneth Wainstein’s report from October 2014

But after sending an amended NOA in April, the NCAA omitted any reference to football or men’s basketball — instead focusing its attention on Boxill, alleging her of “impermissible academic assistance.” The notice also adjusts the timeline for the improprieties, pushing the start date of the allegations from 2002 to 2005.

The NCAA illustrated the impermissible benefits through what it deemed “anomalous” courses in the original NOA, highlighting the artificially high grades and low attendance standards of these classes.

However, the amended NOA did not adjudicate the rigor of these classes, instead focusing on how the independent study courses were presented as lecture courses.

Bubba Cunningham, director of athletics, said in April that the “NCAA decided what broke a bylaw and what didn’t.”

The NCAA declined to comment for this story.

UNC sent its response to the NCAA on Monday — more than a week after the 90-day deadline for responding to the revised allegations. On July 22, the University announced it was granted a stay for responding.

The University was set to respond to the original NOA a year ago before self-reporting two new violations four days before the 90-day deadline — prompting the NCAA to extend the deadline and ultimately amend its original notice.

The first violation involved improper academic benefits given to former women’s basketball players, which resembled allegations from the original NOA. The second finding stemmed from potential recruiting violations over the past two years by the men’s soccer team — which was not mentioned in the amended NOA.

UNC’s established history of self-reporting secondary violations could prove beneficial when it goes before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.

But previous major violations and the scope and severity of the allegations are deemed potential aggravating factors in the University’s case.

The NCAA is required to submit its reply by Sept. 30 — 60 days after UNC’s response — but any penalties levied on the University aren’t expected until months later.


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