After the season ended with a disappointing 35-7 loss against N.C. State on Saturday, North Carolina is not considering the thought of declining a bowl bid, athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a text message Sunday.
The question of whether the Tar Heels might consider declining an invitation to a bowl had been raised in recent weeks amid a mediocre season and the NCAA’s continuing investigation into how athletes benefited from no-show paper classes in the African Studies department.
Schools under NCAA investigations sometimes self-impose a bowl ban to avoid further sanctions. Miami self-imposed two bowl bans in 2011 and 2012. UNC’s football program was sanctioned in 2012 after the original NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits and academic fraud.
UNC coach Larry Fedora has said this season he’s not concerned that the football program would be subject to additional sanctions from the NCAA’s reopening of the case. Had UNC declined an invitation to a bowl game in 2011, it likely would have been eligible for the postseason in 2012, when by virtue of a tiebreaker it would have finished in first place in the ACC’s Coastal Division.
Instead, though, the Tar Heels in 2011 played in the sparsely-attended Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., where they endured a lopsided defeat against Missouri. The next season, in 2012, UNC stayed home while it would have played in the ACC championship game had it been eligible.
After finishing the regular season 6-6, a return to Shreveport is a possibility for this UNC team.