NCAA lawyers seek to dismiss lawsuit by former UNC football player McAdoo

acarter@newsobserver.comJuly 9, 2012

Lawyers representing the NCAA have filed a brief supporting the dismissal of the lawsuit that former North Carolina football player Michael McAdoo filed after the NCAA ruled him permanently ineligible amid the university’s multi-faceted NCAA investigation.

Seeking the restoration of his eligibility and monetary damages, McAdoo in July 2011 sued the NCAA, UNC and university chancellor Holden Thorp. Orlando Hudson, a Durham County Superior Court judge, dismissed the lawsuit in November 2011, but McAdoo took his case to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

The brief the NCAA’s lawyers filed on Monday urges the appeals court to uphold Hudson’s ruling for several reasons, among them that McAdoo’s claims for monetary damages were too speculative and that McAdoo’s complaints are moot because he has signed a professional contract with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

Noah Huffstetler, the lawyer who represents McAdoo, did not return a phone call and email seeking comment on Monday night. After Hudson dismissed McAdoo’s case in November, Huffstetler said McAdoo wanted to continue to pursue his lawsuit in hopes that he could set a legal precedent that could help college athletes.

“(McAdoo’s) feeling, and that of his family, is that athletes that were in his position don’t have very much in the way of protection,” Huffstetler said then. “And when there is an NCAA investigation into the university (athletes) sometimes get caught between two large and powerful institutions that are working through a problem.”

McAdoo was one of seven UNC players who missed the entire 2010 season while serving suspensions amid the NCAA’s probe into academic fraud and impermissible benefits. Fourteen players served suspensions of at least one game that season, and the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions punished UNC in March with a one-year postseason ban in football, among other penalties.

UNC initially reported to the NCAA three academic violations involving McAdoo. The university’s honor court, though, later found McAdoo guilty of only one of the violations. McAdoo was found to have plagiarized a 21-page paper he wrote for a Swahili class taught by Julius Nyang’oro, the former chairman of UNC’s African and Afro-American Studies department.

Nyang’oro didn’t catch the plagiarism, nor did UNC officials. The plagiarism became evident only after Huffstetler included it in court papers when McAdoo sued. After McAdoo’s term paper became public record, N.C. State fans on a popular Internet forum ran it through programs designed to find plagiarism.

Nyang’oro, who has since been forced to resign, is a central figure in UNC’s internal investigation into improprieties within the African and Afro-American Studies department. The university’s investigation, which concluded in May, identified 54 suspect classes over a range of years, many of them filled with athletes.

Meanwhile, after losing his eligibility, McAdoo entered the NFL’s supplemental draft and signed as a free agent with the Ravens in August, 2011. He is on the team’s injured reserve list after suffering a knee injury, and he will miss the 2012 season.

Carter: 919-829-8944