I started on a status update on the various investigations and penalties at UNC when the rumors began to break about impending decisions on the remaining academic issues. Not wanting to put out an entry that would be so quickly out-of-date, I decided to wait. Then rumors whirled all day about Burneyâ€¦heâ€™s cleared, heâ€™s not; and then settled out at a definite maybe.
For those that think that procrastination doesnâ€™t pay, let this be a counter-example. By waiting, I unknowingly gave Tar Heel Fan enough time to provide a player-by-player update in Where the Investigation Standsâ€¦which means that I didnâ€™t have to try and separate players that I donâ€™t really know very well. Tar Heel Fan (THF) also provided his analysis of the various judgmentsâ€¦.but I think that this is where I will butt in.
TWEETING AND RAMSAY
So why was fullback Derek Ramsay held out before the Clemson game after playing in the first four games of the year? THFâ€™s view:
â€¦Ramsay is fine on academics but made an inappropriate tweet which has him in Butch Davisâ€™ doghouse.
I trust that the humor contained in this statement is not lost on our audience. However, I fear that this conclusion doesnâ€™t really jive with the statements made by Baddour when the announcement on Ramsay was made:
Asked if he was concerned that the Tar Heels might have to vacate those wins, against Rutgers and East Carolina, Baddour said he didn’t know.
“I think you all know that we’ve been in frequent contact with the NCAA,” he said. “They signed off on the process that we’re using. They have indicated to us several times that they have trust in our process, and we have certainly had more than a good-faith investigation going here, and my hope is that they would accept the effort that we’re doing.”
Using an ineligible player does not automatically result in vacating games. In February 2008, an NCAA appeals committee ruled that Oklahoma should not have had to vacate eight wins from the 2005 seasonâ€¦
Does that sound like Baddour is worried about inappropriate tweets?
Do you think that Baddour knows what the NCAA did to FSU on their cheating scandal?
FOUR GAMES vs SIX
One of the interesting things to come out so far in the NCAAâ€™s rulings was that Deunta Williams had to sit out four games for accepting improper benefits and Kendric Burney had to sit out six for what appears to be essentially the same violation. Letâ€™s not forget that the UGa wide receiver also received a four game suspension for selling his jersey to Hawkins.
Obviously, there is something significantly different in Burneyâ€™s case when compared to the other two. However, I have no clue what that the difference might beâ€¦and we may never know. I suspect that by the time the NCAA releases itâ€™s final report and penalties, this point will probably shrink to insignificance.
NCAA VIOLATION vs SCHOOL ISSUE
One really interesting â€œfactâ€ that was included in the analysis was an excerpt of an e-mail from UNC spokesman Kevin Best:
You can infer that the individuals ruled on thus far in the academic misconduct did not commit any NCAA violations. In some instances the NCAA does not have to sign off or even discuss the clearances.
Hopefully, THF will understand if I donâ€™t share his enthusiastic support of Thorp, Baddour, and UNCâ€™s investigative process. But luckily for us skeptics, the NCAA has joined the academic probe and the NCAA will have plenty of time to evaluate the available information over the next year or so. In the end, the NCAA will be the judge of what is (or is not) a violation of Article 10.1, Unethical Conduct:
Unethical conduct by a prospective or enrolled student-athlete or a current or former institutional staff member (e.g., coach, professor, tutor, teaching assistant, student manager, student trainer) may include, but is not limited to, the following:
â€¦(b) Knowing involvement in arranging for fraudulent academic credit or false transcripts for a prospective or an enrolled student athlete;
One of the things that we learned during the FSU academic scandal was that the NCAA considers a cheater to be ineligible at the moment he/she first cheatedâ€¦regardless of when the cheating was discovered. So the decision on what is and what is not an NCAA issue is a really important one to make. Weâ€™ll just have to be patient and wait to see if the NCAA agrees with UNCâ€™s judgment….and don’t forget what the NCAA did to the cheaters at FSU.
LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL
Once again, I have to thank a UNC site for doing the boring role of fact gathering for us. Last week, Inside Carolina laid out some of the key issues used in determining LOIC as well as Baddourâ€™s take:
North Carolina athletics director Dick Baddour told reporters on Monday that North Carolina has â€œa strong compliance program in place.â€
â€œI think anybody who looks at that program would say that we were doing more than significant things to protect our institution and to protect individuals,â€ Baddour said. â€œObviously, we need to do more and thatâ€™s what this review process is going to do for us, is to establish things that we can do better. And weâ€™re absolutely committed to that.â€
The facts back up those claimsâ€¦
Strangely enough, IC left out a few facts in their evaluation:
– Multiple players were involved in accepting improper benefits
– Multiple players were involved in an academic scandal
– The players were publically detailing their escapades
– At least one of the players is a runner for an agent
– UNC discovered none of these issues until after the NCAA came to CH
– Multiple players lied to NCAA investigators
Now, does that sound like a school, athletic dept, or coach that has developed â€œan atmosphere for complianceâ€? Personally, I think that the players have shown enough disregard for NCAA regulations to warrant LOIC. In fact, when all is said and done, Austin may have earned that label for UNC all by himself.
No, I havenâ€™t forgotten Blake or Hawkins. But Iâ€™m not going into their issues for several reasons:
– I donâ€™t like the title of â€œMaster of the Obviousâ€.
– Hawkins’ presence is awkward for UNC, but not necessarily damning.
– I donâ€™t think that Blakeâ€™s story is anywhere near its conclusion.
You probably noticed that I didn’t discuss the UNC Honor Court. This omission is easily explained by my complete disinterest in the Honor Court and what they decide. Are they a bunch of geeks looking to screw players? Are they a rubber stamp to get cheaters back on the field? I neither know nor care as long as I know that the NCAA is involved in all aspects of the investigation. If the kids are innocent, then they deserve to play (ignoring the potential of a recruiting prong). If they are not, then it will be interesting to see if the NCAA steps in before UNC accepts a bowl invitation this year. In either event, I am far more concerned with what the NCAA has to say on the issue than a student Honor Court.
More from THF:
In fact this is the ultimate rebuttal to anyone who criticizes UNC as being a dirty program and a clear answer to the calls for an independent investigation. How seriously did UNC take these issues? They sat players out multiple games without fully knowing whether they were guilty or not
We all have our biases and THF likely let his affect this conclusion. He obviously doesnâ€™t understand why the â€œun-initiatedâ€ would distrust the conclusions reached by a compliance office that was utterly clueless until the NCAA rolled into town. The more that is discovered, the worse everyone in the athletic department looks. That is not exactly an atmosphere conducive to free and honest discussion/investigation.
As I said before, luckily for us skeptics the NCAA is in no rush to announce that â€œinvestigative phase is nearly overâ€ (as Baddour has proclaimed several times over the last few weeks). If UNC is actually close to concluding their investigations, then the rumors that weâ€™ve grown so fond of may start to dry up (unless someone has some sources in Indianapolis). However just remember, silence will not erase any of the things we already know. Because you see, facts donâ€™t really ever changeâ€¦.we just get more of them.