Let’s hope the end is near

Published 10:55 am Monday, May 29, 2017

Is this the real life … is this just fantasy… caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.

– Freddie Mercury (Queen): “Bohemian Rhapsody”

The University of North Carolina finally made public its response to its latest (third!) Notice of Allegations (NOA) from the NCAA this past Thursday.

The allegations were: (1) academic fraud in the highly-scrutinized African and Afro-American Studies Department in providing additional benefits to student-athletes with anomalous courses, and a lack of institutional control in not policing such; (2) the women’s basketball academic counselor provided extra benefits to student-athletes within the program; (3) AFAM student services manager Deborah Crowder did not cooperate with the NCAA investigation; (4) AFAM department chair Julius Nyang’oro did not cooperate with the investigation; (5) UNC demonstrated a lack of institutional control in its failure to monitor the department.

Let me see if I can wrap my brain around these:

Regarding Allegation #1, basically, UNC denied NCAA violations occurred with regard to those AFAM courses. The school also denied a lack of institutional control occurred due to the lack of underlying violations.

As for whether the evidence states that Nyang’oro and Crowder provided extra benefits to student athletes taking those courses, the school denied that NCAA violation, citing that the courses were an “academic issue”.

Breaking it down, UNC is saying: (1) the courses were available to all students; (2) student-athletes were treated no differently than other students who took the courses; (3) the courses originated in the AFAM department and not the athletic department; (4) no one in the athletic department took improper advantage of the courses; and (5) the course issues were academic in nature and the result of inadequate academic oversight is unrelated to the athletic department.

Carolina owns this: it’s saying the classes were a fraud, but also say the problem is unrelated to the athletic department. That makes academic fraud – in UNC’s opinion – outside the jurisdiction of the NCAA; ergo, it couldn’t then be classified as an “NCAA violation”.

There were some allegations UNC agreed with. Internal investigations seem to have given credence to Allegation #2, which alleged that women’s basketball athletic academic counselor Jan Boxill provided extra benefits to women’s basketball student-athletes in the form of improper academic assistance. However, the school claims that the allegations occurred prior to a four-year statute of limitations.

UNC “takes no position” on Allegation #3, which states that Crowder did not cooperate with the investigation. The university agreed with Allegation #4, which states that Nyang’oro did not cooperate with the investigation.

Regarding Allegation #5, which alleges that the university demonstrated a lack of institutional control, UNC denied the charge, stating that Allegation 5 cannot stand because “there was no underlying violation as alleged in Allegation 1”. In addition, the response stated that Allegation 2 did not establish a lack of institutional control.

Okay, NCAA you’ve now got YOUR two months (60 days) to reply. Sometime in August, UNC officials will go before that NCAA Infractions Committee, and any – repeat, any – sanctions that may come out of this won’t possibly come before this autumn.

Roy Williams said it best after his latest NCAA championship triumph: “I used to say that I hoped that it was over with before I retired; now I’m saying I hope it’s over with before I die.”

Me, too, Coach. Me, too.

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.