North Carolina senior Kendric Burney will make his season debut on Saturday after missing seven games and after the resolution of complicated academic issue.
The NCAA suspended Burney, an All-ACC cornerback, for the first six games of the season for accepting improper agent-related benefits. Burney was held out of last Saturday's loss at Miami while the university, the university's honor court and the NCAA ironed out a detail in Burney's academic record, his father said.
"After he went through the honor court, there was a miscommunication," Tyrone Burney said. "We're definitely relieved that this has been resolved, and we are anxious to see Kendric out there on Saturday."
Tyrone Burney said his son was cleared by the university's honor court on Oct. 19. Burney had a grade in writing class from a previous semester - a core class necessary for Burney to graduate - changed by a half of a letter grade.
Burney did not fail the disputed class, which resulted in his appearance before the honor court, his father said. The grade was changed from a "C" to a "C-minus," his father said. Under university policy, Burney needed a "C" in the core class to graduate.
The change in grade affected Burney's academic standing with the NCAA. The NCAA requires athletes to carry a minimum of 12 credit hours, unless as a senior they need fewer hours to graduate.
Burney was on track to graduate in December, his father said, and is taking one class, or three credit hours, this semester. Since the grade was changed in the core class, Burney needs six hours to graduate. Under NCAA rules, he needs to be enrolled in six hours or receive a waiver from the NCAA to participate.
Burney received the waiver and the school announced his return on Tuesday.
Burney, a fifth-year senior, will have to re-take the class in the spring to graduate, his father said.
Burney, from Jacksonville, finished 2009 with five interceptions and 52 tackles. He had started 38 straight games before being suspended by the NCAA.
Before the season started, Burney took trips to Atlanta and Las Vegas with former UNC player Chris Hawkins, his father has said previously. The NCAA defined Hawkins as an agent in both Burney's case and the suspension of Georgia receiver A.J. Green earlier this season.
The NCAA ruled on Sept. 22 that Burney received $1,333 in benefits on the trips from this offseason and a trip from two years ago to California to visit former UNC player Omar Brown and was ordered to repay $575.19 to charity.
Burney is one of nine UNC players who has not played in a game this season because of the agent-related and academic-related investigations.
He is the sixth UNC player, out of the 13 who were either held out of or suspended from the season-opener on Sept. 4, to be cleared to return. The only two players whose playing status remains unresolved are defensive end Michael McAdoo and fullback Devon Ramsay.
UNC (4-3) plays William & Mary on Saturday at Kenan Stadium. The Heels had three defensive backs injured in the Miami loss last Saturday so Burney's return is timely.
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