The upcoming University of North Carolina Football season is about to be over even before it started thanks to infractions the school has reported to the NCAA.
Tar Heel fans have been impatiently waiting for Fall since several key defensive players announced they were coming back for their senior season. Now, it seems they were waiting in vain.
UNC administrators recently self-reported academic violations to the NCAA, stemming from a tutor and his or her involvement with numerous key players on UNC's football team, It is believed that several players had homework and papers completed for them, many of whom are reported to be members of North Carolina's defensive unit.
Inside sources have reported that several of UNC's starting defenders were placed on the scout team for Wednesday's practice. While several names have been named, this author will not sling mud before it is officially slung.
You'll have to wait for the 7:30 PM press conference for those details. The press conference will be attended—excuse me—hosted by Chancellor Holden Thorp, Athletic Director Dick Baddour and head coach Butch Davis.
It is unclear whether defensive tackle Marvin Austin is involved, as he had already been moved to the second-team defensive line in practice, due to his involvement in the NCAA's investigation regarding improper benefits provided by agents.
NCAA investigators have been regulars in Chapel Hill this summer, as a Tweet by Austin started an investigation into player-agent relationships that has spread to several programs in the southeast. After conducting two rounds of interviews with selected players, as well as obtaining financial, email, and text message records, the NCAA is believed to be close to a decision regarding the improper benefits given by agents.
The academic infractions, however, are a different story. These were uncovered by UNC administrators and were self-reported to the NCAA.
If you're looking for a silver lining, I'm sorry, there isn't one. But there is a dark, dull-grey lining. And it is the fact that UNC self-reported the violations.
Unlike Florida State in 2007, when the NCAA conducted its own investigation and released findings of academic improprieties, UNC took the initiative to do the investigating. The Florida State scandal involved 61 players who were not named, and resulted in 10 scholarships being revoked, all wins in 2006 and 2007 being vacated, and the school being placed on four years of probation.
Also, FSU's academic scandal stretched for multiple years, whereas the situation in Chapel Hill is believed to pertain only to this past year. This, and the self-reporting, should make the NCAA's punishment less severe than the one handed down in Tallahassee. But that's asking an oft-inconsistent bureaucracy to remain consistent.
Don't hold your breath.
And before you start blaming Davis and accusing him of fostering a crooked atmosphere, remember that in the mid-90s, he inherited a heavily sanctioned Miami Hurricanes program and took them to national prominence, without committing any infractions.
What we have here seems to be solely on the players.
As for the players involved, expect some sort of suspension to be handed down. While I will not speculate on the length of anyone's suspension, as each could vary from player to player, it seems as though the highly touted Tar Heels defense will not be nearly as intimidating for their Sept. 4th opener against LSU.
At a time when Tar Heels fans finally believed they had the players needed to become national championship contenders, it's starting to look like those same players will be the ones who remove UNC from such lofty talks.