North Carolina

UNC academic fraud case referenced by Notre Dame president criticizing NCAA

In this April 15, 2014, file photo, Notre Dame University President John Jenkins speaks in South Bend, Ind. The NCAA has denied Notre Dame's appeal of a decision to vacate 21 victories because of academic misconduct. In a letter to Notre Dame alumni, Jenkins criticized the decision. He called the ruling unfair, referencing the recent North Carolina case in which the NCAA did not punish the school after an investigation of athletes taking irregular courses. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)
In this April 15, 2014, file photo, Notre Dame University President John Jenkins speaks in South Bend, Ind. The NCAA has denied Notre Dame's appeal of a decision to vacate 21 victories because of academic misconduct. In a letter to Notre Dame alumni, Jenkins criticized the decision. He called the ruling unfair, referencing the recent North Carolina case in which the NCAA did not punish the school after an investigation of athletes taking irregular courses. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File) AP

Notre Dame’s president isn’t happy with the NCAA and referenced the UNC academic fraud case in criticizing a decision to deny the school’s appeal to restore 21 vacated football victories.

Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins, in a letter to alumni, said the ruling was unfair compared to the North Carolina case. The NCAA did not punish UNC after investigations of athletes taking no-show or low-work courses.

Jenkins did not name UNC directly.

In the letter he brought up a “recent high profile academic misconduct case in which the NCAA Committee on Infractions chair explained that even though certain classes ‘more likely than not’ were used to keep athletes eligible with fraudulent credits, the legitimacy of those classes was beyond the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s enforcement process precisely because that question must be left to the determination of the university in the exercise of its academic autonomy. The notion that a university’s exercise of academic autonomy can under NCAA rules lead to exoneration – or to a severe penalty – without regard to the way in which it is used defies logic and any notion of fundamental fairness.”

The NCAA denied the appeal, taking away 12 wins from the Fighting Irish’s 2012 trip to the national championship game.

Notre Dame only appealed the penalty that vacated victories, choosing to accept certain NCAA findings and acknowledge cheating of several football players and a student athletic trainer.

Jenkins said in retrospect Notre Dame could have taken steps to avoid penalties. He said if the school had expelled the students, developed a statute of limitations for past offenses or chosen not to punish the students, the NCAA wouldn’t have imposed penalties.

“The NCAA has not chosen to ignore academic autonomy; it has instead perverted it by divorcing it from its logical and necessary connection to the underlying educational purpose,” he said.

Sam Newkirk: 919-829-4526, @samnewkirk64

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