UNC officials and coaches arrive for NCAA hearing
The NCAA’s final investigative report in the long-running UNC-Chapel Hill case will not be released on Friday, as was originally intended, the university announced on Thursday.
Parties associated with the investigation received notice on Thursday morning that the NCAA Committee on Infractions planned to release its final report, which will include penalties, on Friday at noon, according to a source with knowledge of the case.
Based on the source’s report that an email had been sent out by the NCAA, The News & Observer tweeted on Thursday morning that the ruling was expected to be released on Friday.
Hours after the NCAA sent that email, though, the university announced that the NCAA’s final report would not be released on Friday due to “scheduling circumstances.” UNC on Friday is set to announce a multibillion-dollar fundraising campaign, and campus events are scheduled throughout the weekend.
“Due to scheduling circumstances, there will be no release (on Friday) regarding the NCAA Committee on Infractions decision,” Joel Curran, UNC’s vice chancellor of communications, said in a statement. “We have not yet received the Committee’s public infractions report. We anticipate we will be informed 24 hours prior to the actual release at a later date.”
Institutions under major NCAA investigation are notified 24 hours before the NCAA Committee on Infractions intends to release its final investigative report. Though schools receive a day’s notice that the report is coming, they might not receive a copy of the report until the morning before it is released.
That the NCAA intended to release its findings on Friday indicates that the infractions committee completed its work sooner than anticipated. The standard length of time for the committee to release its findings is between eight to 12 weeks; UNC appeared before the committee about seven weeks ago.
That appearance, in Nashville, Tenn., spanned two days. University officials, including chancellor Carol Folt and athletic director Bubba Cunningham, attended the hearing, which lasted approximately 15 hours. UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams attended the hearing for both days, as did women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell. Larry Fedora, the football coach, attended the first day.
The NCAA’s investigation has focused on how bogus African Studies courses helped UNC athletes maintain their eligibility. The classes existed for 18 years, from 1993 through 2011, but the NCAA investigation has focused on half that time – from 2002 through 2011.
UNC is facing five Level I allegations – the most serious the NCAA can levy. Among those allegations are a lack of institutional control, and that the university’s athletic department conspired to provide athletes impermissible benefits in the form of access to the courses at the heart of the investigation.
The case has been marked by several unusual delays. The NCAA issued its first Notice of Allegations in May 2015, before UNC provided the NCAA with new information that halted the case. The NCAA then issued a second NOA in April 2016.
The case then appeared headed for a date with the infractions committee, but a procedural hearing with members of that committee brought another delay. The NCAA issued a third NOA last December, and the case finally went before the infractions committee in August.
The penalties that UNC is facing have remained uncertain. At their most severe, the sanctions could include postseason bans and the vacation of victories, including, potentially, at least one national championship in men’s basketball. More benign penalties could include probation and a fine.