UNC coach Larry Fedora prepared for negative recruiting amid NCAA return
07/22/2014 10:00 AM
07/22/2014 12:19 AM
What's old is new again. And not necessarily pleasant for North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, who really did believe that he'd experienced the last of an NCAA investigative process.
Not so, it turns out. Fedora on Monday at the ACC Kickoff said he was disappointed by the NCAA's decision to reopen its investigation into academic misconduct at UNC, but not because he's worried about possible consequences for the football program.
No, the start – or the continuation – of another investigation means that Fedora will have to fend off rumors and speculation from opposing coaches who will use the investigation to attempt to scare potential recruits away from UNC.
“That's where it hits you the hardest,” Fedora said, “is because the other schools, that's what they're using when they're recruiting against you.”
Fedora has dealt with this before. He encountered similar challenges when he first arrived at UNC nearly three years ago. Then, the school was still awaiting the NCAA's verdict on a case that focused on impermissible benefits and academic fraud within the football program.
The new investigation is focusing on suspect African Studies classes and their relationship to athletics. Fedora expressed confidence on Monday that the football program wouldn't be a part of the investigation.
Even so, he said, the NCAA “coming back in has opened up the door for all that (speculation) to come back.”
UNC's 2015 recruiting class ranks 15th nationally, according to Rivals.com. Fedora said he spoke with recruits when the NCAA first announced that it would reopen its investigation.
“We addressed it from the very first day it happened and we haven't talked about it since, actually, with any of them,” Fedora said. “And none of them have really ever asked again.”
You can bet, though, that other coaches from other programs are bringing it up to players UNC is recruiting. More than two years ago, while waiting for the original NCAA final verdict, Fedora said some programs were telling UNC recruits that UNC might be subject to the NCAA “death penalty.”
Whatever such a thing would look like these days. The “death penalty,” as it's come to be known, has been handed out exactly once, and not since it effectively ruined the Southern Methodist football program after its corrupt heyday in the early-to-mid 1980s. So no, no death penalty for UNC.
But that was an example of the kind of crazy talk UNC recruits endured, according to Fedora. Who knows what they'll be hearing this time around.
One thing Fedora never wanted to hear: That the NCAA would be coming back. He's used to it, though.
“Since the day we stepped on campus it hasn't stopped,” Fedora said. “And until all of that's behind us, it's not going to stop.”