UNC reputation suffers with violations
by Rachel George, USA TODAY Sports
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Over more than two years since the University of North Carolina has been dealing with investigations into the school’s first major NCAA infractions case since 1961, several people up to the chancellor have resigned or lost their jobs and unwanted media attention has focused on what role athletics should play on a big-time college campus.
Findings from an NCAA investigation included that football players had accepted $27,000 in improper benefits from sports agents and their representatives; that a tutor, Jennifer Wiley, had committed academic fraud in completing work for players as well as providing improper benefits; and that former assistant coach John Blake had received money from an agent, Gary Wichard, to whom he steered UNC players.
The university community looks to move forward with the start of men’s basketball practice this week, but continuing academic concerns threaten to impact the school’s most beloved sport. A report by The News & Observer in Raleigh last week raises questions about a naval weapons class in 2007 that included several basketball players, suggesting the NCAA might further probe academic irregularities at the school.
Already, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions has found the school failed to monitor its athletic program. In NCAA parlance, that’s one of the most serious charges a school can face.
UNC received sanctions in March that included a postseason bowl ban for the 2012 football season and a loss of 15 scholarships and probation over a three-year span. Coach Butch Davis was fired in July 2011, and athletic director Dick Baddour resigned, ending his tenure of more than 40 years at the school.
Chancellor Holden Thorp, who announced he would resign his position at the end of this academic year, suggested more than a year ago that the mounting problems would impact the reputation of the university. But to what degree that has happened remains unclear.
By several measurements, there seems to be little impact. Applications increased 24% for this year’s freshman class and are up 10% over this time last year. For the 2012 fiscal year, UNC brought in $287 million in donations to mark its best fund-raising year ever. … [For more on North Carolina reputation suffers with NCAA violations, click here.]