NCAA ‘could not conclude’ academic violations at UNC

FILE - From left, in Aug. 16, 2017, file photos, University of North Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, University of North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham, University of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams, University of North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora and University of North Carolina women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell arrive at an NCAA hearing in Nashville, Tenn. Three people with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, that the NCAA infractions panel handling North Carolina’s multi-year academic case plans to release its report Friday. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)

The chief hearing officer of the NCAA’s infractions panel handling the North Carolina academic investigation case says it’s “more likely than not” that athletes received fraudulent credit, but the organization’s bylaws leave it to the schools themselves to determine academic fraud.

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, the chief hearing officer, said Friday that the panel could not use “those strong possibilities” to determine whether violations occurred.

North Carolina avoided major penalties when the panel couldn’t conclude academic violations took place. Sankey says what happened was “troubling.” He says the panel “applied the membership’s bylaws to the facts” and “couldn’t conclude violations. That’s reality.”

The investigation centered around independent study-style courses in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department. The infractions panel says North Carolina supported those courses as legitimate.

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11:20 a.m.

The attorney for a former professor and academic counselor charged in North Carolina’s academic case says his client is “obviously pleased” that an NCAA infractions committee panel didn’t conclude she committed a violation.

One of the five charges against UNC focused on Jan Boxill for providing too much help on assignments in her role as a counselor for women’s basketball. But the NCAA found only two violations in the case, neither involved Boxill.

Her attorney, Randall Roden, issued a statement saying the multi-year case was “a terrible ordeal” for Boxill. He added that her appearance at an August infractions hearing “gave her the opportunity to tell her side of the story” to the NCAA.

Roden says Boxill “was there to tell the truth and she did.”

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10:35 a.m.

Only two people at North Carolina ultimately received NCAA sanctions in the multi-year academic case.

Former department chairman Julius Nyang’oro and retired office administrator Deborah Crowder were charged with refusing to cooperate with the NCAA probe. Nyang’oro refused to interview with NCAA investigators after the case was reopened in 2014. Crowder reconsidered and interviewed with investigators in May.

Nyang’oro received a five-year show-cause penalty lasting until Oct. 12, 2022. Crowder was not punished, but the NCAA says it is making note of her initial lack of cooperation.

The school avoided major penalties Friday when the NCAA said it “could not conclude” academic violations took place. The investigation’s focus was on independent study-style courses in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department chaired by Nyang’oro.

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10:20 a.m.

North Carolina has avoided major penalties after an NCAA infractions committee panel “could not conclude” there were academic violations in the multi-year case focused on irregular courses.

The NCAA released its report Friday morning. The panel said it found only two violations out of five charges the school originally faced: a failure-to-cooperate charge against two people tied to the problem courses in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department.

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9:40 a.m.

The NCAA has announced that the infractions committee panel handling North Carolina’s multi-year case will release its public report Friday morning.

It’s a long-awaited step for both the school and NCAA. Investigators first arrived at UNC more than seven years ago in a football probe that ultimately spawned this case focused on irregular courses featuring significant athlete enrollments.

While a ruling could provide resolution, the delay-filled case could still linger if UNC pursues an appeal or legal action in response to potential penalties that could include fines, probation, postseason bans or vacated wins and championships.

The school faces five top-level charges, including lack of institutional control, though no coaches are charged with wrongdoing.

The announcement comes roughly eight weeks after UNC appeared before the panel for a two-day hearing in Nashville, Tennessee.

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