The NCAA will require University of North Carolina starting defensive backs Kendric Burney and Deunta Williams to repay benefits and serve suspensions, the school announced Wednesday.
Burney must sit out six games and Williams four games after being ruled in violation of NCAA agent benefits and preferential treatment rules, according to a school news release.
North Carolina will appeal the length of the suspensions.
The violations occurred when Burney took trips to Atlanta, Las Vegas and California and Williams made two trips to California. Although both players paid for part of their travel expenses, the NCAA has ruled that there are still benefits they must repay.
Burney received $1,333 in benefits and must repay $575.19 to a charity of his choice in order to regain eligibility.
Williams received $1,426 in benefits and must repay $450.67 to charity.
Both players already have sat out two games, which will be applied toward their suspensions. Williams could return on Oct. 9 against Clemson and Burney could play on Oct. 23 against Miami.
Neither player was made available for comment.
"While I respect the NCAA process, I believe the penalties to be unduly harsh given the individual circumstances in these cases," North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour said in a statement.
Players on the UNC football team have been under investigation for possible improper benefits from sports agents and possible academic misconduct since late June.
Thirteen Tar Heels were originally ruled ineligible or were withheld from UNC's season opener against LSU on Sept. 4. On Monday, running back Shaun Draughn was reinstated. Ten players still await resolution.
Burney's father, Tyrone Burney, said trips taken with former UNC player Chris Hawkins led to Burney's suspension. Tyrone Burney said his son took trips to Atlanta and Las Vegas with Hawkins. Burney met Hawkins through another former UNC player, Willie Parker, about five years ago, Tyrone Burney said.
Hawkins recently was ruled an agent by the NCAA after buying a jersey from Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green for $1,000. Green was suspended four games. Hawkins said he is not an agent but has acknowledged screening potential agents for UNC players.
The NCAA defines an agent as any individual who markets or promotes a student-athlete.
"I didn't know the NCAA considered Hawk an agent-slash-runner," Tyrone Burney said Wednesday night. "If I did, I would have put my foot down with Kendric before any of this happened."
Burney said he paid for the airfare for his son's trip to Las Vegas and other traveling expenses for the trips to Vegas and Atlanta. The amount the NCAA said Kendric Burney has to pay back, his father said, was for a hotel room in Vegas, a hotel room in Atlanta and gas expenses to Atlanta.
"Money wasn't the issue," Tyrone Burney said. "It seems they're holding him accountable for the friendship with Hawk."
Tyrone Burney said his son told him the trips were to have fun, not to meet with potential agents. He said his son knew about a Memorial Day trip to Miami that cost Alabama's Marcell Dareus two games, and was attended by UNC's Marvin Austin and Greg Little, but knew there would be agents there.
"That's exactly the type of thing he was trying to avoid," Burney said. "That's the reason he did not go on the Miami trip because he heard what was going on there."
Hawkins said Wednesday night that he didn't pay for the trips to Atlanta and Las Vegas and called Burney's suspension "totally wrong."
"There's no proof or anything that I paid for them because I didn't pay for any of their stuff," Hawkins said in a telephone interview. "I don't understand why they would hit the kid so hard for taking a trip to Atlanta and Vegas."
Baddour said in a telephone interview that on the California trips, the players visited a former North Carolina defensive back (not Hawkins) who they met at Sutton's Drugstore, a restaurant in Chapel Hill.
Baddour said he doesn't have permission to use the former player's name.
"He's in sales out in California, and he encouraged the guys to come out, because he wanted to be supportive ... but he doesn't have the resources to pay for anybody's expenses out there," Baddour said.
Baddour said that he could not say when the trips took place, "but in both situations, the expenses were understood to be the responsibility of the student-athletes. And the student-athletes paid the expenses while they were out there."
The NCAA, however, determined not all the expenses were paid - thus, the amount ordered for the player to pay to charities.
Asked when the appeal would take place, Baddour said, "In order for it to be effective, it's got to be soon. We're ready to move as quickly as possible, and we'll be working for the NCAA as soon as possible."
Baddour said he did not know about Burney's or Williams' trips to California before the broader NCAA investigation, which still has 10 other Tar Heels either declared ineligible or withheld from playing in games until their status is determined. Baddour said that Burney and Williams were the only two who had taken trips to California in order to visit the former UNC defensive back.
Asked where the things stand for the rest of the players under investigation, Baddour said: "We are pushing forward in the process, but my message in the last few weeks that has been that it's individually based, and it's hard to predict in each situation how things are going to play out on either prong [of the investigation]. I feel like we are pushing very hard, pushing hard for resolution. We understand people's interest and frustration, and we are doing everything we can."
In an e-mail message, NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn wrote that the NCAA currently does not have any outstanding reinstatement requests for North Carolina football players other than Burney and Williams.
Osburn wrote that she does not have an appeal date to share, but the committee is sensitive and wants to be as expedient and thorough as possible.
Burney, who plays cornerback, and Williams, a safety, both were first-team All-ACC selections in 2009.
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