Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

No significant penalties for UNC in NCAA's long-awaited report on academic scandals

No significant penalties for UNC in NCAA's long-awaited report on academic scandals

Sankey said the panel was "troubled" by the University's shifting opinions on whether the classes constituted academic fraud - but that NCAA policy defers this determination to member schools.

The NCAA enforcement staff countered in a July filing: "The issues at the heart of this case are clearly the NCAA's business".

"A singular principle allowed UNC room to make its claims and, ultimately, limits the panel's ability to conclude that academic fraud occurred", the Public Infractions Decision said.

Over the course of the investigation, both NCAA President Mark Emmert and North Carolina have argued that the NCAA is in the business of policing the behavior of athletic department personnel but not is not equipped to judge the rigor of classes, meaning the UNC case fell outside the organization's jurisdiction.

More than 3,100 students were enrolled in the "paper classes" over an 18-year period. However, the investigation was focused from 2002-11.

Sometimes, members of the school's academic services even suggested grades that would keep athletes eligible.

"While student-athletes likely benefited from the courses, so did the general student body", said Sankey.

"Based on the general availability and the lack of specific examples, the panel can not conclude a systemic effort to impermissibly benefit student-athletes", it said.

That's not all the Tar Heels and their fans have to celebrate. North Carolina also won a national championship this past season, but that title was never in question. The NCAA removed that charge in the second Notice of Allegations (NOA), then revamped and re-inserted it into the third NOA.

The allegations included a lack of institutional control, failure to monitor, and extra benefits in association with the courses. Still, Syracuse and head coach Jim Boeheim were punished significantly, at least by NCAA standards, while North Carolina got off free on a jurisdictional argument.

From left, in August 16, 2017, file photos, University of North Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, University of North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham, University of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams, University of North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora and University of North Carolina women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell arrive at an NCAA hearing in Nashville, Tenn.

A few hours earlier, UNC scored a major and unexpected victory when the NCAA ended its seven-year investigation into the university's African and Afro-American Studies program without issuing any sanctions. There was then another review from former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin who found the sham classes went back to 1997.

According to investigator Kenneth Wainstein's report, the "paper courses" were "hardly a secret" on campus and predominantly spread by word-of-mouth among undergraduates.

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