UNC declares Jones ineligible for bowl, but appeals to NCAA

School declares receiver ineligible for bowl, but appeals to NCAA to let him play

acarter@newsobserver.comDecember 21, 2011 

The University of North Carolina on Tuesday declared senior Dwight Jones ineligible for the Independence Bowl after determining he allowed his name and image to be used to promote a New Year's Eve party in Burlington, his hometown.

NCAA rules prohibit college athletes from using their name or image to promote an off-campus business or for-profit entity and treats such incidents as secondary violations.

North Carolina has applied to the NCAA for Jones' reinstatement for the Dec. 26 bowl against Missouri.

North Carolina's leading receiver this season, Jones permitted his name and image to be used in fliers promoting a birthday party in his honor, according to a university release.

In a statement released by the university, Jones apologized and said the party has been canceled.

"I apologize to my teammates, the coaching staff, and the university for the poor decision I made to allow my likeness to be used in the promotion of a party given by a family member while still a part of the Carolina football team," Jones said in the release. "I should have asked the coaching staff or administration before allowing this to happen."

According to the flier prominently featuring Jones, which was posted online Monday on the Deadspin sports blog, the party had been scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. at the 778 Sports Bar and Lounge in Burlington. The flier advertised a $10 entry for the party - $20 for VIP treatment - but promised free admission, paid for by Jones, for the "first 24 ladies" to show up.

"D Jones will be giving some lucky ladies in the building up to (a) $500 cash giveaway," the flier read.

A picture of Jones appeared on the flier, surrounded by a gold throne, which was in turn surrounded by $100 bills.

"Coach (Everett) Withers and I met, and Dwight realizes he made a mistake," athletics director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. "Dwight has cancelled the party and we have submitted a reinstatement request with the NCAA."

North Carolina will leave Thursday for Shreveport, La., to begin on-site preparations for the Independence Bowl. It's likely the NCAA will notify the university of Jones' status for the game before the team departs for Louisiana.

Efforts to reach an NCAA spokesperson for comment were unsuccessful.

Jones' ineligibility comes at a time when North Carolina is attempting to put its NCAA issues in the past.

After appearing in October in Indianapolis before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, UNC officials are now awaiting word from the NCAA about what additional sanctions might await the university in the wake of an NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits and academic fraud within the football program.

The NCAA launched its impermissible benefits investigation in the summer of 2010 after Marvin Austin, a former Tar Heels defensive end, posted on Twitter about a trip to Miami Beach, where he wrote of shopping sprees and parties.

Eventually, the NCAA levied a "failure to monitor social media" charge against UNC in its Notice of Allegations.

The loss of Jones would be a blow for the Tar Heels in their bowl matchup against Missouri. He caught 79 passes for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

"I'm sorry for being a distraction to our team," Jones said in the statement. "And taking the focus away from our preparation for the Independence Bowl."

Carter: 919-829-8944

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