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The great UNC athletics academic fiasco will never, ever end

Four years after the first rumblings of illegal benefits bubbled to the surface in Chapel Hill, the North Carolina academic scandal shambles onward.

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Who's the NCAA's UNC academic SNITCH?

We have no evidence that any of these people were involved, but we don't have any evidence that they weren't.


McCants says he took sham courses at UNC

The latest revelation in the UNC academic scandal sees former star hoopster Rashad McCants open up on fake classes, coach Roy Williams and more.


The worst homework of all time

North Carolina has long been suspected of holding its athletes to loose academic standards. Now, we have proof, which we have completely made up.


UNC's fake classes were really, really fake

ESPN unearthed a final paper submitted in one of the fake classes at UNC. It's not a very good paper.


Emails show UNC prof took favors from tutors

Julius Nyang’oro took football tickets, sideline passes and other favors from counselors in exchange for help with independent studies scheduling, according to emails.


Marvin Austin's college cash hookup

Austin was one of several Tar Heels to receive impermissible benefits while in college, which ultimately got the UNC program put on probation.


The first-ever funny Wikipedia vandalism joke

"HAW HAW SOMEBODY'S ALREADY FIDDLED WITH THE WIKI" is the worst Internet joke to emerge from pretty much anything, but cheers to you, whichever N.C. State fan did this.


NCAA On North Carolina: 'No Rules Appear To Have Been Broken'

The NCAA has ruled that North Carolina did not commit any academic violations in regards to enrollment in African and Afro-American Studies courses.


The UNC Scandal And One Big Excuse To Be Outraged Again

UNC athletics is under fire again, this time for allegations of academic impropriety that may stretch back for more than a decade. If the NCAA finds proof, the Heels should be punished. But let's not get too hysterical about all this.


UNC Football: Hakeem Nicks Was Ineligible In 2008, According To Report

The only role former North Carolina star receiver Hakeem Nicks has played in the years-long Heels academic scandal has been that of an alleged enabler, not a partaker. He passed along around $3,000 worth of benefits to younger players, according to UNC, and we haven't really heard from him since.

Until this News & Observer report that alleges, "NCAA documents show that Nicks received improper academic help in the spring of 2008 from a tutor implicated in the NCAA scandal at UNC."

This doesn't appear to mean new NCAA trouble, but rather a revelation of yet another item the public is just now finding out about.

His agent predictably downplayed the item to the paper, and Nicks' various school records will still stand, albeit with asterisks next to 2008. He holds the career receiving yardage, single-season receiving yardage and career receiving touchdowns marks for the Tar Heels.

For more on UNC football, visit North Carolina blog Carolina March.

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UNC Academic Scandal: Records Reveal More No-Show Classes

This is the scandal that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends. After the North Carolina Tar Heels football program was punished for various NCAA violations in March, new reports emerged last month that a number of football players enrolled in a class that had no instruction in the summer of 2011. This was probably not an isolated incident.

According to a report at the Charlotte News & Observer, multiple athletes were enrolled in courses that were listed as one-student courses during summers prior to 2011. There's a lot of evidence that more than one student was enrolled in a lot of these one-student classes, and that they were usually athletes. There's also a lot of evidence that no one taught the classes and that no instruction was offered. One now-retired professor, Julius Nyang'oro, was responsible for 38 suspect summer classes over five summers, 26 listed as one-student classes. He was not paid for 29 of them, which is atypical because summer classes are usually considered to be outside of professors' normal work years.

This investigation and scandal is going to get worse before it gets better. The News & Observer found 12 classes from between 1999 and 2001 that had a maximum capacity of one student and no classroom time listed. The University is investigating the suspect classes, and it is looking increasingly likely that the 2011 summer class was not an isolated incident.

For more on UNC football, visit North Carolina blog Carolina March.


NCAA Bans UNC Football From Bowl, Docks 15 Scholarships

The North Carolina Tar Heels have finally learned what the NCAA thinks of those self-imposed penalties in the wake of the great Heelgate* scandal. In a release, the NCAA announced it will tack on a year of probation to the two UNC had recommended, prevent the Heels from playing in a bowl game or the ACC Championship in 2012 and add to UNC's scholarships reduction.

The complete list of penalties, including both the NCAA's and UNC's:

The penalties in this case include:

  1. Public reprimand and censure.
  2. Three years of probation from March 12, 2012, through March 11, 2015.
  3. Three-year show-cause penalty for the former assistant football coach prohibiting any recruiting activity. The public report contains further details.
  4. Postseason ban for the 2012 football season.
  5. Reduction of football scholarships by a total of 15 during three academic years. The public report includes further details.
  6. Vacation of wins during the 2008 and 2009 seasons (self-imposed by the university). The public report includes further details.
  7. $50,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).

Thus, a story nearly two years in the making has essentially ended. A one-year bowl ban isn't a big deal at all, and USC, Ohio State and others have provided helpful road maps on how to recruit around scholarship reductions.

Former assistant John Blake also suffered a three-year show-cause penalty for his role, meaning his coaching days are pretty much done.

For more on UNC football, visit North Carolina blog Carolina March.


Bubba Cunningham Hired As New North Carolina Athletic Director

The North Carolina Tar Heels have made official the successor of outgoing athletic director Dick Baddour, with the school's Board of Trustees voting to hire Tulsa's Bubba Cunningham. His contract will begin Nov. 14 at $525,000 per year plus bonuses and run through 2017.

Cunningham spent six years at Tulsa after leaving Ball State. Under his watch, the Golden Hurricanes transitioned from the WAC to Conference USA. He also probably never saw his football program run afoul of like the entire NCAA rule book all at once, which helped him win favor in Chapel Hill. I'm guessing on that last part.

He'll have a fine little mess to clean up on the football side, but he'll also oversee one of the country's biggest basketball programs and have a strong academic heritage to uphold. Don't be astounded to see Clemson Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris' name emerge as a potential UNC football coaching candidate ... Tulsa connections abound.

For more, visit UNC blog Carolina March.


UNC Football Vacates Multiple Seasons, Self-Imposes Probation

The North Carolina Tar Heels announced Monday they're punishing themselves for the sprawling, complicated scandal that infested their football program and was completely forgotten about once the Miami Hurricanes rolled up their sleeves and went to work. Still, UNC did a lot of stuff the NCAA hates, if you don't recall.

To the details. The Heels have self-imposed vacations of the 2008 and 2009 seasons; docked themselves three scholarships for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons; given themselves two years of probation; and plan to pay a $50,000 fine.

Wait and see whether the NCAA is satisfied with those setbacks or decides to tack on more. (NOTE: Tacks insufficient; NCAA loading staple gun. UNC's proposed punishment platter is similar to what Boise State got for improper sleeping arrangements.)

As the Sporting News' Matt Hayes notes, UNC made sure to tie the scandal to former coach Butch Davis, mentioning him four times despite his name not appearing in the NCAA's letter of investigation. Following the Ohio State model is the new move.

Here's athletic director Dick Baddour:

I believe the report is a very thorough response to the NCAA. The University of North Carolina takes our standing and reputation in the NCAA community seriously and with great respect and our response to the allegations reflects that. We accept responsibility for mistakes that were made in terms that are balanced, measured and fair. I want to acknowledge the hard work that University and athletic department staff put in to prepare the report. The October 28th appearance in Indianapolis is the next major step and we will direct our efforts toward preparing for that hearing.    

For more on the Tar Heels, head over to Carolina March. For more college football, join SB Nation's NCAA football hub.


Butch Davis Fired As UNC Football Coach, According To Reports

After an afternoon of rumors that included a closed Board of Trustees meeting and pokerfaced comments on whether North Carolina Tar Heels coach Butch Davis had been fired or not, Butch Davis has indeed been fired as the head coach of UNC football, according to CBS Sports, who said players have already been made aware. Joe Schad reported "the process of termination" is underway.

In late-July. As in weeks before college football season.

Before the news broke, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp declined to comment on the firing.

Until now, North Carolina's apparent reason for not axing Davis as soon as the pile of allegations arrived was plausible deniability. At the ACC's media days over the weekend, Davis took responsibility for the program's mountain of troubles:

I'm the head football coach. And things that happen, anything I can do to make sure these things don't happen ... anything that we can do to make sure that doesn't happen again, that's part of my responsibility.

He also said he had no plans of stepping down and was reassured by the school's support. When last we'd heard from Davis in relation to the long and winding NCAA investigation into Carolina football, the school had announced it was handing over his phone records to the media.

And to think, this all started with a tweet.

Stay tuned to this UNC football investigation StoryStream, and keep an eye on Butch Davis and the North Carolina football program over at Carolina March.


UNC Announces Most Obvious NCAA Inquiry In Recorded Human History

In June of 2010, the NCAA made the University of North Carolina aware of possible illegal benefits violations among members of the Tar Heels football team. In July of 2010, we giggled at barely-there reports of NCAA investigators questioning players. In September of 2010 we wat in the Georgia Dome and watched a gutted UNC team down 13 players very nearly knock off LSU in the highest-profile game of college football's 2010 opening weekend. And on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, the university announced the receipt of a notice of inquiry by the NCAA. Not a notice of allegations, mind. Just a notice that the NCAA thinks, officially, that something might be amiss:

CHAPEL HILL - The University of North Carolina announced Tuesday it has received a notice of inquiry from the NCAA pertaining to its football program. The letter is a formal declaration of an investigation into the program, which originally began in June, 2010.
"The notice of inquiry is a formal notification from the NCAA that they have been reviewing our football program," said UNC Director of Athletics Dick Baddour. "We have been working with the NCAA and cooperating with them on this investigation. We are committed to the process and will continue to cooperate."

For an impression of just how much has transpired since the NCAA's initial foray into Chapel Hill, peruse the rest of this StoryStream. The scope of events is just staggering: A second, academics-related investigation came to light. A third case, featuring defensive end Quinton Coples, was announced just a few weeks ago. Two players were ruled permanently ineligible. Four players have left the program just this spring. Marvin Austin, the original investigative centerpiece, was the Denver Broncos' second-round draft pick. The state government got involved. The coach in the eye of the case resigned, and the agent being fingered for ethics violations up and died. And Butch Davis banned Twitter, and still has a job. We stand in awe of this rich human tapestry of events.


NFL Agent Gary Wichard, Central Figure In UNC Investigation, Reportedly Has Died

Veteran NFL agent Gary Wichard, who represented such players as Antonio Cromartie, C.J. Spiller, Jason Taylor, and Dwight Freeney over the course of a decades-long career in the field, has died, according to a report from the Sports Agent Blog. The author cites multiple sources, including a member of Wichard's ProTect Management, and another blog mentions that several agents at the 2011 NFL Combine believe Wichard to have been ill. Sports Business Journal's Liz Mullen says Wichard was suffering from both diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

Apart from his work with the pros, Wichard had gained recent notoriety thanks to his involvement in the ongoing investigation into improper benefits for UNC football players. Earlier this month, a search warrant was issued by investigators from the North Carolina Secretary Of State's office for financial records belonging both to Wichard and ProTect, as ties between him and former Tar Heels assistant coach John Blake continued to be probed. Wichard was also serving a nine-month suspension from the NFLPA thanks to fallout from the case.


UNC Reports Hakeem Nicks, Vernon Davis Gave Improper Benefits To Players

Big day for the neverending improper-benefits investigation into the UNC football program! A months-long scandal that was triggered by, among other events, the relationship between current Tar Heels and former players like Kentwan Balmer, added some more ACC alumni names today, as the university released additional information to the NCAA in the process of clearing up the eligibility statuses of the remaining withheld players. Let's give a warm welcome to the newcomers reported to have help destabilize the Chapel Hill regime:

Mahlon Carey, Hakeem Nicks, Omar Brown, Vernon Davis and an unknown person from Miami gave gifts of cash and jewelry and provided impermissible assistance with travel, lodging and entertainment expenses.

    •    Nicks: $3,300
    •    Brown: $1,865
    •    Carey: $140
    •    Davis: $20
    •    Unknown person from Miami: $323

Before we get to making fun of Vernon Davis for only shelling out 20 bucks, ESPN has some additional details that make you wonder just how shabbily his guest bedroom must be decorated:

The school said the amount -- totaling $5,648 between the five people -- also includes the estimated value of lodging at their homes during visits. Some of those benefits were repaid by the players or hosts before they knew they had broken NCAA rules.

Oh, and the school also formally severed its relationship with Jennifer Wiley, the tutor accused of providing extra benefits and improper academic assistance. Now: return to the Vernon Davis jokes! Seriously, did he make them sleep in a shed? I'm asking for Craig James.


UNC's Greg Little, Robert Quinn Ruled Permanently Ineligible

On the heels of the announcement of Marvin Austin's dismissal from UNC comes the news that Tar Heels Greg Little and Robert Quinn have been ruled permanently ineligible. The university goes into considerably more detail here in listing the duo's misdeeds:

The university declared both student-athletes ineligible for violations of NCAA agent benefits, preferential treatment and ethical conduct rules. According to the facts submitted by the university, the total value of the benefits is approximately $4,952 for Little and $5,642 for Quinn.

Little accepted diamond earrings, as well as travel accommodations for the Bahamas, Washington D.C. and two trips to Miami, among other benefits. Quinn accepted two black diamond watches, a pair of matching earrings and travel accommodations for a trip to Miami, among other benefits.

Based upon information gathered by the institution and the NCAA Agent, Gambling and Amateurism staff during its joint investigation, unethical conduct charges were found against both student-athletes for providing false and misleading information.

This brings the grand total (so far) of banished Tar Heel players to three.


Marvin Austin Dismissed From UNC Tar Heels Football

Nearly three months after the announcement of a wide-ranging NCAA investigation of the UNC football program, senior star Marvin Austin has been dismissed from the team for "violations of NCAA agent benefits, preferential treatment and ethical conduct rules":

North Carolina based its decision on recent information gathered as part of the joint investigation with the NCAA. Austin's case was not submitted to the NCAA for reinstatement. A senior from Washington, D.C., Austin had been suspended indefinitely since September 1 for violating team rules.

Austin is the second player to have his career permanently curtailed thanks to this investigation, following the ousting of Weslye Saunders from South Carolina, and the first of the thirteen implicated Tar Heels to be sent packing.


Former North Carolina Assistant Football Coach John Blake Linked To Agent In Scandal

If North Carolina was waiting for the other shoe to drop in their improper benefits and academic improprieties scandal, this is surely it.

According to Charles Robinson at Yahoo! Sports, receipts exist proving that NFL agent Gary Wichard and former University of North Carolina assistant football coach John Blake engaged in multiple financial transactions since 2007.

Wichard and Blake are now at the center of NCAA and North Carolina Secretary of State probes, which are seeking to determine the nature and scope of alleged agent tampering involving the football program. Those investigations have also focused on Tar Heels defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who has made at least five trips that have come under scrutiny. Two of those trips included training at a California facility less than two miles from Wichard’s agency, Pro Tect Management. Yahoo! Sports has obtained a hotel receipt from one of those trips, which lists Austin’s name above Pro Tect Management, as well as an address and Marriott Rewards number belonging to an NFL marketing agent who represents two current Pro-Tect clients.

Specifically, Yahoo! Sports has proof of a $45,000 loan from Pro Tect to Blake and a Pro Tect credit card in Blake’s name. They even have a receipt with Pro Tect’s information on it that was deleted from a version submitted to lawyers.

Wichard is denying the allegations while Blake refuses to comment. Wichard and Pro Tect are currently the focus of the NCAA and North Carolina’s probes into the alleged improprieties at UNC.

Wichard is facing strong allegations that could not only affect his status as an agent in the eyes of the NFLPA but North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agent Act makes it a felony punishable by up to 15 months in prison for agents to provide anything to athletes prior to agreeing to a contract.

Sadly for UNC, this one is just getting started. Between the academic allegations, player benefits and now the proof of a financial relationship between an agent and a coach, the possibility of “lack of institutional control” has to be thrown out there. Not to mention the fact that Butch Davis’ days are numbered.

Keep an eye on Carolina March for reaction and updates.


NCAA Asks For Agents' Cooperation In Eligibility Investigation

Several NFL agents have reported receiving a letter from the NCAA, asking for their cooperation as the investigation into improper benefits for college athletes marches on. I was personally hoping the missives were constructed from cut-out magazine letters, but apparently not:

A person familiar with the letter told The Associated Press that the tone is not threatening and the NCAA is not applying pressure on the agents. But it wants "an environment of cooperation" when NCAA regulations may have been broken regarding contact between agents and amateur student-athletes.
The NFLPA is encouraging agents and its members to cooperate with any investigations.

How on earth is this going to succeed? Are these guys chatting up college players on the sly going to throw up their hands with sheepish grins and admit to being caught when they're cornered? Is anything short of threats going to make this happen?


Marvin Austin Testifies In Government Investigation

UNC's Marvin Austin gave testimony at the offices of the North Carolina Secretary of State Friday, as part of an investigation into possible violations of state law by parties acting as sports agents:

[Secretary of State Elaine] Marshall's office began its review shortly after the NCAA launched an investigation into the school's football program in July. That probe initially focused on whether Austin and receiver Greg Little received improper benefits from agents, which led Marshall's office to subpoena Austin earlier this month.
Violating the state's agent laws, which require agents to register and prohibit them from offering gifts before a contract is signed, can lead to criminal or civil penalties.

Barring some extraordinary reversal, UNC will still be down twelve players, most of them would-be starters, when the Tar Heels host Georgia Tech Saturday.

For more on this story as it unfolds, follow this StoryStream and SB Nation's Carolina March.


North Carolina Declares Six Players Ineligible For Saturday's Game, Another Six Being Withheld

North Carolina has announced the players they'll be without for Saturday's Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic against No. 21 LSU, and while it's not 16 as some speculated, it's still a hefty loss: the 21st-ranked Tar Heels will be without the services of 12 players. Six have been declared ineligible for violating school and/or NCAA rules by the school, with another six simply being withheld as the investigations continue.

The six ineligible student-athletes include: defensive tackle Marvin Austin, cornerback Charles Brown, cornerback Kendric Burney, wide receiver Greg Little, defensive end Michael McAdoo and defensive end Robert Quinn.

Six other student-athletes who will be withheld from Saturday's game include: tailback Shaun Draughn, defensive end Linwan Euwell, safety Brian Gupton, tailback Ryan Houston, safety Da'Norris Searcy and safety Jonathan Smith.

While Marvin Austin was already suspended indefinitely, the length of time the other 11 players will miss has not yet been determined.


Marvin Austin Suspended Indefinitely By North Carolina For 'Violation Of Team Rules'

Marvin Austin has been suspended indefinitely by North Carolina for a "violation of team rules," as ESPN's Joe Schad and Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel have tweeted. UNC itself offers a little more detail.

University of North Carolina head coach Butch Davis has suspended senior defensive tackle Marvin Austin indefinitely.

"This decision is not a result of the ongoing NCAA review," says Davis. "Marvin has violated team rules and has neglected his responsibilities to the team."

Note the tricky language: Though the decision isn't a result of an ongoing NCAA investigation, Austin's involvement in the investigation or in trying to clear his name on Facebook could certainly constitute a "violation of team rules."


It's not clear how long Austin will be suspended, but he will not play Saturday against LSU.


UNC Reportedly Discovers 'Academic Infractions' During Self-Imposed Investigation

When it rains, it pours (NCAA violations). In the midst of an on-going investigation into North Carolina comes this new report: according to sources, the UNC football team has discovered "academic infractions" and submitted them to the NCAA for further review.

The infractions in question stem from violations involved with a tutor, and were found during a self-imposed investigation. ESPN's Joe Schad provided more detail when tweeted Thursday afternoon that "UNC is investigating if approximately 9 players including standouts had papers written by a former tutor." Those players supposedly involved were limited to the scout team in Wednesday's practice, Schad added.

UNC was already at the center of the NCAA's Sauron-like eye before Thursday for possible contact with agents, which was made public in July.

Telephone and financial release forms were requested for the student-athletes involved, as well as text message printouts for the past year. The interviews were conducted on July 12-13.

The NCAA returned to UNC for a second round of interviews on Aug 4-5.

Three of the players involved in Tutorgate, again, according to Schad, are Marvin Austin, Bruce Carter and Robert Quinn. Austin, you may recall, has reportedly already been interviewed "about receiving gifts or extra benefits."

The school has scheduled a press conference for Thursday night at 7:30 P.M. EDT, in which Chancellor Holden Thorp, athletic director Dick Baddour and football head coach Butch Davis will appear together, and will reportedly address "all components of the investigation," according to FanHouse's Will Brinson


Tar Heels Of Interest In NCAA Investigation Include Marvin Austin, Greg Little

The NCAA's investigation of North Carolina coalesced a little over the weekend -- but only a little.

Defensive tackle Marvin Austin and wide receiver Greg Little reportedly were among those interviewed about receiving gifts or extra benefits, but little else is known since the NCAA is prohibiting school officials from publicly addressing the situation.

Austin's Twitter account had been deactivated and deleted by Friday morning.

Twitter accounts being deleted! This is getting real, y'all! Austin deleting his Twitter account will totally erase all suspicion that his recently-mentioned trip to Miami was rife with improper agent contact!

Speaking of which, don't miss this lovely parting gift, a quote from former Tar Heel Kentwan Balmer's agent Gary Wichard, who's entered the discussion as a possible suspicious player and is ever so gracefully attempting to distance himself from Austin:

“I’ve never talked to him about representing him,” Wichard said. “I've never gone down there, and I never will.”


For more on this and all things Tar-Heelian, visit SBN's Carolina March.

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