University of North Carolina Athletics’ Academic Misconduct

The University of North Carolina has filed a response to the accusations leveled against it by the NCAA over the investigation of the school’s football program. UNC had 90 days to draft its response after being served the NCAA’s notice of allegations, and yesterday it posted a redacted version of the letter it sent to the NCAA on its website. According to ESPN, allegations against the school include failure to monitor the program sufficiently, academic improprieties, and offers of financial benefits to players.

The scandal that has hovered over the school for 14 months included an assistant coach receiving personal loans from an NFL agent, players receiving jewelry and other gifts from people outside the program, and a tutor providing improper help to players on term papers.

The university has already taken some corrective steps in the year since the scandal first broke.

Fourteen players missed at least one game and seven were forced to sit the entire season, with four of those either dismissed from the team or ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA.

In the letter UNC outlines additional self-imposed penalties they’ve assigned to the football program that they plan to put into effect starting this year. StateFansNation.com writes that the university will vacate all victories from the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and cut three football scholarships over the next three years. UNC will also pay a $50,000 fine. The program will also serve out a two-year probation but will not impose a post-season ban. These penalties are in addition to penalties that might be handed down by the NCAA.

After analyzing UNC’s response letter, StateFanNation concluded that although the university’s stance is that it takes responsibility for the violations, its admissions are not in good faith. Rather than accept fault, the language used in the letter attempts to mitigate the school’s culpability and minimize the scope of its oversight failure. Even as UNC admits to each NCAA allegation, it dismisses the incidents as “one-off” occurrences that were perpetrated by a few “bad-apple” employees:

When speaking about the tutor (page I-3), the university claims to have looked into other sports, redacts a couple of lines, then says they found no evidence of cheating with the other sports, but did admit that she “edit papers the student athletes sent her – correcting spelling and grammar mistakes and adding a few sentences.” UNC claims that the joint investigation into the tutor showed nothing went to sports other than football.

The fallout from the scandal has already claimed the jobs of the UNC head coach Butch Davis and the associate head coach John Blake. Although no accusations of wrong-doing were ever leveled or proved against Davis, Blake plays a central part in the scandal as it is alleged that he steered the program’s football players to his friend Gary Wichard’s talent management agency.