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UNC responds to Notice of Allegations: questions and answers

UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham (left) and the university administration have responded to the NCAA’s amended Notice of Allegations
UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham (left) and the university administration have responded to the NCAA’s amended Notice of Allegations Robert Willett - rwillett@newsobserver.com

North Carolina responded on Monday to the amended Notice of Allegations it received in April from the NCAA. A public version of the response will be released on Tuesday.

You might have some questions. We might have some answers.

Let’s get to it in a little segment I like to call: “Frequently asked questions about UNC’s response to the amended NOA:”

Q: Is this when we find out the penalties?

A: No, this is not when we find out the penalties – but, undoubtedly, some following this case are anxiously awaiting those, and every time there’s a development in the case that question comes up: What penalties will UNC endure as a result of this case? That’s unknown. And will remain unknown until the case concludes, which likely won’t be until sometime early in 2017.

Q. So what is this about, exactly?

A. This is UNC’s response to the amended NOA. It’s the university’s opportunity to respond to the allegations that the NCAA Enforcement Staff levied against UNC. Perhaps the best way to describe it would be to say that this is UNC’s first chance to make a formal argument in this case. The Enforcement Staff laid out its argument in the amended NOA. Now UNC has had the opportunity to do the same, though only in reaction to what the NCAA has already alleged.

Q. What will be in the response?

A. We’ll find out when a public version of the document is released on Tuesday. Beyond that, though, there are a few things we know even without seeing the response. For one, the response will be limited in scope to what the Enforcement Staff described in the amended NOA. The Enforcement Staff has accused UNC and three former employees of five Level I violations. The university’s response will detail its reaction and stance on those five violations.

Q. Remind me of the allegations facing UNC again.

A. Here they are:

▪ That Jan Boxill, former philosophy instructor and women’s basketball academic counselor, provided impermissible academic assistance to women’s basketball players.

▪ That Deborah Crowder, former administrative assistant in African and Afro-American Studies department, violated NCAA principles of ethical conduct when she failed to cooperate with an NCAA investigation.

▪ That Julius Nyang’oro, former chairman of the AFAM department, violated NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he failed to cooperate with an NCAA investigation.

▪ That university personnel failed to monitor the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) and AFAM departments, as well as Boxill.

▪ That the university displayed a lack of institutional control “when individuals in the athletics and academic administrations on campus, particularly in the college of arts and sciences, did not identify or investigate anomalous (AFAM) courses.”

Q. What will be the most interesting part of the response?

A. This one’s easy. The most interesting part of the response will be how UNC handles the charges of failure to monitor and lack of institutional control. Those are the most serious charges the university faces, and they’re the charges most likely to lead to serious sanctions. How UNC responds to those two charges will tell us a lot about its defense strategy ahead of its eventual appearance before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

Q. What about men’s basketball and football?

A. Those sports were not named in the amended NOA. And if they weren’t included in the amended NOA, it’s unlikely there will be any reference to them in UNC’s response.

Q. All this talk of an “amended” NOA. Why?

A. Because that’s the only version of the NOA that’s still in play in this case. The NCAA submitted a Notice of Allegations to UNC in May 2015. UNC was days away from the deadline to respond before it submitted new information to the NCAA in August 2015. Then the NCAA submitted a new, amended NOA to UNC in April. The amended NOA removed references to men’s basketball and football from the allegations. It has been viewed as a kinder, gentler version of the original. The first NOA might as well not exist, since UNC is responding to the amended version and the amended version only.

Q. So now what?

A. The NCAA has 60 days from the date of UNC’s response (which, again, was on Aug. 1) to respond to the response. At that point, a date will be set for the university to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions, which is the judge and jury major NCAA infractions cases. Then UNC will appear before the Committee on Infractions, which will eventually issue a ruling that includes the penalties and sanctions that UNC will face.

Q. How long will all of that take?

A. Let’s answer a question with a question: Has a major NCAA infractions case like this one ever, in history, moved quickly? (The answer is no.) So it will take a while. How long, exactly, is unclear. But the NCAA’s previous investigation into UNC’s football program provides some perspective. In that case, UNC released its response to the NOA on Sept. 19, 2011. The university appeared before the Committee on Infractions on Oct. 28, 2011. The committee issued its final ruling in the case on March 12, 2012. So if this case follows a similar timeline, UNC could go before the Committee on Infractions in late October and the case could be over by March.

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