During his national signing day press conference last year, in Feb. 2015, North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora sounded exasperated by the continued uncertainty surrounding the long-running NCAA infractions case at UNC.
He said then that he and his staff had to address questions about the case “on a daily basis.”
“When you feel like you’ve got things calmed down and somebody else makes up something else and tells a kid and his family (something) so then you have to, you obviously have to address it and put that fire out so they know the truth,” Fedora said last year. “It’s something that’s going to continue to happen until we get it all straightened out.”
The case hasn’t been straightened out. Not exactly, anyway.
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But Fedora said on Wednesday during his annual signing day press conference that the unresolved NCAA case had much less of an effect on recruiting than it has in years past.
“I really believe that cloud that’s been hanging over our head for the previous four years (has) dissipated,” Fedora said. “... It’s not there. It’s not like it was.”
It appears likely that the NCAA case won’t conclude until sometime in the fall, at the earliest. UNC continues to await an amended Notice of Allegations (NOA) from the NCAA after the university provided new information, mostly related to women’s basketball, to the NCAA in August.
When UNC receives its amended NOA, it will have another 90 days to respond to it. The university was close to the end of the 90-day response cycle after it received its first NOA, and then UNC turned over that new information to the NCAA.
Whenever UNC receives the amended NOA, it’s unclear whether the university would need another full 90 days to respond. History, though, provides proof that nothing has moved quickly with this case.
When UNC does respond to the amended NOA, whenever it arrives, the NCAA would then take time to issue a response to the response. In the process, it would set a date for UNC to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
After that happens, it could be another two or three months, or more, before the infractions committee issues a final ruling in the case. In other words: A resolution is still a long ways off.
Throughout the entire ordeal, though, Fedora has expressed confidence that his program won’t be affected by any sanctions. The UNC football program was already penalized in March 2012 after a separate NCAA investigation that began years before Fedora arrived on campus.
Fedora never anticipated that he’d still be answering questions about the NCAA more than four years after his arrival, but that’s his reality. And yet he senses an end point, even though the end of the case is still a ways away.
Twenty-six players signed with UNC in this recruiting cycle, giving the Tar Heels their largest recruiting class under Fedora. Both Rivals.com and Scout.com ranked UNC’s class among the top 25 nationally.
Other schools still attempted to use the NCAA case against Fedora’s program on the recruiting trail. Fedora and his staff still had to be on the defense, at times. But not like it used to be.
“And even though I think people still try to use that out there, I just think people are tired of hearing about it,” Fedora said. “And they know that there’s been a lot of crying wolf about what’s going to happen and none of those things have happened.
“And so I think they feel pretty comfortable with what we’re saying, and they know that we’re moving forward. And so we really haven’t looked back on it.”