The NCAA said Friday it could not determine whether the University of North Carolina violated NCAA academic rules and announced no punishments stemming from a 3 1/2 year investigation.
“A Division I Committee on Infractions hearing panel could not conclude that the University of North Carolina violated NCAA academic rules when it made available deficient Department of African and Afro-American Studies “paper courses” to the general student body, including student-athletes,” A release from the NCAA said.
Also according to the NCAA release Friday: “While student-athletes likely benefited from the so-called ‘paper courses’ offered by North Carolina, the information available in the record did not establish that the courses were solely created, offered and maintained as an orchestrated effort to benefit student-athletes,” said Greg Sankey, the panel’s chief hearing officer and commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. “The panel is troubled by the university’s shifting positions about whether academic fraud occurred on its campus and the credibility of the Cadwalader report, which it distanced itself from after initially supporting the findings. However, NCAA policy is clear. The NCAA defers to its member schools to determine whether academic fraud occurred and, ultimately, the panel is bound to making decisions within the rules set by the membership.”
The “paper courses” could be taken by anyone, not just athletes.
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“While student-athletes likely benefited from the courses, so did the general student body,” Sankey is quoted saying in the NCAA release. “Additionally, the record did not establish that the university created and offered the courses as part of a systemic effort to benefit only student-athletes.”
The only sanction apparent from the release was for the department chair of the “paper courses” program.
“The panel prescribed a five-year show-cause period (Oct. 13, 2017, through Oct. 12, 2022) for the former department chair. During that period, any NCAA member school employing the former chair must show cause why he should not have restrictions on athletically related activity,” the release said.
North Carolina received the ruling at 8 a.m. Friday, according to a report on Newsobserver.com.
The documents were released to the public at 10 a.m. Friday. A media teleconference with North Carolina and NCAA officials was scheduled for 11 a.m.
Reaction to the ruling was swift on Twitter. Many observers found fault with the NCAA’s logic, but some agreed.
This story will be updated.