Tudor: Tough NCAA punishment, but it could have been worse

March 12, 2012 

UNC’s football program was handed a significant punishment from the NCAA Monday, but the timing of the announcement was favorable for the Tar Heels.

The NCAA put a 2012 bowl ban (and possible ACC title game) on Carolina.

But by waiting until after the Feb. 1 scholarship signing date to issue the bowl ruling, the NCAA’s bowl ban didn’t hurt Carolina’s recruiting this year. Had the ban been announced in January or earlier, it’s possible some of the signees might have gone elsewhere.

Players who sign with the Tar Heels in February of 2013 won’t have to deal with the bowl ban.

But there was give and take in the NCAA ruling. Whereas UNC wanted to surrender nine scholarships over three years beginning in 2013, the NCAA increased that number to 15 over three years.

That aspect of the punishment will put a good deal of pressure on new coach Larry Fedora and his staff to be very selective in recruiting.

UNC usually gets its share of talented walk-ons – by ACC standards – but not enough to counter the 15 missed scholarship players. If several recruiting misjudgments occur during the three-year period, the scholarship reduction could cut deeply depth and talent level.

The scholarship punishment also means regional rivals could win up with 15 UNC recruiting targets while warning all recruits that they could be playing on undermanned teams if they sign with Carolina during the three-year period.

Sixteen wins have been vacated, but that sort of reprimand doesn’t carry much weight.

Perhaps the most important retribution of all is the damage done to UNC’s image and reputation.

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